HomeCommentEditor"s Comment:Copac process a national disaster

Editor”s Comment:Copac process a national disaster

What is rather surprising is why some people are astonished by the outcome to begin with. For it was a foregone conclusion Copac would be a failure: its conception and  process were deeply-flawed and hence the defective outcome.

What is now needed is a bold and impartial intervention to rescue the project and keep the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) on track before the next credible, free and fair elections. Partisan interventions, like the one we have from Zanu PF and other stakeholders,  are unhelpful.

So many people have lost track or interest of what is happening at Copac, largely because of the incompetence, shoddiness and confusion with which the process was handled.
Right from the beginning, we at this newspaper said Copac was badly-conceived and that the process was not open and inclusive, hence it was inevitably going to fail. This was the same position taken by progressive civil society groups and many other Zimbabweans.

Unfortunately, the main players, Zanu PF and the two MDC factions —in the name of the GPA and coalition government — conspired to embark on a process which was manifestly unrepresentative, opaque and flawed. Acting in cahoots, the three parties resisted the idea of a democratic constitution-making process driven by openness and popular participation, opting for a dubious alternative.

Shockingly, some civil society groups and their calculating donors also decided to join the charade even though they always claimed they wanted a democratic constitution-making process.
Naturally, the political parties wanted to have a process controlled by their elite pact, while donors and their surrogate civic groups thought it was better to get a new constitution, no matter how shoddy, in service of partisan political agendas.

In other words, all the players involved in Copac are there for the wrong reasons — for self-serving agendas. The reason why there is so much acrimony and noise is because those involved are not genuinely motivated by the idea of making a new constitution to serve the national interest but by expedient designs. There are too many convenient and undeclared agendas at play at Copac — which is now a theatre of power struggles. This is precisely what we feared from the start.

The main flaws in the Copac process, among other things, include the following:
The process is inherently unrepresentative and is dominated by politicians;
Its conception and framework were badly flawed;
 There were no proper legal instruments and philosophical approach on how the process would unfold, except  phobia to openness, inclusivity and accountability;
The relationship between the GPA, the next elections and  the  constitution-making process is unclear; and
The organisational structure, control and funding of the process was not transparent.

These, among many other issues, were left hanging, rendering the whole process fragile and disorganised.

If Copac was guided by best practices in Africa and the rest of the world right from the start all these problems could have been avoided.

The Copac process should have been based on basic components of democracy: the imperatives of openness and popular participation.

It should have been a constituent assembly in which its members were selected in a way that allows open and popular participation by all sectors of society in a context of strong mass support for constitutional reform and change.

In fact, it should not have been based on irrational fears of democracy. As it is the process resulted effectively in the abolition of democracy and thus it became a charade and ultimately a national disaster.  

Now Copac needs to be either disbanded or rescued from itself through a constituent assembly or delegates and experts assigned to rework the whole process using all draft constitutions available.

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