Zimbabwe: Minister Stands Up to Mugabe, PM

PARLIAMENTARY and Constitutional Affairs minister, Eric Matinenga, has defied GPA principals, saying he will not be part to any arrangement that jeopardises the constitutional draft.

This follows a directive by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that he takes over the administration of Copac ahead of the second all-stakeholders' conference.

The move could have resulted in the executive taking over from Parliament the process of drafting a new charter for the country.

"The process remains a parliamentary process and I am not going to interfere with the process," said Matinenga. "I am not going to be part of that [taking over Copac]."

The minister was last week called by Mugabe and Tsvangirai and asked to take over administration of the Copac processes, together with Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, a request he shot down.

Matinenga insisted that when it came to Copac, he was guided by Article 6 of the GPA, which states that parliament should drive constitutional reform.

Matinenga said Copac should be allowed to "run its course" and not be usurped by the executive.

Zanu PF has been calling for amendments to the Copac draft, claiming it did not reflect the views of the people.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai reportedly want to have a final say on what the final draft would read, and had Matinenga acceded to their demands, they would have had their wish.

"I will not be part of a process that will jeopardise acceptance of the draft at referendum stage," he declared. "We do not want a repeat of the 2000 scenario."

In 2000, a referendum rejected a constitutional draft after Zanu PF and the government campaigned for it vociferously.

Matinenga explained that the All-Stakeholders' Conference was not meant to edit the draft and that seemed to generate misunderstandings that the draft could be amended.

Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba refused to comment on Matinenga's stance. Instead, he referred questions back to Matinenga.

Chinamasa and Tsvangirai's spokes-person, Luke Tamborinyoka, could not be reached for comment last week.

Meanwhile, an emergency meeting of the Copac management committee, which was due to be held last Thursday, will now be held tomorrow.

An official at Copac confirmed that an emergency meeting had been called to deal with the chaos bedeviling the constitution-writing exercise.

However, Copac co-chairperson, Douglas Mwonzora, said it was not an emergency meeting, but rather a scheduled gathering.

"We were supposed to have the meeting [Thursday], but [Zanu PF co-chairperson] Paul Mangwana, is not around," he said.

"Tomorrow (Friday) I will be attending a funeral, so the meeting will now be held on Monday."

The second all stakeholders conference is set for Monday next week at the Harare International Conference Centre.

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