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Take it or leave it, MPs told

THE negotiators of the inclusive government have told MPs demanding hefty allowances during the outreach programme of the constitution-making process, which starts next week, to quit if they cannot accept the US$25 daily allowance.

The Zimbabwe Independent gathered that members of the constitution-making management committee, which is dominated by inter-party talks negotiators from Zanu PF and the two MDC formations, reined in lawmakers who last week threatened to withdraw from the outreach programme unless they were paid a US$75 daily allowance. The management committee is responsible for supervising and approving the constitution-making process workflow and budgets.

“We are giving them US$25 and nothing has changed. We told them that if they do not take what we are offering, they can leave. After all we were given their names by their parties and we told them that they can easily be replaced,” said Welshman Ncube, secretary general of the Mutambara-led MDC formation and the party’s chief negotiator of the unity government.

Coalition government principals, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara on Wednesday launched the outreach programme in Harare.
Donors, through the United Nations Development Programme, are the main funders of the programme.

Gift Chimanikire, a member of a welfare committee for MPs, insisted on the legislators’ demands, adding that the principals should intervene and consider increasing the allowances.
“We are going ahead with the outreach programme assuming that we will get a response (on our demands) from our principals,” Chimanikire told the Independent yesterday.

It was not possible to get comment from Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, chairman of the welfare committee on the latest developments.

Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (Copac) co-chairperson Edward Mkhosi said MPs and rapporteurs were on Monday expected to meet in the country’s 10 provincial capitals before embarking on the outreach programme on Wednesday.

“Everything is in place. The UNDP made a direct payment for the equipment needed and we expect the team to meet in provincial capitals on Monday. They will then go for induction on Tuesday before deployment the next day,” Mkhosi said.

Douglas Mwonzora, the other joint Copac co-chairperson, said a draft constitution would be ready by October, after which the newly established Zimbabwe Electoral Commission would set dates for a referendum.

Mwonzora said police had confirmed their commitment to the process, although the issue of the exact number of officers to be involved in the process remained “work in progress”.

Copac and the police have previously clashed over allowances, with the parliamentary committee refusing to foot bills for the force. This led the police to reduce numbers of officers to provide security and maintain peace during the programme from 1000 to 350. This would translate to five officers per outreach team.

The drafting of a new constitution is captured under Article Six of the Global Political Agreement, which forms the basis of the coalition government.

Once complete, and if accepted by the majority, the new governance charter is expected to lay the foundation for future credible elections.

Bernard Mpofu

 

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