SW Radio Africa (London)

13 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Another Deadlock Hits Copac Draft

There's been another deadlock at the ongoing COPAC talks after the MDC formations refused to re-negotiate issues they had agreed on as parties to the GPA.

A highly placed source told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that the management committee working on the synchronization of the draft had come stuck on issues to do with devolution, the national prosecuting authority, the truth and reconciliation commission and the land commission.

'The MDC formations stuck to their guns that they would not revisit issues that they agreed to and signed as all parties on 18th July. They maintain that would be taking the process backwards,' the source said.

In an effort to break the logjam, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga, who is chair of this committee, recommended that they meet again on Monday.

Meanwhile the principals to the GPA have now accepted that the drafting of the new constitution is a parliamenatry led process,' the MDC-T spokeman Douglas Mwonzora has said.

This follows threats by President Robert Mugabe two months ago to take charge of the charter, during COPAC' second All-Stakeholders conference in October.

Mugabe caused a stir when he declared that only the principals, and not MPs, have power over the process.

He argued that the principals in the inclusive government had the final say on the draft constitution as they were the ones who conceived the GPA that resulted in the current constitution making process.

But Mwonzora, who is also the COPAC co-chair representing the MDC-T, said all the principals wanted was to facilitate dialogue to find a breakthrough to the deadlock that had stalled the process.

'There was an impasse and the principals unlocked this by appointing a leaner committee to work on the draft. When work on the charter is complete we will simultaneously send the principals a report and to parliament a draft of the constitution,' Mwonzora said.

The Nyanga MP added that there are only two stages before the constitution is finalised. The first stage is the presentation of the draft to parliament, which they hope to do before the Christmas break. He warned that this depended on parties finding a common ground on current discussions to come out with a final draft.

'After that, the state must advise us on the date of the referendum. The sequence is report to parliament first, which will take just a day and then have a referendum date.

'As COPAC we will advocate for time between the declaration of the referendum date and the actual day to allow for voter and civic education. People must be conscientized on what the referendum is all about so that they vote with their eyes open,' he said.

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