LEGISLATORS are not expected to debate the proposed new charter when it is tabled before Parliament on Tuesday, it has emerged.
BY PATRICE MAKOVA
Last week, Copac completed compiling a report which will accompany the draft constitution when it goes for presentation to Parliament.
Copac co-chairperson, Douglas Mwonzora said the report outlining how the constitution-making process went on for the past four years was completed and adopted on Friday.
This was a day after the draft charter was formally endorsed by the constitution select committee.
He said the report was the only document the Parliamentarians were expected to debate on. Mwonzora said the legislators had no mandate to debate the contents of the draft constitution despite the document being tabled before them.
“There is no need for MPs to purport to debate the new constitution because they are not going to either adopt or reject the document,” he said. “They cannot debate what the people are going to debate. It is only the Copac report that they will debate on.”
Mwonzora said MPs would only debate the draft constitution after the referendum set to take place soon.
“MPs represent people. If the people vote ‘yes’ in a referendum, the debate in Parliament is going to be academic because MPs cannot substitute what the people said,” said Mwonzora.
Zanu PF Copac co-chairperson, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana also said Parliament had no power to change “what came from the people.”
He said while the draft was expected to be tabled before Parliament on Tuesday, the Copac report would be presented on Wednesday, with its debate and immediate adoption set for Thursday.
“The MPs as representatives of the people cannot query what the people said,” Mangwana said “The people will make the final decision when the constitution goes for a referendum.”
Mangwana said merely noting receipt of the draft and not giving MPs an opportunity to debate was not tantamount to Parliament merely rubberstamping the document.
“You cannot say this is rubberstamping because rubberstamping is just endorsing without thinking,” he said.
The three Global Political Agreement principals — President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC leader, Welshman Ncube — recently cleared some of the sticky issues in the draft charter after four years of haggling.
This paved the way for last week’s formal adoption of the draft by Copac.
The parties are already campaigning for a “Yes” vote after agreeing to further compromise on issues such as executive powers, devolution, presidential running mates and the establishment of an independent prosecuting authority and constitutional court.
But Copac critics among them Professor Lovemore Madhuku, who heads the National Constitutional Assembly are campaigning for a “NO” vote.
They are arguing that that the constitution-making process was driven by “principals” instead of being “people” driven.