The select parliamentary committee charged with revising Zimbabwe's constitution has come under pressure amid news that it has missed another deadline in drafting the new basic document with closer scrutiny of its eve-mounting costs.
The committee had promised a draft by this week, but now says that the three experts assembling the new constitution will not finish their work until the end of January.
That news came with a report by the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper that the panel is running through US$100,00 dollars a week on accommodation and travel costs and sitting allowances for the 25 members of the committee.
Without confirming or denying those figures, committee co-chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana of President Robert Mugabe's former ruling ZANU-PF party told VOA that the exercise is not as "cheap as buying a dress"
Further delays could be in store as the ZANU-PF politburo called a meeting next week to discuss reports that most Zimbabweans want to set a presidential age limit of 70 years, potentially excluding President Mugabe, 88, from seeking another term in office.
Zimbabweans who took part in a public outreach process in 2010 also favored doing away with the country's second vice presidency. But ZANU-PF hardliners say this would undermine the 1987 Unity Accord which combined rival liberation parties ZANU and PF-ZAPU to form ZANU-PF, ending a post-independence civil conflict.
In recent weeks ZANU-PF and allied war veterans have been threatening to dissociate themselves from the constitution making process if it seeks to “undermine the cardinal goals of our national liberation struggle and our national culture and values.”
ZANU-PF legislator Mangwana told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that the deadline for the constitutional revision has shifted and now the new constitution must be negotiated among the unity government partners to deal with controversial issues.
But political analyst Trevor Maisiri said ZANU-PF cannot pull out of the process as this would incur the wrath of regional leaders in the Southern African Development Community who have urged for reforms in Harare before new elections.