World cup red card for Copac

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The ongoing Fifa World Cup playing out in South Africa has taken precedence over the long-awaited crafting of Zimbabwe’s new constitution which was expected to go full throttle tomorrow, it has emerged.
Yesterday, the Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) said it had shelved plans to gather views from residents of Harare and Bulawayo until after the World Cup.
Copac realised at the last moment that few people would participate because of the football extravaganza underway across the Limpopo.
Copac co-chairperson Paul Mangwana, confirmed last night that it had been realised at the eleventh hour that the World Cup football extravaganza would affect participation of urban dwellers.
As a result, he said, the outreach programme had been stopped in Harare and Bulawayo until after the World Cup next month.
The process was meant to kick off, starting in urban centres tomorrow and filter to the rural areas for the next 88 days.
“There is never a good time for thinking out good ideas,” Mangwana said. “They (good ideas) can come anytime, so you cannot ask why we did not come up with this idea (to postpone the process) earlier. That is what has happened, but it will not affect our anticipated timelines.”
He said Copac had also reduced the number of days that consultations would take place in the two cities from three to two days.
“We realised that with some matches starting in the afternoon, attendances would be very poor,” Mangwana said.
“We also considered the likely possibility where a longer consultation period of three days would allow unscrupulous characters to appear several times to air the same views at different consultation venues, so we have tried to stop this by limiting the number of days to two.”
Mangwana said consultation dates for Harare and Bulawayo would be announced in due course – after the World Cup.
“We also took on board concerns of workers in the cities who would need to be at work. That is why have decided to make the days for Harare and Bulawayo, Saturday and Sunday only.”
Asked whether Copac’s World Cup and workers’ concerns would not also affect smaller cities and towns, Mangwana said the decision had been for Harare and Bulawayo only.
When the consultative meetings finally come to Harare and Bulawayo, he said, the original outreach teams would be assisted by others from neighbouring provinces to speed up the process and enable the exercise to be completed within two days.
“We have taken care of that issue and have organised that teams from Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central would join the Harare outreach team while teams deployed for Matabeleland North and South would be required to join the Bulawayo crew,” Mangwana said.
Meanwhile, the accreditation process at provincial centres like Marondera, Matabeleland South and Chinhoyi reportedly took off at a sluggish pace yesterday as outreach teams failed to get accredited and interviews for camera persons were still in progress.
Team members covering Mashonaland East and Harare who yesterday gathered in Marondera for accreditation, reported chaotic scenes at the venue where Copac officials failed to get the process underway until 3pm.
It was not immediately clear what the problem was, but reports were that the process was shambolic. The outreach teams were advised to go back to their hotels and return today for accreditation.
A member of the team who declined to be named said it appeared the confusion emanated from the methods of accreditation, the equipment used and inadequate staff.
Members from Harare travelled back to the capital where more problems awaited them.
Those booked at a local hotel were not immediately given accommodation and were forced to endure hours in the lobby because their bookings had not been paid for.
“We have been waiting here for more than two hours,” said a frustrated lawmaker who preferred anonymity.
“These people are so confused I will be surprised if this process will be successful. First it was the disaster at Marondera where we spent the whole day trying in vain to get accreditation and now this. Some of us who live in Harare are contemplating going to rest at our homes.”
Peter Kunjeku, Copac administration manager, said he was not authorised to comment on Copac matters.