[21st December 2012]
Deadlock Not Yet Resolved by Principals’ New Committee
Constitution Watch of Saturday 8th December took the story of the continuing deadlock over the COPAC draft constitution to the point at which the special new Committee set up by the principals had had their inaugural meeting on Wednesday 5th December, and scheduled a second meeting for Monday 10th December.
This bulletin continues from that point.
ZANU-PF Conference Call for Completion of Constitution by Christmas
The resolutions emerging from ZANU-PF on the final day of its Conference on 8th December included one condemning the COPAC draft and insisting that unless the constitution-making process was concluded before Christmas the President should call an election under the current Constitution. This did not bode well for an inter-party meeting of minds over the COPAC draft during the upcoming deliberations of the principals’ new Committee. The text of the resolution was as follows [preamble omitted]:
“9. Constitution-making process
Now therefore, Conference;
(a) Deplores the delaying tactics employed by the MDC formations which have caused a constitution-making process that was supposed to take 18 months to last but has so far taken 44 months and is still going on with no certainty as to when it would be concluded.
(b) Is outraged that the draft constitution produced by COPAC on July 18, 2012 deviated in serious material respects from the views of the people expressed during the COPAC outreach exercise and which are contained in the National Statistical Report.
(c) Reiterates that any draft constitution emanating from the COPAC constitution making process must adhere to and conform with the views of the people expressed during the COPAC outreach exercise and repeated at the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference.
(d) Calls upon the party to resist all attempts and machinations by some international forces and their local proxies to smuggle nefarious values and practices onto the proposed new constitution.
(e) Implores the GPA parties to conclude the constitution making process before Christmas this year, failing which the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces should in terms of the law issue the relevant Proclamation dissolving Parliament and fixing a date for the holding of the harmonised elections under the current Constitution.”
SADC Extraordinary Summit Calls for Referendum on New Constitution Before Elections
Extraordinary Summits of the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and SADC Heads of State and Government took place in Dar es Salaam on 7th and 8th December. President Mugabe was attending the ZANU-PF Conference in Gweru, so Zimbabwe was represented by Foreign Affairs Minister Mumbengegwi. The main subject of the Summit meetings was the situation in the Eastern DRC, but President Zuma also reported on the latest developments in Zimbabwe, having been briefed by his facilitation team after their visit to Harare at the end of November.
The communiqué of the full Summit [full text available from email@example.com] contained only one short paragraph on Zimbabwe, but the emphasis was very different from the resolution adopted by delegates to the ZANU-PF party Conference the same day. The SADC position remains that the elections in 2013 must follow the completion of the constitution-making process, including the referendum. The key points [underlining by Veritas] in the paragraph were these:
“9.2 Summit urged the political stakeholders in Zimbabwe to fully implement the GPA.
9.3 Summit also urged the political stakeholders to finalise the constitutional process including referendum before the holding of the elections in 2013.”
Paragraph 9.3’s reference to the constitutional Referendum makes it clear that SADC would not accept the fizzling out of the constitution-making process without the people having had their say in a Referendum.
MDC Responses to ZANU-PF Conference Resolution
Unsurprisingly, the response of the other GPA parties to the ZANU-PF conference demands on the constitution was unwillingness to go back on their previous position that the time for changes to the COPAC draft was past.
Meetings of Principals’ Committee Unproductive So Far
The Committee did not meet as scheduled on Monday 10th December because MDC-T members were absent attending the funeral of the daughter of a senior party member. But it did meet on Tuesday 11th December and Thursday 13th December. As Ministers on the Committee missed the regular Tuesday Cabinet meeting in order to attend Tuesday’s meeting, it seemed the Committee’s task was being accorded high priority.
But this week the Committee has not met. On three occasions members’ other commitments have resulted in failure to assemble a quorum. The latest word from the Committee’s chairperson, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga, is that he hopes the Committee will be able to meet on Christmas Eve, Monday 24th December, to continue its discussions.
Although Minister Matinenga has been tight-lipped about the progress, if any, that the Committee may have made in resolving sticking points, it seems inevitable that the any pre-Christmas report to the principals by the Committee will have to be that it has not completed its assignment.
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