THE High Court has ordered COPAC to publish the National Statistical Report on the draft constitution on its website by 10AM on Friday ahead of the start of the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference on Sunday.
Harare businessman Danny Musukuma filed court papers earlier this week to stop the conference until the report was published for Zimbabweans to study it.
Justice Ben Hlatshwayo ordered COPAC to publish a press statement in the national media informing the nation that the report was now accessible on its website.
He also directed COPAC to ensure the distribution of hard copies of the report to the 10 provincial administrators’ offices countrywide by midday on Friday for people to photocopy it.
The parties registered the order by consent. Musukuma represented himself, while Harare lawyer Dumisani Kufaruwenga represented COPAC.
Musukuma described the outcome as a victory for Zimbabweans.
“It is indeed a victory for the 13 million Zimbabweans who are the principal stakeholders in the constitution-making process,” he said.
“COPAC has been reluctant to publish the report, but they are now compelled to release it immediately. I can say we have achieved the principal objective although we had to consent to the non-deferment of the conference.”
The order allows the conference to proceed as scheduled provided COPAC complied with the High Court ruling.
The order states: “COPAC shall release a press statement informing the public through the national and other media that the National Statistical Report is accessible on its website www.copac.org.zw by 10AM on the morning of October 19, 2012.
“Musukuma shall be given his hard copy of the National Statistical Report forthwith.”
The Second All-Stakeholders’ conference will run from Sunday to Tuesday.
Musukuma filed the urgent chamber application arguing that the conference could not proceed without the publication of the national statistical report which carries all the data from the nationwide outreach programme.
Without knowledge of the contents of the national statistical report, Musukuma said Zimbabweans could not meaningfully participate at the conference. He argued that without a published report, the constitution-making process ceased to be people-driven.
Musukuma said failure by COPAC to provide the National Statistical Report to the general populace violated the people’s right to freedom of expression.
Zanu PF had been pushing for the publication of the National Report, arguing that it will show that the COPAC draft constitution does not reflect the people's views. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T party had, meanwhile, insisted that the report should only be released after the referendum.
Meanwhile, civil society organisations yesterday threatened to boycott the conference after COPAC accredited only 71 representatives instead of the 300 they seconded.
Crisis in Zimbabwe director McDonald Lewanika said in an interview that COPAC’S selection criteria should be changed.