25 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Cabinet Team Fails to Clear Sticky Issues

THE Cabinet committee on the new Constitution has failed to resolve the deadlock over 30 contentious issues from the Second All Stakeholders' Conference. The team was scheduled to meet yesterday.

It pushed the day forward to Sunday, but nothing materialised from the meeting.

The members resolved to seek guidance from their principals on the way forward and for them to decide if it is still necessary to continue meeting.

If the principals give a nod to further meetings, the committee would reconvene on Thursday to give the constitutional process a last chance to succeed.

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga, who chairs the committee, said yesterday that the committee would now be guided by the principals after failing to resolve issues before it.

"We are now reporting to our principals and respective parties before meeting again on the 27th.

"We met yesterday (Sunday) and we deliberated on the sticking points. We are dealing with the same old sticking points and we will continue to engage."

Minister Matinenga said no new issues were raised at the meeting.

Zanu-PF committee member, Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana referred all questions to Minister Matinenga. While the MDC could not be reached for comment.

Zanu-PF has made it clear that President Mugabe would proceed to dissolve Parliament and proclaim dates for harmonised elections using the Lancaster House Constitution if the new charter did not materialise by Christmas.

The resolution was made at the party's annual National People's Conference in Gweru.

Indications are that Copac will not produce a refined draft Constitution any time soon as there is no agreement on the 30 contentious issues.

This gives President Mugabe leeway to call for elections as directed by the Zanu-PF conference.

The new constitutional process has been haunted by controversy since Copac was established a few years ago after it failed to meet deadlines.

It has been more than three years since the country was expected to have had a new Constitution that could lead to elections to end the troubled inclusive Government.

New areas of disagreement include whether the new law should provide for the appointment of a minister responsible for civil service.

Zanu-PF also argues that the draft does not defend, protect and preserve the values of the liberation struggle.

The parties also differ on whether or not the Constitution should provide for the appointment of a Minister of Intelligence Services and whether or not the title should be Correctional Service or Prison and Correctional Servies.

They are also disagreeing on whether or not traditional leaders should be members of political parties, whether or not an Act of Parliament should provide for National Youth Service and whether or not to separate empowerment and employment creation from development with the two being stand-alone clauses.

The parties are also haggling over how a successor would be chosen in case of incapacitation of the President.

The Constitution-making process that was expected to take about 18 months has taken over three years because of bickering among the political parties.

The MDC formations endorsed the draft in its entirety, but Zanu-PF proposed amendments that were taken to the second all stakeholders conference.

The revolutionary party argued that the draft had deviated from the people's views gathered during the outreach programme.

MDC formations have mainly been basing their preferences on "international best practices", while Zanu-PF used the outreach national report that outlines the number of times an issue was raised by the people.

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