8 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Copac Co-Chairs Report Progress in Constitutional Talks

The COPAC co-chairmen representing parties to the GPA have reported progress in their efforts to overcome differences holding up the finalization of the country's new constitution.

It appears all the sides have made concessions on the four occasions the co-chairmen have met in the last two weeks. There have reportedly been 'intense' discussions to remove remaining obstacles to the constitution making process.

The process ran into significant difficulties last year with all parties failing to agree with six chapters dealing with the devolution of power, executive authority, national prosecuting authority, peace and reconciliation commission, land committee and running mates.

Douglas Mwonzora, the co-chairman representing the MDC-T, told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that following four meetings in the last fortnight, they've provisionally managed to iron out everything, with the exception of the issue of running mates.

Mwonzora disclosed that on devolution, at the insistence of ZANU PF, they inserted a preamble that describes it as not meaning 'cessation or divisionism, but an answer to uneven development.'

'On the land commission, we've agreed that the appointment of the executive committee would involve parliament. Since Zimbabwe will not be in a perpetual state of conflict, we agreed that the national peace and reconciliation commission will be removed from the constitution after 7 years,' Mwonzora said.

Although the Nyanga North MP was non-committal about the remaining difference on running mates, SW Radio Africa is reliably informed the COPAC chairs felt the discussion needed the input of the principals, the individuals most affected by this provision in the constitution.

'In the interim, the co-chairs have decided to retain the running mates clause in the constitution and deal with what happens in the transitional period, between now and the elections.

'It has been recommended to the cabinet committee to work out a special provision that will deal with the selection of the Vice Presidents in the transitional period,' a source said.

Mwonzora confirmed that the cabinet committee will meet in Harare this week to try and deal with the issue of the running mates, as well as tentatively agreeing on the issues that the co-chairs thrashed out in the last two weeks.

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