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Zimbabwe's Constitution Making Process in Disarray

President Robert Mugabe
With the clock ticking down on Zimbabwe's 2012 and elections expected next year, as early as March if President Robert Mugabe gets his way, the seven-member cabinet and parliamentary committee writing the new constitution remains at odds.

Their meeting Thursday only highlighted their competing ideas on how to resolve the outstanding issues.

The dispute is now expected to be taken Monday to the three principals in the government of national unity and also the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to try and unblock the logjam.

SADC is the guarantor to Zimbabwe’s unity government. Sources privy to the meeting say six issues remain contentious, with Zanu PF demanding that devolution, a national peace and reconciliation commission and a land commission be scrapped.

The president’s party also opposes the creation of a national prosecution authority trimming the powers of the attorney general. Zanu PF is also calling for a compulsory national youth service and is challenging the composition of the constitutional court.

But the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations insist that the document must not be opened up to new additions as it will only delay the process further. The committee has decided to put the outstanding issues in a separate document.

There has been some reported progress, however, as Zanu PF is said to have compromised on dual citizenship and some security sector reforms.

Speaking to his supporters at the annual Zanu PF conference in Gweru, Mr. Mugabe delivered an ultimatum to the committee, saying that if the constitution is not finalized by the year’s end he will dissolve parliament and call for elections.

Both MDC formations and SADC leaders, have said elections without a new constitution would not be acceptable. Even so, some analysts fear that the stalemate is likely to continue.

A human rights lawyer with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Jeremiah Bamu, told VOA that he believes the chances of a sensible compromise are slim.

Zanu PF officials say they are concerned that the final draft may not adhere to the people’s wishes, so have asked that the draft be audited against recommendations from the Second All-Stakeholders Conference.
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Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga said this review has been concluded and there are some areas of disagreement.

The constitution is now three years behind schedule, per the timetable laid out after 2008’s disputed election that saw the formation of Zimbabwe’s government of national unity.
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