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The Constitution Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) was a Constitution Select Committee of the Parliament mandated with the drawing up a new constitution for Zimbabwe by the Government of National Unity between 2009 and 2013. It was established in April 2009. COPAC was founded based on Article VI of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which was signed on 15 September 2008. The new Constitution was aimed at replacing the old Constitution which had been a product of the Lancaster House Conference of 1979 and was widely regarded as inadequate because it had many shortcomings and had to be amended 19 times.

Contents

Structure

The Select Committee is led by three Co-chairpersons who were selected from each party of the Government of National Unity (GNU).

COPAC was composed of 25 members of the 7th Parliament of Zimbabwe who were selected from the three political parties to spearhead the crafting of a new Constitution. The 25 members were referred to as the Select Committee of Parliament on the new Constitution.

The following were the other members of the Committee:

Management Committee and Steering Committee

Other structures within COPAC included the Management Committee and the Steering Committee. The Management Committee comprised of the negotiators of the GPA, the three Co-chairpersons of the Select Committee and the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs. This committee provided policy direction to the Constitution - making process. The Steering Committee was composed of the three Co-chairpersons of the Select Committee, their three deputies and two representatives from Civil Society,namely Dr.Hope Sadza and Professor Phinias Makhurane. The Steering Committee was responsible for overseeing the implementation of decisions of the Management Committee, while the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs was the focal point for the Constitution making process.

Secretariat

The COPAC Secretariat was responsible for supporting the Select Committee in running the day to day activities of the organization. Secretariat was set up and started working in December 2009. The Secretariat was headed by the National Co-ordinator, Peter Kunjeku.

Technical Advisors

Prominent Zimbabwean UK based Lawyer and educator, Alex Magaisa was a COPAC Technical Advisor.

Mandate

The Select Committee of Parliament was mandated by Article VI of the GPA which read:

6.1. The Parties hereby agree:

(a) that they shall set up a Select Committee of Parliament composed of representatives of the Parties whose terms of reference shall be as follows: (i) To set up such Sub- Commitees chaired by a member of Parliament and composed of Members of Parliament and representatives of Civil Society as may be necessary to assist the Select Committee in performing its mandate herein; (ii) To hold such public hearings and such consultations as it may deem necessary in the process of public consultation over the making of a new constitution for Zimbabwe.

Article 6.1.(c) of the GPA also outlines that:-

(vii) The draft Constitution emerging from Parliament shall be gazetted before the holding of a referendum. (viii) A referendum on the new draft Constitution shall be held within three months of the conclusion of the debate. (ix) In the event of the draft Constitution being approved in the referendum it shall be gazetted within one month of the date of the referendum.

Trivia

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Democrats

The making of the new constitution was the subject of the documentary film Democrats released in 2014.[1]. The film was directed and produced by Camilla Nielsson.





References

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  1. Democrats (2014) , IMDB, Retrieved: 5 September 2016