By Blessing Vava
The postponement of the 2nd All Stakeholders conference is a clear indication that all is not well with Zimbabwe’s constitution making process which is proving difficult to come to its fruition.
Initially scheduled for the 4th to the 6th of October, COPAC postponed the dates to the end of the same month citing logistical problems. The postponement did not come as a surprise noting how the process has delayed its completion, initially pegged at 18months, but surprisingly dragging to 36 months.
The delays, missed timelines, squabbles, violence were as a result of political bickering and sharp differences that has been the daily recipe in Zimbabwe’s political environment. The COPAC process has failed the test of time and everything they touch turns to rust.
But what really is the importance of this 2nd All Stakeholders Conference? Is it really worth it? Looking at the amount of resources needed to conduct the process-$1.2million and the sharp differences existing between the parties in government this is likely just another waste of money and it will likely turn into a chaotic process, and this might signal the collapse of it.
Seemingly the conference is proving to be another charade, a waste of money and time. Apart from fulfilling Article VI (c) (iv) which says the draft Constitution shall be tabled within three months of completion of the public consultation of the public consultation to a second All Stakeholders Conference, it is not clear on what ought to be done at the conference.
Though COPAC representatives have been quick to say that the Conference will not be a drafting conference, but that the conference is to enable delegates to make comments and recommendations on the COPAC draft for consideration before it is tabled in parliament.
One wonders its significance because it is the same three parties still driving the process and again the ones to decide on what to do with the recommendations.
Also, COPAC came out with the composition of the delegates who are going to attend the conference. From the total number of delegates 1100, 280 will be Members of Parliament, GPA parties 246, (each party nominating 82), the remainder 574 will be civil society.
With such a breakdown and composition it does not need a rocket scientist to tell you that there is nothing ‘All’ Stakeholders about this conference, but rather a gathering of the three political parties and their erstwhile friends disguised as civil society.
Other political parties have been left out; ZANU Ndonga, MKD, MDC 99, ZAPU to mention but just a few, and again the process is still in the hands of the three political parties. Never mind the 70% which they are claiming has been reserved for civil society.
It still remains the prerogative of the three political parties in GPA which make up COPAC to choose which civil society groups are to attend the conference.
Obviously the two MDCs will choose their proxy civil society organisations, which we all know as witnessed during the first stakeholders meeting, same with ZANU PF which amongst its civics will be having names like Upfumi Kuvadiki, and Goodson Nguni’s briefcase organisation Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations ( FONGO) and of course the notorious Chipangano and war veterans who will start singing and are likely to spark violence.
So there is absolutely nothing new to expect from this conference, this gathering still remains a process being controlled by the three political parties and continuously excluding the people.
The voices which will dominate are from these parties and also via their civil society organisations, hence it is no secret that the process is as defective as the draft itself which will not see the light of day come the referendum. As said before, nothing much is going to change at this conference as it is only for recommendations and comments.
These are the same parties that crafted the draft; the delegates who will come to the conference belong to the three political parties, plus their ‘chosen’ civil society organisations. The same parties will be the ones again to debate the same draft in parliament, and the same parties may choose to adopt or ignore the recommendations from this all stakeholder’s conference.
In a way this meeting is just meant to rubber stamp the positions of the parties in the GNU, a position which will ultimately carry the day. Many Zimbabweans are now tired of all these hide and seek games by COPAC and the GNU, they have wasted enough time, enough resources, it is now the time Zimbabweans should be given a choice to choose what they want through the holding of the referendum so that we move forward.
And talk of resources, COPAC should also tell the nation how they used the monies allocated to them since the process started. There has been noise about the national statistical report to be tabled at the conference, we hope COPAC would be able to make a compilation of their financial report with a detailed breakdown on how much they used since the process started to date. Zimbabweans deserve to know how much and what was the money used for.
Blessing Vava is a blogger from Chipinge. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
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