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Copac outreach programmes commence

COPAC will from tomorrow start outreach programmes to publicise the draft constitution but a cloud lingers over whether police will allow the meetings to go ahead.

BY NQABA MATSHAZI

Under the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), organisers of public events must advise the police four days before any public meeting, failure to which the event may be cancelled.

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister, Eric Matinenga said he hoped the police could waiver the provision of notifying the police as there was no time.

He said there was little time between when parliament adopted the draft and March 16 this year when the referendum would be held.

“I am still in consultation with the co-ministers of home affairs,” he said yesterday. “I hope the publicity campaigns around the draft will be held in the same manner as the outreach programmes.”

Copac plans to host an intense publicity drive of the draft constitution ahead of a referendum expected to be held in just under three weeks.

Matinenga said he did not remember advising the police of public meetings ahead of the constitutional outreach programmes and he hoped the same spirit would prevail.

Police spokesperson, Charity Charamba said she was not aware whether the provision to notify police ahead of Copac meetings had been waived.

“I will have to find out, I have not heard anything,” she said.
Copac officials hope to start a nationwide campaign tomorrow, where summarised versions of the draft will be distributed.

Already, officials have been sent out to most parts of the country for the publicity campaign that is likely to last a week.
“The exercise is likely to last a week,” Copac spokeswoman, Jessie Majome said. “However, in some areas we may seek more time, as they may be remote and inaccessible.”

Majome said preparations for the publicity campaign had gone well and they had set up various venues across the country.

Meanwhile, the High Court will tomorrow hear an urgent application by the National Constitutional Assembly to have the referendum delayed.
The constitution lobby group argues that one month was inadequate for Zimbabweans to familiarise themselves with the draft constitution, before making an informed decision during a poll.

The Global Political Agreement that led to the creation of the coalition government, states that a referendum on a new constitution should be held within three months of the adoption of the charter by the legislature.

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