Abandoned Harare Constitution Meetings To Resume

The Zimbabwe Republic Police would be on very high alert as the COPAC resumes consultations on the crafting of a new constitution in Zimbabwe to replace the compromised Lancaster House document which has been amended 19 times, the last being the creation of the coalition government after an inconclusive Presidential election.

Douglas Mwonzora, one of the three co-chairpersons of COPAC, told a media briefing in Harare on Tuesday that treasury had made available funds to allow for the conclusion of the consultation exercise in Harare.

The meetings which were supposed to be done on 18 and 19 September were abandoned due to violence.

An MDC supporter died of injuries sustained after clashes with Zanu (PF) militia in Mbare during the ill-fated exercise in Harare last month but despite the culprits being known, no-one had been arrested yet.

“The Political Party Liaison Committee met and agreed that 52 meetings will now be held in Harare over the coming weekend,” said Mwonzora, adding that the requirements for the holding of the Harare outreach would be adhered to.

The COPAC management committee required that political 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,” he said.

The document states that Zanu (PF) and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had the prime responsibility to prevent the bussing of people from outside Harare.

The COPAC management committee called upon the police to immediately take action against those responsible for all crimes committed during the outreach exercise, including the crimes committed during the disturbances in Harare between 18 and 19 September, 2010.

Mwonzora said the successful completion of the Harare outreach will usher in the post-outreach phase that will begin with data uploading and collation, the sitting of the thematic committees, drafting, second stakeholders’ conference, presentation of draft to Parliament and the referendum. The referendum is slated for the first quarter of 2011 which is expected to be followed by presidential and general elections in mid 2011.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has accused state security institutions that included the army of disrupting the abandoned meetings in Harare, Chitungwiza and other centres, intimidating people at the same time.

Vice President Joice Mujuru over the weekend urged Zanu (PF) supporters to accept the new charter at the referendum even before the document had been finalised.

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has said it will campaign for a ‘No’ vote arguing the constitutional meetings were done in a partisan manner, with the main political parties playing a big role in the process.