HomePoliticsGovt Gives Constitution-making Process Financial Lifeline

Govt Gives Constitution-making Process Financial Lifeline

GOVERNMENT has given a lifeline to the constitution-making process, which had stalled due to lack of funds, by agreeing to release the US$11,3 million in batches for the reform process, whose completion has been delayed by at least three months.

Co-chairperson of the parliamentary select committee on the constitution, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that they were expecting the first batch of US$3,6 million from treasury either today or early next week.

This, he said, would enable the committee to start training the teams of about 860 people, set up offices, recruit administrative staff, hire vehicles and thereafter deploy the teams for the outreach programme.

Mangwana said the consultations should be done by January next year and they need US$4,2 million for the outreach programme. This includes funds to hire about 165 cars for select committee members and allowances for the teams.

“We were promised money from the Ministry of Finance,” said Mangwana. “The management committee approved our budget and they promised to release the money on a monthly basis. Although nothing has come yet, we are expecting the first disbursement either tomorrow (Friday) or next week.

“This will enable us to start consultations, recruit staff and set up offices. We will be able to set into motion our administrative machinery. We will be able to start training and that will take us a week and thereafter we will deploy the teams. We need 65 working days to carry out consultations.”

To expedite the process, the three principals of the global political agreement (GPA) agreed that the six negotiators of the unity deal –– Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche of Zanu PF, Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma of MDC-T, and Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga of the MDC-M –– would form the constitution-making organ’s management committee together with three members of the 25-member select committee of parliament.

The management committee will have an independent secretariat.

According to the timetable outlined in the GPA, the outreach programme was supposed to be completed in mid November, four months after the stakeholders meeting which was held in July.

Consultations had been scheduled to start on August 25 and should have been completed by November 13.

The only thing that the select committee has managed to organise since it was constituted in April was the stakeholders meeting, which was chaotic because of disruptions from Zanu PF supporters.

The draft of the constitution is supposed to be tabled within three months of completion of the public consultations to a second stakeholders conference.

The draft and the accompanying report should then be debated in parliament and the debate concluded within one month.

A referendum on the new draft constitution should be held within three months of the conclusion of the debate.

The whole process, according to the GPA, was supposed to take 18 months before the referendum is held, paving the way for free and fair elections.

Mangwana said because of lack of funds, disagreements and infighting, the process has been delayed.

The fight was over control of the process between the select committee, parliament administration and  Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga, while there were also disagreements over the use of the Kariba draft constitution as the basis for the process and negotiations were still ongoing.

While Zanu PF wanted to use it, MDC-T was insisting that the process should be driven by the people with the Kariba draft constitution used as a reference document like the NCA draft, the Lancaster constitution and the rejected 2000 draft constitution.

“Obviously we will not be able to meet our timetable outlined in the GPA. Already there is a delay of three months but at least things are now looking up now that we are under a management committee.

 

Progress has been done to see that we are autonomous and able to run this process,” Mangwana said.

To go round the Kariba draft issue, the select committee is working on a questionnaire or talking points to use during the outreach programme.

Asked how the disengagement of MDC-T from Zanu PF would affect the process, Mangwana said he did not foresee any problems because the ministers were attending to their ministerial duties and the Finance minister, Tendai Biti, would still be able to disburse the funds during this crisis period.

“They (MDC-T ministers) are at work full time. Tendai Biti will be able to release the funds we are expecting. I don’t see any problems and the disengagement will not affect our process,” he said.

MDC-T has disengaged from Zanu PF, but says it will remain in government until all outstanding issues including the appointments of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and provincial governors are resolved.

 

They also want their treasurer-general Roy Bennett sworn in as deputy Agriculture minister.

Thematic committees of the constitution-making process were now being reconfigured so that all the three political parties chair five thematic committees each, with the other two being chaired by traditional chiefs. The 17 thematic committees will lead the consultative phase of drawing up the new constitution.

The representation of people in the committees will remain the same. Civil society, chiefs and other stakeholders still maintain a 70% representation, while parliament will remain with 30%.

 

Faith Zaba

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