CONSTITUTION WATCH 22/2010
[25th October 2010]
Remaining Harare Outreach Meetings Scheduled for Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st October
44 constitution outreach meetings to replace those meetings that were disputed or not completed during the original Harare outreach over the period 18th to 20th September will now be held next weekend, 30th and 31st October. Details of venues and times for the meetings will be circulated as soon as they are made available by COPAC.
COPAC’s Preconditions for the Harare Meetings
After the disruption of so many of the original Harare outreach meetings by violence and intimidation, coaching of participants and bussing in of outsiders, the COPAC management committee agreed that the coming Harare meetings would be subject to the following preconditions, which were announced in a COPAC press statement of 6th October:
- That parties take responsibility for the behaviour of their supporters during the outreach programme. In this regard, the political parties will publicly and in writing contained in a document signed by their Secretaries General denounce violence, intimidation, racism and other malpractices during the outreach programme and implore their supporters to desist from these activities. [This document has not yet been finalised.]
- That the political parties have a prime responsibility to prevent the bussing of people from outside Harare or from areas in Harare in respect of which outreach was properly done. The law enforcement agents are hereby implored to put measures to ensure that the bussing is prevented during the ensuing outreach programme. [They have not said how they are going to do this]
- That the outreach meetings will be broken down into smaller manageable groups. The meetings should be held in securable places like schools etc. [This is being arranged.]
- That the Zimbabwe Republic Police, through the Co-Ministers of Home Affairs and the Commissioner General of Police, is hereby called upon to ensure that mechanisms are put in place for the effective maintenance of law and order during the outreach programme. In this regard sufficient guarantees will be given regarding the security of members of the public during this programme. [Police have said this will be done.]
- That the Political Party Liaison Committee for Harare will be made up of senior national leaders from Political Parties. Equally the District Liaison Committees will be made up of senior political party leaders. [The parties have not yet submitted the names of their representatives on these committees.]
- That the public print and electronic media, and in particular the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, publishes the dates and venues of the outreach meetings as well as the COPAC Code of Conduct in such a way as to sufficiently inform members of the public on same. [It is too early to comment on compliance or otherwise with this condition. Veritas will circulate the dates and venues and the COPAC Code of Conduct as soon as possible.]
- The Management Committee hereby calls upon the ZRP to immediately take action designed to bring all those responsible for all crimes committed during the entire outreach programme including specifically the crimes committed during the disturbances in Harare between the 18th and 20th of September 2010, to book. [ZRP have provided COPAC with some documentary evidence of investigations commenced and dockets opened.]
Outreach Attendance Figures as at 6th October
At the COPAC press conference of 6th October it was announced that, excluding Harare, over 4 600 meetings had been conducted, with a total participation of 963 000 people. [Veritas will circulate detailed statistics when they are available.]
Youth and the Outreach
From the outset attendance by young people at outreach meetings was low, particularly in the Matabeleland Provinces and Midlands. An effort to remedy this defect was the holding of a two-day meeting between COPAC and 200 representatives of children and youth on the 22nd and 23rd September at Parliament Buildings in Harare. The event was organised by UNICEF, COPAC and the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs. All 10 provinces in the country were represented.
This interaction between COPAC and a mere 200 young people was condemned as wholly inadequate when youth organisations held a discussion forum in Harare on 12th October to assess youth participation in the constitution-making process. The overwhelming verdict from speakers and participants from the floor was that youth had not been adequately catered for in the process. There should have been more awareness-raising among youth before the outreach commenced. As it was, young people had felt unwelcome at outreach meetings, even when held at schools. In many places they had been subjected to pressure and told they could not attend or could attend but as observers only.
COPAC Meeting with Diaspora in Johannesburg
On 2nd October the three COPAC co-chairpersons met representatives of Zimbabweans resident in South Africa. Views expressed included the right to cast absentee ballots in elections and the right to dual citizenship. The organisations represented at the meeting were assured that the views of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora would be taken into account in the making of the new Constitution. Diaspora organisations have since announced that they will soon – probably this week – be submitting a draft constitution setting out their position.
Making Submissions to COPAC Online: COPAC Website
The COPAC website – www.copac.org.zw – is operational. [Do not be put off by the fact that some aspects of the website – such as latest news – have not been updated since July.]
All Zimbabweans, whether in the Diaspora or resident in the country, are welcome to make use of the website to tell COPAC what they want to see in the new constitution.
This can be done by answering the website’s talking points questionnaire online. Contributions made via the website will be collated along with the information collected by the outreach teams during the countrywide outreach exercise and the collated information will be provided to the thematic committees for use in preparing their reports.
Instructions for accessing the talking points questionnaire
Go to the website homepage at www.copac.org.zw
- Once you are on the homepage, place your cursor on the tab labelled “talking points” and an option to register will appear on the screen.
- Click on the option to register and a new page to register as a new user will appear.
- Your name, a username, email address, password and a verification of the password will be required to register.
- Thereafter, basic information will be required –gender and year of birth
- Contact information- city of birth, country of residence.
- An option to upload a profile picture will appear (there is an option to skip this stage).
- A message acknowledging that you have been registered will appear.
- An activation link will be sent to your email address.
- The account must be activated by clicking on the activation link before the user can login.
- Once you have logged in, you can answer the questions in the questionnaire online, and if you wish to do so you can also supplement your answers by making additional comments in the space provided.
Act Now! If you wish to submit your views via the website, the sooner you do so the better. Although no deadline for online submissions has been announced, COPAC has said collation of information will commence after the remaining Harare outreach meetings. So there is no time to lose. Veritas suggests you aim at having your say before the end of the month.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied