In a move that is set to derail the constitution-making process, members of the Copac thematic committees went on strike yesterday, protesting against what they said were discrepancies in the contracts they signed.
Members of the thematic committees began work on Monday, but went on strike yesterday accusing the Copac management committee of lacking transparency in drafting their contracts.
The members said they signed contracts on Monday, which stipulated they would work for 14 days, but were surprised yesterday when they were asked to sign new contracts that run for eight days.
In the first contracts, the members were to receive $1 400 each, but the figure was reduced to $800 in the new contracts. This incensed the members, who immediately withdrew themselves from the process in protest.
Copac co-chairperson Edward Mkhosi (MDC) said: “With regards, the contracts, we had said people will be working for 14 days.
In the first eight days, people will be getting the data ready for the report writing and the process is expected to last eight days.
The writing of the report will take six days.” Mkhosi said problems arose after the Copac management committee came up with another contract stipulating the processes would last for eight days.
“People are arguing that we gave them a contract for 14 days and the next day we give them a contract for eight days,” Mkhosi said.
“They are saying ‘we do not know which is the actual contract’ so they have withdrawn their labour pending clarification of which contract is binding,” he said.
“They want a clear contract instead of the contradictions that are there.” Mkhosi said the management committee’s decision was at odds with the contracts agreed upon by Copac’s three co-chairpersons.
“This is very frustrating,” said one member. We are demanding transparency only, nothing more, nothing less.”
However, fears are should the parties fail to find common ground urgently, the referendum, tentatively set for September this year, could be further delayed, dealing a blow to early elections.