The Zimbabwean parliamentary select committee in charge of revising the constitution has a draft of the new basic document from legal experts, but committee sources say there are many issues to be resolved which could considerably delay the process.
Potentially contentious issues range from multiple ownership of farms following land reform to electoral system reform, human rights, the death penalty and gay rights. In light of this, the committee now says it could take to next May to hold a national referendum.
Committee sources noted as well that their panel will take a break soon to accommodate the annual conference of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
Committee Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that it should be possible to reach common ground on the outstanding issues.
Lawyer Jeremiah Bamu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the constitution is likely to be a compromise document given wide differences between the ruling parties in the national unity government put in place in February 2009.
Rewriting the constitution was one of the unity government's key tasks but doing so has been a long and costly process. Staging a referendum could be nearly as difficult given the resurgence of political violence in the country in recent months, and the fact that the referendum will set the stage for a new round of national elections.
Elections in 2008 were marred by violence that claimed hundreds of lives.