Zimbabwe’s New Constitution Now Completed

Zimbabwe's Coat of Arms
Zimbabwe’s Coat of Arms

The final draft of Zimbabwe’s new constitution is now complete and has been signed by all the party negotiators to the GPA and members of COPAC’s management committee.

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC-T party spokesman and COPAC co-chairman, said principals to the GPA will receive a copy of the draft constitution for perusal before Friday. Zimbabweans have been waiting for a new constitution for almost three years.

‘We could have handed them the document today (Wednesday) but we faced a slight problem in that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is in Japan on a government visit. The person who was supposed to receive it on his behalf, Vice-President Thokozani Khupe, has had bereavement in the family and is away attending a funeral,’ Mwonzora said.

The moment Khupe is available COPAC will hand over copies of the drafts, a move described as merely symbolic by the MDC-T MP for Nyanga North.

‘Handing the principals the draft is simply symbolic, it has no legal relevance really, it’s a public relations exercise,’ Mwonzora said, adding that COPAC was also ready to share the document with the media.

He stated that COPAC is now planning for the 2nd all stakeholders’ conference, expected to be held in the next 30 days.

‘We have not yet set a date but it will be staged in the next 30 days where stakeholders will interrogate the document. After that it will be sent to Parliament for gazetting in preparation for a referendum.

‘The way things have gone, it is possible to have a referendum this year. In my respectful view, this could happen in October,’ Mwonzora said.

The legislator, a lawyer by profession, said the constitution belongs to the Zimbabwean people, men, women, children and the old.

‘If we use it properly, maintain it properly, improve it properly, it can become a powerful instrument for our collective liberation from economic oppression, human rights violations and all forms of indignities.

The release of the proposed constitution ends months of political wrangling over the document, expected to replace Zimbabwe’s current constitution which was drawn up when the country won independence in 1980.

The proposed constitution’s most significant reforms are aimed at the country’s political and legal systems. Under the new constitution much of the vast powers of the President have reportedly been transferred to parliament.

Tens of millions dollars of donor funds have been spent on this constitutional exercise and 4,500 outreach meetings were conducted countrywide, gathering people’s views on a new constitution. But there are clear indications the new charter is nothing more than a negotiated document between political parties.

Analysts and civil society organizations are extremely concerned that ultimately the views gathered during the outreach exercise will count for nothing, as the parties have inserted into the constitution positions that are favorable to their political party agendas.