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With Public Outreach Completed, Zimbabwe Moves Toward Drafting Constitution

The parliamentary committee in charge of the process will spend three weeks compiling public comment, then form 17 thematic committees which will report to the drafters of the new constitution

Zimbabwe's constitutional revision process reached a turning point this week with the completion of outreach meetings in Harare on Sunday, opening the next phase in which the parliamentary select committee in charge of the process will spend the next three weeks compiling the data collected in outreach sessions since June.

After that, 17 thematic committees will be established comprising civil society activists and legislators who will analyze the mass of public comment and submit reports to a constitutional drafting committee.

Parliamentary Select Committee Co-Chairman Paul Mangwana told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere however that the the time frame for all of these next steps will be determined by how quickly his panel can raise another US$6.5 million in funding required to complete those operations.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, meanwhile, commented that the relative calm in Harare this past weekend showed that Zimbabweans are peace-loving people. ZimRights National Director Okay Machisa said it showed that all the major political parties need to do is to encourage supporters to behave themselves.

Elsewhere, President Robert Mugabe's former ruling ZANU-PF party warned that if the country votes “No” in the eventual constitutional referendum, elections will be held under the existing constitution. Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said that if the draft is rejected, the widely-discredited Lancaster House version will remain in force.

"We believe that the people of Zimbabwe are going to give the new constitution a thumbs-up, but should it fail, we definitely will go for elections under the old constitution," Gumbo said.

Responding to Gumbo's statements, spokeswoman Thabitha Khumalo of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said ZANU-PF was getting ahead of itself in its agenda.

Spokesman Nhlanhla Dube of the MDC formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that his party insists that all reforms be in place before elections.

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