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COPAC Takes Draft Constitution to Zimbabweans

Constitution making process
The Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) on Monday launched a nationwide publicity campaign to educate ordinary Zimbabweans on the draft charter ahead of the March 16 national constitutional referendum.

COPAC teams will from Tuesday start distributing 10,000 copies of the document to each province. The copies will be distributed to COPAC district administrators so that people can read the charter before the referendum.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper Monday carried copies of the document as inserts for its readers.

Officials said nearly 90,000 copies will be circulated - 70,000 in English and the remainder in various local languages. Translated copies are expected to be completed by Wednesday for circulation.

VOA spoke with COPAC co-chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana who said the campaign is fully underway.

Meanwhile, lawyers representing the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) will Tuesday file an urgent High Court application seeking to force the government to give the people more time to study the draft constitution and move the date of the referendum from March 16 to a later date.

Lawyers from Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni law firm, who are representing the NCA, said President Robert Mugabe, who proclaimed the referendum date, is the first respondent while the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that will administer the process will be the second respondent.

NCA attorney Andrew Makoni said their client feels that the 30 days announced by the president from February the 15 to March 16 are not enough for Zimbabweans to go through the draft and make informed decisions when voting in a referendum.
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In a statement Monday, the NCA said it views the move to have the referendum on March 16 as a ploy by the parties in government to deny Zimbabweans a chance to scrutinise the flawed and undemocratic draft which they authored.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told a press conference in Harare that Zimbabwe plans to borrow from local companies to raise $100 million needed to hold a referendum on a new constitution with donors expected to finance elections later in the year.

"The finances required for the referendum and the parallel voter registration and inspection is US$100 million. We believe we can raise that internally,” said Tsvangirai.