In a joint statement to the media on Friday, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said they welcomed the long awaited launch of the Constitution Parliamentary Committee (Copac) outreach programme launched by President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
According to COPAC, teams would be deployed starting next Monday before commencing the consultative process from Wednesday.
But ZPP, ZESN and ZHLR said it had already deployed 420 monitors as well as provincial coordinators and key personnel on the ground across the country.
“Our goal is to objectively monitor, observe and report on the work of Copac, the public outreach programme, the work of the Thematic Committees and the Drafting Committee and the final document produces in order to adjudge how democratic and transparent the constitution-making process is and if it accurately reflects the input of broad and diverse popular participation,” reads part of the joint civil society statement issued Friday.
It added that the monitoring teams dispersed nationwide would systematically gather information during the consultative process, comment on the political environment and any breaches to the GPA in relation to the process and to highlight any violations, violence or other discrepancies which occur in the constituencies and wards.
Meanwhile some civic groups feared some people would miss the outreach meetings due to failure by Copac to mention the dates and times of the meetings.
Copac has been flighting advertisements in various media mentioning the venues of the outreach meetings to be held across the country, but did not reveal the dates and times of the meetings.
“The dates and times are not available and that makes the whole process exclusive only to Copac members and parliamentarians receiving allowances. There is no information whatsoever and that is likely to result in thousands of people missing out,” said Kudzai Kwangari, the Projects Co-ordinator for Bulawayo Radio Dialogue.
Sikhululekile Mashingaidze, the Information and Advocacy officer for Habbakuk Trust noted: “There is need for Copac to publicise and create awareness to make people participate in the whole process.
“People need to prepare and plan to attend the public outreach programmes.”
When reached for comment, co-chairperson of the parliamentary select committee, Douglas Mwonzora said Copac had realised the anomaly.
“We have now prepared a new list with the times, dates and venues…we are going to publicise the whole itinerary of the outreach meetings,” Mwonzora said in a telephone interview.
But Mashingaidze noted: “There is no correct information or there is actually no sufficient information on the whole process from Copac and that is taking away people’s interest.”
The country’s constitution making process is over a year behind schedule due to funding constraints. About US$8.5 million is required for the 65 day outreach programme to collect views of Zimbabweans on a new constitution.