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Zimbabwe Parties Fight Over Control of Draft Constitution

  • Jonga Kandemiiri

Zimbabwe’s Second All Stakeholders Conference to evaluate the draft constitution ended Tuesday with the parliamentary select committee responsible for the charter saying it will take at least a week to consider submissions made by delegates.

Sharp differences emerged after the conference with Zanu PF immediately calling for the overhauling of the draft document.

South African President Jacob Zuma and his counterparts in the Southern African Development Community troika are likely to be called in to unblock the latest constitutional logjam in Harare after the conference appeared to have widened the gap between the three political parties in the government of national unity.

Mr. Zuma was mandated at the Maputo SADC summit to intervene in Harare in the event there was a constitutional gridlock.

Zanu PF members told VOA after the conference that they wanted some provisions including dual citizenship, presidential powers, devolution of power and one that mandated presidential candidates to choose running mates, to be revised.

It also remains unclear as to who will now take over from constitution-making process.

President Mugabe insisted Monday that the three principals in the unity government have the final say on the draft.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai stressed the role of parliament in finalizing the draft, telling delegates to the conference that he would not meddle in the constitution-making process.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition regional coordinator Phillan Zamchiya said Mr. Mugabe must not be allowed to stage an executive coup.

If adopted as the country’s new charter, the constitution will pave the way for fresh elections that President Mugabe says should be held next year in March.

In preparation for that eventuality, a workshop hosted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to train voter educator trainers was conducted in Bulawayo with participants calling for more such initiatives to ensure that ordinary people are aware of their basic rights.

More than 20 civic society representatives, mainly from Matabeleland and Harare, attended the workshop which is the first of its kind organized by ZEC.

Another workshop is expected to be held soon in Manicaland Province. VOA could not get a comment from ZEC officials.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association director Okay Machisa welcomed the ZEC initiative saying it will empower the electorate.
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