Zimbabwe's often-troubled constitutional-revision process was back on track Friday after the three governing parties compromised on the methodology to be used to sift and summarize public comment from last year’s outreach phase of the exercise.
The current thematic committee phase stalled when representatives of the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe insisted on a quantitative approach to the evaluation of public comment, weighting particular points according to how frequently they came up in the accounts of public outreach sessions prepared by rapporteurs.
The two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change objected that this would favor ZANU-PF position as the party has been accused of scripting public comments and intimidating members of the public into endorsing its positions in meetings.
The matter was referred to the constitutional revision management committee, which includes party negotiators, and it was agreed to adopt a mixed quantitative-qualitative approach in summarizing and simplifying public opinion.
Co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the parliamentary select committee in charge of the constitutional revision, said his MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was satisfied that with the agreement the drafting process will not be subverted.
The management committee resolved that in cases where multiple meetings were held in a given location in the country, such meetings would be combined to avoid given an undue weight to the opinions expressed by participating members of the public.
Thematic committees focused on forms of government, electoral systems, human rights and so forth will also take into account the atmosphere that prevailed in meetings.
Intimidation was reported in a number of rural communities when meetings were held and in Harare and other cities violence broke out forcing meetings to be rescheduled.
Mwonzora said the committees will also consider general and disabilities.
Thematic committee members have had to deal with strong points of view coming from ZANU-PF strongholds in Mashonaland, including calls for tough punishment of journalists reporting falsehoods and proposals to prohibit the wearing of trousers by women.
Mwonzora told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira, however, that not everything called for during the outreach process will find its way into the final constitution.
ZANU-PF select committee co-chairman Paul Mangwana said all parties were happy with the agreement that allowed the thematic phase to proceed.
He said his party was surprised when the two MDC formations pulled-out of the process saying it was his party's belief that all participants had agreed to use both so-called quantitative and qualitative approaches as they analyze the millions of views from Zimbabwe en route to drafting a new constitution for the country.