Zim's Constitution-making To Resume Next Week

The process stalled two weeks ago on the basis that there is no more funding.

COPAC’s Management committee comprising the six Global Political Agreement (GPA) negotiators – Tendai Biti (MDC-T), Patrick Chinamasa (Zanu (PF),Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga (Small Movement of Democratic Change Faction (MDC). Elton Mangoma (mainstream MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T), Nicholas Goche (Zanu (PF) and Moses Mzila-Ndlovu (MDC) and the Constitution-making process’s three co-chairpersons, Munyaradzi Mangwana (Zanu (PF), Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) and Edward Ndlovu (MDC) and Eric Matinenga, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, met in Harare on Tuesday night.

Officials said it has been agreed that both qualitative and quantitative methods be used in compilation of district and provincial reports after heated discussions.

Matinenga, the minister directly in charge with the writing of the new constitution, said the disputes which threatened to derail the constitution-making process were trashed out on Tuesday night.

“We have found a way forward. The dispute has been around the use of the methodology for the process but we meet as the Management Committee on Tuesday night to resolve issues. We came up with an agreement that we should recognise the use of both qualitative and quantitative methods. I hope we are not going to go back on this latest agreement,” said Matinenga.

The MDC has been supporting the use of qualitative methods as it argued that numbers were not important but the quality of submissions made by the public during the outreach.

Zanu (PF) which vigorously campaigned for its views to be held countrywide, has been pushing for quantitative methods of compiling reports because of the dominance of the party’s views during the outreach.

Apart from political differences, the constitution-making process has been bedevilled by lack of sufficient funds to bank-roll it since its start in January 2009.

Last week the Zanu (PF) politburo, the party’s supreme decision-making body outside congress, accused Finance Minister Biti of attempting to delay the drafting of the new constitution, allegedly by refusing to fund the process.

But Matinenga said if there was no money to continue with the process, the inclusive government would find it, saying there was a provision that the government should use its reserves to finance the exercise.

“Finances will always be an issue but we will always find the money. The budget did not set aside a lump sum for the process but there is an understanding that we will always be going to treasury if we ran out of funds. In that respect the treasury has not disappointed,” added Matinega.

COPAC is understood to be in urgent need of about US$1 million to complete the district and provincial outreach reports.

More millions would be needed for the remaining stages that include the drafting of the new constitution, the holding of the second All-Stakeholders Conference, the presentation of the draft to parliament and a referendum. If approved by the referendum, the draft constitution will be placed before parliament where it is expected to be passed into law, leading to fresh polls to bring closure to the acrimonious inclusive government.