Constitution Watch 6-2012


[3rd May 2012]

Latest Draft Constitution Published

On 1st May Newsday published its first instalment of the text of the latest draft of the constitution, i.e., the draft that was approved by the COPAC Select Committee and then delivered to the Management Committee last week.  [Note: In our last Constitution Watch Veritas, referred to this as the second draft – to distinguish it from the first draft published by the Herald on the 10th of February.  But although that draft has now been thoroughly revised by the lead drafters and the COPAC Co-chairs Forum, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs chairing the Management Committee has insisted that it should be called the “first draft” because it is the first official draft to reach the Management Committee and be accepted by the Management Committee as a foundation for progress.  Veritas to avoid confusion will call it the revised draft]

This first Newsday extract covered the Preamble and Chapter 1 [Founding Principles].  Newsday of 2nd May followed with instalment 2.  This extract covers Chapter 2 [National Objectives], Chapter 3 [Citizenship] and part of Chapter 4 [Declaration of Rights].  Today’s Newsday continues with Chapter 4 up to clause 22.

Veritas does not usually circulate drafts that are not complete or have not been finalised.  But as the latest draft is now in the public domain and needs to be widely discussed, and as we believe it may be helpful to do so, we make it available in electronic form for those who do not have access to a hard copy or otherwise need a soft copy.  We thank Newsday for providing the document.  [Copy of draft constitution available from - 140 KB zipped Word document.]

Yesterday’s Herald had the complete draft as a supplement, but the very small print makes it difficult to read.

First Draft (Revised) Still Not Complete

As pointed out in Constitution Watch of 26th April, this revised draft is not a complete draft.  There are issues that were still to be decided by the Management Committee and/or the principals or political parties.  Also to be borne in mind when reading the draft is that, as well as later inclusion of issues still to be resolved, there may be further revisions even of this text by the Management Committee and/or the principals/party presidents or political parties.  It is only when it has gone through all these levels that a final draft will be translated and made available countrywide for debate before the Second Stakeholders’ Conference.  So any comment on or objection to the first draft (revised) may also have to  be revised.  Nevertheless, as the new constitution requires study and analysis, the sooner this is started the better – with the caveat that there are still changes to come.

Result of Management Committee Meeting on 30th April

The COPAC Management Committee met as planned on Monday 30th April to consider the revised draft delivered to them by the COPAC co-chairs last week.  Press reports of the meeting’s outcome have been somewhat contradictory, but according to the chairperson of the Management Committee, Hon Eric Matinenga, Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, the decisions taken at that meeting were: 

  • the Management Committee will remain seized with the “parked issues” and will meet again next week with a view to resolving them, the only really troublesome remaining issue being what provision should be made for implementation of devolution of power to the provinces
  • the draft must be referred to the three GPA political parties for their comments.  [This has now been done.]
  • the draft, even though incomplete, must be given to the “party principals/party presidents”, i.e., it must go to Professor Ncube as well as to Mr Mugabe , Mr Tsvangirai and Professor Mutambara.  [It has already been received by Professor Ncube, Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai.]  [Note:  Professor Ncube’s MDC is represented on the Select Committee and the Management Committee.  Professor Mutambara’s MDC is not.]
  • the Select Committee members, under the leadership of the co-chairs, must endeavour to make the necessary editorial corrections arising from discussions that have taken place so far and must revisit the provisions on citizenship to make the changes agreed on by the Management Committee regarding dual citizenship.   [The management committee had at a previous meeting resolved the “parked” issue of dual citizenship by leaving it to be regulated by Act of Parliament, but at the same time ensuring special protection of the rights of citizens by birth and descent, and those currently classed as aliens but who by virtue of birth in and family residence in Zimbabwe can be said to belong to Zimbabwe.]
  • the political parties must submit their comments no later than Friday 4th May. [Mr Biti has said that MDC-T has already made its comments.]
  • the co-chairs must also submit the tidied-up draft no later than Friday 4th May, to facilitate a fruitful Management Committee meeting on Monday 7th May. 

Two out of Three Previously Parked Issues Resolved

Number of Vice-Presidents  This formerly parked issue [see Constitution Watch of 26th April 2012] has been resolved by not specifying whether there would be one or two in the Constitution, and instead saying there can be “up to two Vice-Presidents’.

Dual citizenship  This issue has been resolved [see above] – though there is still a strong opinion that it should not be left to an Act of Parliament because correctly all the important parameters of citizenship should be covered in the Constitution.

Devolution and its modalities  This still remains an unresolved and contentious issue and the Chapter of the revised draft headed Provincial and Local Government is still “parked”.  [Note:  The present constitution has a certain measure of devolution but there is pressure for more devolution of power from the MDC parties and strong  resistance to this from ZANU-PF.]

How Long to an Agreed Final Draft?

Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga said today he hoped the remaining issues could be satisfactorily resolved and the final draft wrapped up by the end of next week.

Comment:  Wrapping up the draft by the end of next week – 11th May – is a tall order.  Things could still be delayed or derailed – for instance, by one of the GPA political parties failing to come up with agreed comments on the draft for submission to the Management Committee.  Reports suggest that there is a strong body of opinion within ZANU-PF that is vehemently opposed to the draft.  The ZANU-PF Politburo is due to meet on Thursday 3rd May.


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