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Zimbabwe Inches Closer to Crucial General Polls

  • Blessing  Zulu
  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Unity government principals in Zimbabwe are next week expected to announce the date for the long-delayed constitutional referendum, paving the way for general elections to be called in the first half of the year to end the shaky coalition.

President Robert Mugabe and his Movement for Democratic Change rivals, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Industry Minister Welshman Ncube and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara announced a deal Thursday, ending more than three years of fierce bickering over the charter, removing a key obstacle to the holding elections this year.

Senior officials from the three political parties in the government told VOA that the referendum is likely to be called at the end of March or beginning of April.

Copac co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora representing Tsangirai's told VOA that drafters are now working to complete the draft charter following Thursday's agreement.

Zanu-PF COPAC co-chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said Mr. Mugabe will proclaim the date for the referendum soon.

Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga, representing the MDC formation led by Ncube in the COPAC management committee, said some work is being sent to parliament.

Despite agreement on the final draft by the country’s top political leaders, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) said it is gearing up for a no-vote campaign against the draft charter.

The civil society body opposed the revision process from the outset and was instrumental in the rejection of the Zanu-PF sponsored draft constitution in 2000.

NCA spokesman Madock Chivasa told VOA the politicians who are crafting the new constitution ignored the people's views.