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Zimbabwe Parliament to Table Draft Charter Next Month

Zimbabwe's parliament is now set to discuss the constitutional draft in the second week of February when the Lower House resumes sitting.

Last week, the country's rival political parties agreed on a final draft of a constitution that will be put to a referendum ahead of crucial elections expected this year.

On Friday, the three drafters of the long awaited constitution were given the nod by Constitution Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) to produce the final draft.

The three COPAC drafters are Moses Chinhengo, a former High Court judge, Priscilla Madzonga, a senior legal practitioner and former drafter in the Attorney-General’s office, and Brian Crozier, a former director of legal drafting in the Attorney-General’s office.

The principals will then announce the date for the referendum after receiving the final draft next week.

President Robert Mugabe is currently in Ethiopia where he is attending the African Union summit. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is now back in Harare after attending the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switerland.

COPAC co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC-T told VOA that they are ready to table the draft before parliment.
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Zanu-PF co-chairman, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana of Zanu-PF concurred saying he expects the nation to vote for the referendum.
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Edward Mkhosi, select committee co-chairman of the MDC formation of Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, said Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga will release a statement on Saturday confirming the conclusion of the draft constitution.

Mkhosi said the draft reflects views collected from people nationwide during the outreach phase.

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President Robert Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai were forced into a power-sharing government in 2009 after the deadly and disputed poll held the previous year. The unity government though has been largely dysfunctional due to policy discord.

Mr. Mugabe, who is 88 and has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, has insisted on elections being held in March while Mr. Tsvangirai wanted reforms first to allow for fair and violence-free polls.

Mr Tsvangirai, 60, pulled out of a presidential run-off election in 2008, citing the killing of about 300 supporters. The Southern African Development Community and the African Union are gurantors of the Global Political Agreement that led to the formation of the coalition government.