6 December 2012

Zimbabwe: GPA Parties Eager to Complete Drafting of New Constitution

All parties in the inclusive government remain committed to seeing the completion of the constitution making process, a cabinet minister said on Thursday.

Eric Matinenga, the Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, told SW Radio Africa he's optimistic the much leaner COPAC management committee of seven people will be able to resolve the differences and finalise the new constitution soon.

This new committee, recently appointed by the principals to the GPA, has Matingenga as the chair, Tendai Biti from MDC-T, ZANU PF's Patrick Chinamasa and Priscillah Misihairambwi-Mushonga from the MDC-N. The three COPAC co-chairs complete the set-up.

The group convened its first meeting in Harare on Wednesday and Education Minister David Coltart stood in for their COPAC chairperson Edward Mkhosi. Matinenga said the meeting Wednesday was about laying down the groundwork for the work ahead.

'We had to agree on certain administrative issues and how we approach the task on hand. We wanted to set the parameters and that was done. What the parties will do now is bring back on Monday next week their positions on the COPAC report.

'Let's not forget that in the meanwhile the co-chairs have been informally working all along to resolve the impasse. So I don't see ourselves taking long to break the deadlock,' the Minister added.

Matinenga said one thing which came out of Wednesday's meeting was that each of the three parties committed themselves to the successful completion of the exercise.

'Personally I've looked at the COPAC report from the second All-stakeholders conference and I cannot see ourselves sitting for two weeks dealing with the issues. It's either we agree to move on or agree to disagree,' he said.

As the process has already taken three years, there are no guarantees of completion any time soon.

Meanwhile principals to the GPA have appointed Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to be their spokesperson as they try to unlock the stalled constitution-making process which has been beset by constant bickering.

The Daily News newspaper reported on Thursday that the move was meant to reduce partisan interpretation of the leaders' decisions.

'As leaders of government and the political process in the country, we have decided to have our own spokesperson to remove miscommunication and portray a collective image when information is given to the public regarding our activities and decisions.

"I will therefore speak on behalf of Principals from now on rather than have COPAC spokespersons trying to interpret what we want to say. It will avoid confusion and partisan positions. We want to make sure the people get exactly what we want them to get,' the paper quoted Tsvangirai as saying.

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