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Zimbabwe War Veterans Demand Dissolution of Parliament, Elections


Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association Chairman Jabulani Sibanda said Monday that the select parliamentary committee in charge of revising the constitution had “betrayed” popular opinion

A grouping of Zimbabwe liberation war veterans has urged President Robert Mugabe to dissolve Parliament and call elections, charging that the parliamentary committee on the constitution has failed to come up with a document in line with people’s views.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association Chairman Jabulani Sibanda said in a statement issued Monday that the select parliamentary committee in charge of revising the constitution had “betrayed” popular opinion by disregarding what voters in an outreach phase said they wanted the constitution to include.

Sibanda said that after reading partial drafts published by the state-run Herald paper he and his fellow veterans were shocked to discover the drafters wanted to leave out key language. He said that in terms of the existing, constitution, President Mugabe must dissolve Parliament and announce a date for new elections.

But war veteran Max Mkhandla, director of the Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Initiative, a rival veterans group, told VOA reporter Chris Gande it was not practical for the president to dissolve Parliament the way the war veterans were proposing.

National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku, whose group has vowed to campaign for a “No” vote on the new constitution in an eventual referendum, told Jonga Kandemiiri that President Mugabe has to agree with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai before proceeding to dissolve Parliament and call elections.

The parliamentary select committee, meanwhile, said it expects a draft of the constitution to be ready by January 19, as drafting got under way again on Tuesday.

Committee co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora told Violet Gonda the committee and the technical team will be based in Mutare, in the east, so that the drafters can work undisturbed.

Drafting was halted last month after ZANU-PF Co-Chairman Paul Mangwana threatened to fire the three drafters, accusing them of ignoring material from the outreach process. He has been accused of leaking material from the process to state-controlled media.

Mwonzora said his committee is confident the draft will soon be done by January 19, and "thereafter we will start marketing the draft" constitution.

Mwonzora said the drafting team moved to Mutare to escape political meddling. “Their presence in Harare was in proximity with party headquarters and people are summoned by various factions of their parties and this is very counterproductive," he said.

But National Constitutional Assembly spokesman Madock Chivasa said the draft is three years overdue so nothing at this point can obscure that it has been a flawed process.

The National Constitutional Assembly wanted a special commission to write the new constitution, and took issue with the process being controlled by politicians.

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