By Tichaona Sibanda
17 October 2012
COPAC has assured delegates from the Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) that they will be encouraged to participate in the 2nd All-Stakeholders conference without aligning themselves to political parties.
The conference kicks off in Harare on Sunday and delegates to the gathering started their accreditation on Tuesday throughout the country.
Following a meeting between leaders of the CSO’s and the three co-chairmen of COPAC in Harare on Wednesday, an undertaking was made that the groups will be treated as independents.
Macdonald Lewanika, the director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, told SW Radio Africa there were perceptions that various CSO’s were aligned to political parties.
‘This is the fallacy that we are trying to do away with given the polarized nature of politics in Zimbabwe. We reassured them that while polarization may be there, the best way to deal with it is not to promote it, like trying to invite CSO’s under political parties,’ Lewanika said.
He added: ‘They should allow civics to participate at the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference in their own right.’
Lewanika said the CSO’s had submitted a provisional list of 408 delegates to COPAC to allow them to compare and see whether all sectors are covered.
‘We have tried to come up with a comprehensive list that includes groups from across the country, including groups that we know are partisan to ZANU PF, like Upfumi Kuvadiki.
‘Over and above that we have been objective in terms of gender, race, religion and the disabled. We have every group covered,’ Lewanika added. Upfumi Kuvadiki, is a so-called youth empowerment group that campaigns for ZANU PF’s indigenization drive.
The COPAC gathering on the draft governance charter is to be attended by at least 1,101 delegates, among them 246 political party representatives, 284 MPs and 571 civil society groups representatives.
Members from the CSO’s, local and foreign observers, including journalists, will be accredited on Friday. Every diplomatic embassy in Harare has also been invited to send officials to observe the proceedings.