‘Zanu PF, civil society delaying constitution-making’

THE parliamentary select committee spearheading the country’s constitution-making process has blamed Zanu PF and civil society for delaying the formation of thematic committees, which will gather the views of the people on the new supreme law.


Co-chairperson of the committee, Douglas Mwonzora, told the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday that Zanu PF and civil society had failed to submit names of people they wanted to sit on the thematic committees by the July 28 deadline, delaying the commencement of the three-month outreach programme.
Mwonzora said: “We requested
civil society to give us names of people to appoint to the thematic committees. Unfortunately the process (on the civil society) is very slow and we are still receiving these names.
“The other reason is that Zanu PF requested that they needed to forward the names of their proposed representatives to their leaders first. This process was unfortunately delayed by the death of Vice-President Joseph Msika.”
He said the situation was compounded by financial constraints.
Mwonzora, however, said the outreach programme to consult people on what they want in the new constitution would commence on August 25.
“We have received US$2 million from UNDP and this will help to kick start the outreach programme on August 25,” he said. “The money is not enough but it is very significant for it will enable us to undertake the task and basically get started. Nothing is lost. The delay is about a week and we will cover that.”
He said there would be 17 thematic committees made up of MPs, chiefs and members of civil society.
“Because of the increase in the number of thematic committees from the original 12 to 17 we have had to reduce the number of people on these committees so that we retain the original 425 people that we had budgeted for,” Mwonzora said. “Each thematic committee will have 25 people, which will bring the total to 425 people, of these 30% will be MPs, 70% will be members of civil society, war veterans, churches and trade unions.”
Mwonzora said one of the thematic committees would be chaired by a representative of the chiefs in parliament and MDC-M was allocated two thematic committees to chair — the separation of powers and public finance and management committee.
Zanu PF would chair the founding principles on constitutionalism; executive organs of the state; land, natural resources and empowerment; media; war veterans and freedom fighters; languages and minorities and women and gender issues committee.
MDC-T would chair the system of government; youth; labour; disabled; elections, transitional provisions and independent institutions; citizenship and bill of rights; and religion.
The committees’ deputy chairs would come from civil society.
Responding to a recent statement by the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) saying the Kariba draft constitution should be used as a reference document in the current process, Mwonzora said the committee had no locus standi in the matter.
He said Article Six of the global political agreement (GPA) does not make Jomic a guider or superior of the select committee.
Mwonzora said: “What they were saying is not what the GPA says and we do not agree with them. It is undesirable at law to get an interpretation of an agreement from the people who wrote it. This is because their interests do not remain static and therefore their new interpretation can be affected by considerations of recent convenience, that is why that although parliament makes laws, these laws are interpreted by the judiciary.”
“A litigant doesn’t sue parliament and demand what parliament made on each law. The GPA says the select committee must produce its own draft in clear terms.”

 

Wongai Zhangazha