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ZZZICOMP’s Preliminary Observations On The Copac Second All Stakeholders Conference

ZZZICOMP’s Preliminary Observations On The Copac Second All Stakeholders Conference


HARARE, 25 October 2012-After observing the proceedings in the run-up to, 
and during, the just ended Constitution Select Committee COPAC) Second All 
Stakeholders’ Conference of 22-23 October 2012, the Zimbabwe Peace Project 
(ZPP), Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for 
Human Rights (ZLHR) Independent Constitution Monitoring Project (ZZZICOMP) 
considers it appropriate to express its preliminary observations on this 
national process.

ZZZICOMP notes that accreditation of delegates was decentralised to the 
provinces, and this assisted in speeding up the process of registering 
participants. Whilst there did not seem to be challenges with the 
accreditation of political party delegates from the parties to the Global 
Political Agreement (GPA), inclusivity of other political parties was 
questionable. In addition, a high level of political interference from all 
three political parties to the GPA was observed in the accreditation of 
civil society participants. Although this was eventually (although not 
fairly) resolved, this adversely affected the ability of the civil society 
to adequately and independently prepare for and participate in the 
Conference in a non-politicised and non-partisan manner. It is necessary for 
both the political parties and the broad civil society to disentangle 
themselves and understand their roles as this constitution-making process 
continues, failing which they will continue to do a disservice to the 
broader population who have issues which may be peripheral to the objectives 
and priorities of the three political parties in government.

The accreditation of observers was centralised to Harare, however. Whilst 
international observers experienced no challenges with accreditation, local 
observation groups experienced considerable challenges, including a 
restriction on numbers of observers and an atmosphere of distrust and lack 
of cooperation by COPAC staff which was only resolved after the intervention 
of the three COPAC co-chairpersons. Whilst ZZZICOMP had 420 observers 
registered during previous stages of the constitution-making process, this 
was reduced to 2 initially, and after negotiations was raised to a mere 10 
observers. This proved to be a challenge for detailed observation of each 
thematic breakaway session and the general rollout of the Second 
All-Stakeholders’ Conference.

The Second All Stakeholders’ Conference was held in a generally peaceful 
environment and ZZZICOMP commends COPAC and delegates for generally 
conducting themselves in a courteous manner that was free from the violence 
which characterised the First All Stakeholders Conference held in 2009 in 
which some delegates and observers were assaulted resulting in a premature 
adjournment of proceedings.

However, ZZZICOMP still recorded incidences where some delegates resorted to 
intimidation, harassment, heckling and issuing verbal threats against other 
delegates as they squabbled during the thematic breakaway sessions and for 
expressing dissenting views. Such an environment is hardly conducive to the 
expression of citizens’ voices and choices since it involuntarily induces 
fear. Whether real or perceived, fear muzzles freedom of expression.

ZZZICOMP acknowledges the role played by the Principals to the GPA, who 
through their remarks denounced violence and emphasised tolerance during the 
process. This attitude could have had a bearing in exorcising the demons of 
violence out of some delegates. ZZZICOMP regrets the initial boycott of the 
proceedings by Professor Welshman Ncube’s party, as a critical constituency 
of this national process, but commends the SADC facilitation team for its 
interventions to ensure their participation in the thematic breakaway 
sessions. We urge all political players to put aside personal differences 
for the good of the nation as we proceed to the final stages of the 
constitution-making process.

ZZZICOMP observers and those from other civil society organisations were 
subjected to some form of discriminatory screening by security teams manning 
the entrances before they could access the main Harare International 
Conference Centre (HICC) auditorium despite presenting their accreditation 
tags to COPAC personnel. In addition our observers also noted that the 
venues where the breakaway sessions were held were not easily accessible, as 
physically challenged persons could not access the first floor of the HICC 
to participate in the thematic deliberations.

Language barriers were noted as all the material used during the conference 
deliberations were in English and no provision was made for -local 
languages. Administrative and logistical hitches were recorded as some 
electronic equipment was not availed on time during thematic deliberations 
leading to some protests by some delegates who insisted on such tools being 
made available. In addition, some groups experienced delays in commencing 
their work as the materials were not readily available.

Incidents of coaching of party delegates by all three political parties in a 
bid to safeguard their political party aspirations were rampant. For 
example, pamphlets entitled “Keypoints to note at the conference” were 
parceled out to some delegates and they constantly referred to or read from 
these notes verbatim during discussions on thematic issues. Worryingly, our 
observers noted racial intolerance after some ZANU PF delegates, who were 
evaluating the Agricultural Land thematic chapter ejected a diplomat from 
one of the local embassies, who had been accredited to observe the process. 
Disputes tended to follow the lines of previously publicised amendments for 
which ZANU PF has been advocating.

It is our view that President Robert Mugabe’s comments dismissing COPAC’s 
consideration of qualitative data at the expense of quantitative data and 
slamming the constitutional reform body’s co-chairs for allegedly wielding 
excessive power and declaring that the Principals to the GPA will have the 
ultimate authority on the outcome of the governance charter is likely to 
skew the process’ outcome. This scenario, which breaches the principle of 
constitutionalism, is of utmost concern as party interests usually have a 
short-term perspective rather than the inter-generational and non-partisan 
focus expected in a constitution-making process. Such utterances reinforce 
the already existing high risk of producing a constitution that panders to 
the short-term interests of political parties and individuals. The coalition 
government needs to be reminded that the Constitution is not written merely 
for the generation that exists at the time of its being authored but for 
unlimited and perpetual posterity and not for rulers who would be 
intoxicated with excessive power.

ZZZICOMP notes that the Conference ended without clarity as to the immediate 
next steps that will be taken to finalise the draft. It is critical for 
COPAC to provide clarity in this regard so as to reduce tensions and 
opportunities for political manipulation. Mindful of the provision in 
Article VI of the GPA, that the constitution-making process is not a 
political process but a process for citizens of Zimbabwe, ZZZICOMP appeals 
to COPAC to increase confidence-building measures in the process and 
publicly outline the roadmap that should finally lead to a referendum. We 
also urge the Executive to refrain from interfering in the process and 
ensure that they strictly comply with provisions of Article VI. Given the 
issues noted by ZZZICOMP, it is now up to Zimbabweans to decide on the 
acceptability of a governance charter that emanates from this process 
through the referendum held in a conducive environment.

In conclusion, we urge COPAC to move swiftly to conclude the process as 
continued delays have the effect of taking attention and energy away from 
other key institutional and legislative reform processes which are necessary 
to proceed to an election which is free, fair and whose outcome will not be 
disputed. SADC should also continue to remain invested in its oversight of 
the processes to ensure that it is not further manipulated. ENDS//


The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) 
and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) Independent Constitution 
Monitoring Project (ZZZICOMP) has been shadowing the COPAC process in order 
to adjudge how democratic and transparent the constitution-making process 
is, and if it accurately reflects the input of broad and diverse popular 
participation. ZZZICOMP is a non-partisan, independent and professional 
partnership whose main functions are to promote peace, democratic elections 
and to foster a culture of human rights and constitutionalism in Zimbabwe.

For further information and comments please contact ZZZICOMP on Email: 
[email protected] / [email protected] / [email protected] 



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