13 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Deadlock Over Copac Conference Report

Photo: Buanews
File photo: President Jacob Zuma, center, with President Robert Mugabe, right, on a previous working visit to Zimbabwe.

The Copac management committee meeting in Harare yesterday failed to agree on the Second All-Stakeholders' Conference Report.

The management committee met yesterday to review the report and map a way forward.

However, parties to the GPA once again reached a deadlock on whether to take the report to the principals or to Parliament for debate before the referendum.

Zanu-PF negotiator Cde Patrick Chinamasa yesterday confirmed the impasse.

"We met to receive the Copac Select committee report on the Second All- Stakeholders' Conference."

The Justice and Legal Affairs minister said the meeting reviewed five parts of the report. The meeting looked at the overview of the constitution-making process, proceedings of the Second All-Stakeholders' Conference and areas where no changes were recommended to the draft. The meeting also reviewed areas where recommendations for change to the draft were made.

"There were minor typographical errors but there were areas of disagreement over what to do with the report.

"Zanu-PF wants to submit the report to the principals for a way forward and how areas of disagreement could be reconciled. The management committee is not a GPA creature and we need to take the report to the principals for a way forward," he said.

Cde Chinamasa said the MDC formations wanted to take the report to Parliament without making efforts to find a solution to the impasse.

"The MDC formations believe comments and reviews from the all stakeholders meeting are irrelevant and the Copac draft should go as is to Parliament," he said.

The Zanu-PF negotiator confirmed that the parties had reached another stalemate.

"The views and comments of the Second All-Stakeholders' Conference would be taken into account in producing a document to be taken to Parliament. The management committee is not the final arbiter of this process. A national Constitution is very important and should take into consideration views taken from the all-stakeholders' conference," he said.

"Under no circumstances will Zanu-PF agree to a process that will not respect the delegates' views during the Second All-Stakeholders' Confence."

MDC negotiator Mrs Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga also confirmed the stalemate.

"We looked at the report and made editorial amendments but we disagreed on the way forward. Zanu-PF wants the report to be taken to the principals. Zanu-PF wants further instructions from the principals but we should follow the GPA and take the draft and report to Parliament where it would be taken to referendum," she said.

Mrs Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the parties could be forced to call in the Sadc facilitator and troika chairperson.

South African President Jacob Zuma and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania are the Sadc facilitator and troika chairperson respectively.

"We are hoping that Zanu-PF would understand the position otherwise we are back to square one.

"We are not open to negotiations and we want to take the draft and report to Parliament and let the people decide whether they like it or not," she said.

MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora said the parties should be guided by Article 6 of the GPA.

"This is a Parliament process and taking it to the principals must come after the presentation of the draft and report to Parliament," he said.

The meeting was attended by Cde Chinamasa and Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana for Zanu-PF, Mrs Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC) and Mr Elton Mangoma and Mr Mwonzora for the MDC-T.

The Constitution-making process has been dogged by several hitches with Zanu-PF insisting on including the people's views received during the outreach programme.

The report submitted for guidance to the management committee last week omitted information on the background to the conference as well as President Mugabe's speech among other issues.

Copac had also omitted explanatory notes on the various figures in the report and narratives by the chairpersons made at the conference.

Delegates to the Second All-Stakeholders' Conference made submissions that the draft constitution produced in July had left out issues raised by the people as captured in the National Statistical Report.

The delegates made recommendations for amendments.

President Mugabe told the conference in his remarks that the principals, as the signatories of the Global Political Agreement, would have the final say on the constitution.

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