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Zimbabwe Constitutional Committee Urges "Yes" Vote in Distant Referendum

  • Jonga Kandemiiri

Zimbabwe's constitutional revision process has been stalled for a week amid a persistent dispute between ZANU-PF and the MDC over how data collected during a 2010 public outreach process should be compiled

Two of the parliamentary officials in charge of revising Zimbabwe's constitution this week urged voters to cast "Yes" ballots when the overhauled basis document comes up for a referendum later this year - though their committee is far from a working draft.

Co-chairman Paul Mangwana of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU_PF and his colleague Douglas Mwonzora of Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said they hope to have a draft by September to be voted on.

But the revision process has been stalled for a week amid a dispute between ZANU-PF and the MDC over how data collected during a 2010 public outreach process should be compiled - quantitatively, counting expressions of a particular point of view, as ZANU-PF would have it, or qualitatively, taking context into account, as the MDC wishes.

The MDC has accused ZANU-PF of coaching supporters and packing outreach meetings to push its viewpoints - and of intimidating rural inhabitants to state those views.

Sources late Monday said the constitutional management committee, which includes not only the parliamentary committee chairs but also party negotiators, agreed that all state security agents representing ZANU-PF on so-called thematic committees digesting public input - including Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba - must resign.

The committee will meet again on Thursday in a bid to resolve the quantitative-versus-qualitative dispute over how to filter down huge quantities of public input.

Mangwana told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that a “Yes” vote on the draft constitution will economically empower the Zimbabwe people because the new basic document will reflect their wishes. Co-Chairman Edward Mkhosi of the smaller MDC wing led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said it is early days to talk about “Yes” or "No" votes, but added that doesn't expect Zimbabweans to reject the document.

National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku, whose group opposes the parliamentary-led drafting process and will campaign for a "No" vote, said people are not free to decide on the constitution, as the process has been led by politicians.

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