11 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Another Blow to the Copac Process

Photo: Parliament of Zimbabwe
Parliament of Zimbabwe

THE special cabinet committee on the constitution is set to meet next week to seek common ground on contentious draft constitution matters which Copac co-chairpersons have failed to agree on, dealing yet another blow to efforts to conclude the long-delayed and costly constitution-making process.

The meeting, which was slated for this week, has been postponed because key players from the MDC-T, Finance minister Tendai Biti and Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga, are away on other business.

The duo's absence has further slowed down draft constitution negotiations which must be completed before crucial elections to end the divided unity government can be held.

The constitution review process stalled after Zanu PF raised objections to six main issues published in the draft, among them the whittling down of the presidential powers, devolution, separation of the Attorney-General's office into two (prosecuting authority and government legal advisor), introduction of presidential running-mates, dual citizenship and composition of the Constitutional Court.

Acting Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Nelson Chamisa yesterday confirmed the cabinet committee would soon meet to scrutinise the agreed position from Copac before passing it on to the principals.

"Any agreements reached by the committee would be referred to the principals for their consideration."

Chamisa admitted they were set to fast-track the review of the draft since government is now lagging behind on agreed timelines to produce a new constitution.

"There are no timelines set for completing the review. However, we are fast-tracking the processes since we are now behind schedule for the referendum," Chamisa said.

Copac co-chairpersons have tentatively agreed to include the running-mates clause but this would only become effective after the next election.

They have also agreed to water down devolution and reduce it to statutory decentralisation, but are however still deadlocked on the Attorney-General's office, dual citizenship and composition of the Constitutional Court.

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