22 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Copac Draft to Be Presented to Parliament in February

Zimbabweans on Tuesday inched closer to getting a new constitution, after the three drafters handed in the revised copy of the draft to the COPAC co-chairmen in Harare.

The draft, described as the 'final' document by COPAC co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora, will be presented to the parliamentary select committee on Monday for formal adoption, as dictated by the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

"After that we will wait for the opening of Parliament in the first week of February to present the draft to the legislators," Mwonzora said.

It is expected that after its presentation to Parliament, a committee of experts will convene to draft questions that will form the basis on which Zimbabweans will either vote for, or against the draft constitution in a referendum.

The three COPAC drafters who included the amendments proposed by the parties in the GPA last week were Moses Chinhengo, a former High Court judge, Priscilla Madzonga, a senior legal practitioner and former drafter in the Attorney-General's office, and Brian Crozier, a former director of legal drafting in the Attorney-General's office.

Mwonzora said the draft they received Tuesday contains no material or significant changes to the draft that was produced on 18th July last year, explaining that the current draft seeks to make things clearer than the previous one.

"We have also simplified the language so that people who are not skilled in law are able to follow this draft. Starting next week, we will prepare the vernacular copies in all the languages," added Mwonzora.

He emphasized that the handover of the document on Tuesday has almost closed any window to make amendments, which had been proposed by those opposed to the draft.

"We are aware there are some people who may want to revise this process as a way to derail the progress. We are no longer interested in any other input, the people of Zimbabwe spoke, we negotiated and we finished and the draft we have is now the final draft," Mwonzora said.

The Nyanga North MP said that Zimbabweans should be ready to "cross over into Canaan after four years of wondering in the wilderness in search of a new constitution."

The draft is expected to be made available in about two weeks time.

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