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Second stakeholders’ indaba potentially chaotic, explosive

Swords are drawn for the potentially-explosive Second All Stakeholders’ Conference on the Copac constitution which kicks off on Monday, where Zanu PF is expected to push for the incorporation of its 266 amendments to the draft, while the two MDC formations would resist its bid.

Report by Brian Chitemba

Some of the controversial provisions deal with restoration of executive powers, running-mates for presidential candidates in similar fashion to the US, and devolution.

Zanu PF insists it will only support a draft that has incorporated its controversial amendments but the MDC parties are opposing that, setting the stage for a bruising fight.

Chaos engulfed the first all stakeholders conference in 2010, with senior Zanu PF officials including Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwawo accused of leading the disturbances.

According to the conference programme, principals – President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC leader Welshman Ncube – will address the indaba, after which delegates will break into 18 thematic groups.

It is in these groups that Zanu PF is going to push for the adoption of its amendments, which it maintains were raised by the people during Copac’s outreach programme, but were allegedly dropped by Copac. Delegates will be provided with the Copac draft, the outreach data, and views from the diaspora and the disabled.

The groups will go through the documents clause by clause before reporting back to the plenary conference chaired by Dr Hope Sadza and Professor Phineas Makhurane, who are the two civil society representatives on the Copac steering committee.

The plenary will receive recommendations which will be incorporated into the conference report after which Copac will consider them for adoption. However, there are strong indications that the principals will later appoint a cabinet committee that will take-over the constitution-making process, effectively hijacking it. Of the 1 100 delegates expected to attend, about 280 will be MPs, 246 from political parties, while 574 will come from civil society organisations. Delegates from countries with embassies in Zimbabwe and Sadc will also attend the conference.

Accreditation of delegates and journalists started on Monday to ensure only those invited attend the meeting, to be held at the Harare International Conference Centre.

The conference will be held against the background of a High Court application by Harare businessman Danny Musukuma who is seeking to block the indaba, demanding the release of the national statistical report. Zanu PF activist Goodson Nguni has also approached the courts demanding the same. This is widely seen as an attempt by Zanu PF to manipulate and influence the outcome of the conference.

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