Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
DATES for Copac’s second all stakeholders’ conference have been set though Cabinet has rejected the Referendum Amendment Bill whose proposed changes are reportedly not consistent with the Constitution and the Global Political Agreement.
Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba said President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara met yesterday and agreed that the Constitution-making process be expedited.
“Principals met today (yesterday) to discuss possible dates for the second all stakeholders’ conference.
“Given the President’s UN commitments, it might be held early next month.”
Mr Charamba said it was agreed that the Copac draft should be taken to the second all stakeholders’ conference together with the national report.
This would afford people an opportunity to comment on the draft and read its authenticity against the national report.
Copac kept the national report under wraps after the outreach programme.
This raised scepticism that the Constitution-making body deviated from the views of the people as raised during the outreach programme.
Mr Charamba said it was agreed at the principals’ meeting that after the second all stakeholders’ conference, the leaders would meet to get its outcome.
They would then chart the way forward.
Due to budgetary constraints, Mr Charamba said, there might be a revision on the number of delegates to the conference.
Mr Charamba did not give the exact number of delegates that would attend the event.
However, Copac has said it expects 2 000 delegates at the event, with each political party in the inclusive Government seconding 600 delegates.
The second all stakeholders’ conference was facing another knock after MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora insisted that the national report would only be made public after the completion of the Constitution-making process.
Commenting on claims by the PM’s spokesperson Mr Luke Tamborinyoka that President Mugabe failed to pitch up for two consecutive meetings of political
leaders, Mr Charamba said Tamborinyoka was insulting the President.
“The PM’s spokesperson should stop goading us. He knows very well that the PM missed two Cabinet meetings in a row and on a plausible ground.
“Last week, he was following proceedings in the courts relating to his marital affairs.
“This week he missed Cabinet to find quiet moments after the Saturday ceremony and that was well understood.
“How does a man who cannot find time to attend Cabinet meetings find time to attend smaller meetings of political party leaders?”
In any case, Mr Charamba said, the Tuesday meeting was for political party leaders, that is President Mugabe, PM Tsvangirai and Professor Welshman Ncube.
“What might not be known by Luke is that Prof Ncube sought to be excused from Cabinet to attend to his mother who is unwell,” said Mr Charamba.
He said there was nothing magical for the principals to meet on a Monday.
Mr Charamba said it was President Mugabe who decided to meet his colleagues on that particular day.
Zanu-PF’s Politburo discussed the Copac draft three times and in some cases the meetings ended as late as 3am the following morning.
The party audited the draft and came up with a number of amendments after realising that Copac deviated from the people’s views as captured in the national report.
The MDC formations met for a few hours and endorsed the draft.
The MDC-T leader has already launched a “Yes” vote campaign ahead of the all stakeholders’ conference.
On the Referendum Amendment Bill, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga came up with amendments that found no taker in Cabinet.
The Bill was also rejected by the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.
Zimbabwe is expected to go for a referendum to decide whether or not to accept the Copac draft.
Minister Matinenga confirmed the development yesterday.
“I presented the Bill two weeks ago, but it had no takers. There were issues they wanted addressed.”
In the Bill, the minister had conferred voting rights to people whose other parent was from neighbouring countries such as Malawi and Zambia.
“The children from these unions, in my view are not aliens and should have voting rights. This was rejected by Cabinet,” he said.
Minister Matinenga had also proposed that Zimbabweans resident in other countries be allowed to vote.
“The other issue is the Diaspora vote, in my view they should be allowed to vote. These have been rejected in Cabinet. I will now be revisiting the Bill,” he said.
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa is on record as saying the country would hold any future referendums using the Referendums Act that was promulgated in 2000.
He said there was no need for Zimbabwe to come up with a new Referendums Act or to amend the current one because it was valid.
Minister Chinamasa said no voting facilities would be set up for Zimbabweans resident in other countries.
He said the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs had attempted to amend the Referendums Act without success.
Minister Matinenga had indicated that the whole Act needed to be revamped to make it suitable for current conditions.
The country is this year expected to hold a referendum and subsequently general elections after the completion of the Constitution-making process.