Civil society can observe constitution drafting — Copac

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Civic society organisations have now been cleared to observe the drafting stage of the new Constitution, but with conditions, Copac co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) has said.

“We are almost through with finalising the construction of district, provincial and national reports in preparation for drafting and we should begin drafting the new Constitution in the next two weeks if everything is well,” Mwonzora said on Tuesday.

“We are within the time limit and expect, the drafters, Botswana High Court judge Justice Moses Chinhengo and lawyers Priscilla Madzonga and Brian Crozier, to begin in a fortnight,” he said.

Mwonzora said civic society was free to observe drafting, but modalities had to be worked out on how this would be done.

“We did not stop civic society from observing the drafting process and we will allow them to observe every aspect of the constitution-making process. However, we have to agree with them on how they would carry out the observations as well as discuss issues of publicity with them because we do not want the drafting process to be spoilt by premature publicity of issues before they are finalised,” said Mwonzora.

The Nyanga North MP said smaller political parties outside the coalition government could only be allowed to participate during the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference as well as the referendum, but not during the drafting stage.

Last week, Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn secretary for communications Silver Bhebe told NewsDay that the Copac draft was likely to be flawed since it excluded smaller political parties.

“We were only included during the outreach programmes, but we were not given positions as rapporteurs or team leaders. We definitely want to be in the process and we will critique the draft when it is out during the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference,” Bhebe said.