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Referendum in September — Copac


Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) co-chairman, Douglas Mwonzora, on Wednesday said the committee will resume work on January 10 next year and hopes to have a referendum later in September, immediately casting doubt on the prospects of early elections.

The Constitution is the first step in the roadmap towards holding of free and fair elections prescribed under the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

This Monday, the three principals to the GPA President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara said they would pursue the constitutional reform exercise first before any elections were held.

Analysts saw this as a volte-face from what Zanu PF had endorsed at its 11th conference last week and the demands by the MDC-T to have presidential polls to resolve the impasse in the inclusive government.
Mwonzora told NewsDay: “When the principals addressed the press on Monday, we discovered that some of them were reading from a Copac report .

Unfortunately, that was a draft prepared in October and it had been circulated among members of the management committee for their input.

“The timelines given on that draft were based on the situation as we saw it at that time.

“We thought November would be productive and we were going to start uploading the data gathered. Unfortunately, we have already lost two months, that is November and December.”

Mwonzora said if the process starts on January 10 with the uploading of information, the referendum would be held in September.

“The thematic committee will sit between February and March. The drafting of the constitution will then be in April with the All- Stakeholders’ Conference slated for May. Parliament will sit in June to approve of the draft and the referendum will be in September,” he said.

He, however, said all this was based on the assumption that material and financial resources would be made available on time.

“Unfortunately, it never happens on time,” he said.
Zanu PF’s Copac co-chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, said availability of resources was crucial to completing the constitution.

“Uploading of information will start on January 10 next year but if the resources will be available for us to stick to the time- line, it will be something else. If we make a lot of progress we will be cutting down on the timeline. We need to get all the resources to stick to the timeline,” he said.

National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku however said President Mugabe was “cheating” his co-principals and the nation but would stand with Zanu PF decisions.

“He is just cheating those other people. The Zanu PF resolution on elections does not say when they will be held. He (President Mugabe) is good at cheating the public. He will just go by what was agreed at the conference,” he said.

Madhuku said it was possible for Copac to meet the deadline because they could just write anything and call it a constitutional draft. “Copac can come up with a draft on any day. They are not serious. There will be a Copac draft but there will be no Constitution. It will be rejected by the people,” he said.

Mwonzora, however, said the draft that Copac would come up with would contain the wishes of the people and would not be rejected. Academic and political analyst Lawton Hikwa said he believed the principals were sincere.

“Individual parties will have their own sentiments, which might not agree with the politics governing the country at the time. As leaders, they needed to come out as a threesome and tell the nation where we are going.

“I think the Prime Minister answered that question very well, that as much as they are thinking about elections, those elections would come after certain conditions are met,” he said.

Hikwa said he hoped history would not repeat itself and the constitution would not be rejected.

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