Consultation Period on Constitution cut

PUBLIC consultations on the crafting of a new constitution are now expected to start in January, with a referendum pencilled in for September — cutting by nine months the timeframe for the constitution-making process set out in the Global Political Agreement.

Co-chairperson of the parliamentary select committee on the constitution-making process, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, yesterday said the public consultations would be done over two months.

Last month Mangwana said the committee needed about 65 days to carry out the consultations throughout the country.

The training of teams of about 860 people to carry out the exercise is scheduled to start some time this month.

Offices have been set up in Milton Park in Harare and the committee has now recruited the chief executive officer and other top administrative staff.

Mangwana said: “Consultation is expected to start in January and end in February. At least we now have funding and the process is expected to start in earnest this month with the training of the teams that will be deployed for the outreach programme.”

The constitution-making process has received funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which pledged US$2 million, with the rest of the funding expected to come from government.

In the meantime UNDP would be paying for all expenses incurred.

He said according to their draft work-plan the second stakeholders conference should be held in May and presentation to parliament would then be in July and the referendum in September.

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

Initially the consultations were supposed to start in August and were first postponed to this month and now to January due to lack of funding.

According to the timetable outlined in the GPA, the draft of the constitution is supposed to be tabled within three months of completion of the public consultations and then taken to a second stakeholders’ conference.

The draft and the accompanying report are supposed to 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, is supposed to take 18 months before the referendum is held, paving the way for free and fair elections.

But now, according to the committee’s work-plan, everything has been squeezed into nine months.

 

Faith Zaba

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