SW Radio Africa (London)

4 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Copac to Present Draft Constitution to Parliament On Tuesday

The new draft constitution will be presented to parliament for debate on Tuesday and is expected to be adopted by Thursday, paving the way for it to go to a referendum.

COPAC co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa that parliament is expected to debate and pass the draft constitution without amendments, amid reports principals to the GPA met in Harare Monday to agree on dates for a referendum and elections.

A highly placed source said the principals were likely to agree to have a referendum by end of March and harmonized elections by end of June or early July, a scenario Mwonzora confirmed was possible.

'That timeline is possible but it is the perogative of the principals to decide on the dates and we will be duly informed,' explained Mwonzora. The Nyanga North MP said COPAC will table a copy of the draft in the House of Assembly and Senate, along with a full report of the constitutional making exercise.

All the parties are supporting the document but some MP's regret the fact that they will not be able to make any amendments.

Others have cautioned organizations like the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) against 'poisoning' Zimbabweans to reject the draft at the referendum. Blessing Vava, the NCA spokesman, said they will be addressing the media on Tuesday to launch their 'No' vote campaign.

Vava described Tuesday as a sad day for Zimbabwe, saying it was a shame that COPAC had 'lied to Zimbabweans' and that MPs will not make any changes to the draft. 'COPAC has failed Zimbabweans because they did not capture their aspirations and wishes. It is a big shame,' he said. He said: 'We shall make sure that it does not go through in a referendum.'

Some of the clauses in the draft that proved controversial included the reduced powers of the executive and a devolved government. The new constitution would institute provincial councils to distribute some of the activities undertaken centrally. Politicians in ZANU PF fiercely opposed this saying it would be expensive and fuel ethnic divisions in the country.

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