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Zimbabwe & Donors Agree Harare Will Put Up US$5 Million for Constitutional Rewrite

Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora of Parliament’s Select Committee on Constitutional Revision said the demand by donors for Harare to contribute 30 percent of costs was due to a breakdown of communications

The Zimbabwean government will put up US$5 million to partially its constitutional revision process following a meeting Wednesday with international donors who initially asked Harare to meet 30 percent of costs to show its commitment to the exercise.

Total costs are expected to add up to 21 million u-s dollars, government sources said.

Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora of Parliament’s Select Committee on Constitutional Revision said the donor demand for cost-sharing was due to a breakdown of communications between Harare and donors led by the United Nations Development Program.

The government of Zimbabwe will cover security costs projected at US$2 million, plus the training of outreach rapporteurs and air time on state media.

Mwonzora told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that with this agreement in place he hopes the process can be fully funded without further delays.

Elsewhere, the advocacy group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe and the Human Rights NGO Forum have issued statements taking issue with recent comments by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as to whether the new constitution should protect gay rights, demanding that he clearly state his position on the issue.

At a women's rights function in the Harare satellite town of Chitungwiza last week, President Robert Mugabe reiterated his opposition to protecting sexual preference rights, and the state-run Herald newspaper, a mouthpiece for Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, quoted Mr. Tsvangirai as saying he agreed with Mr. Mugabe, adding a remark intended to be humorous as to why Zimbabwean men needed to court other men when women account for 52 percent of the population.

But Mr. Tsvangirai in his regular newsletter this week declared “there can be no place in the new Zimbabwe for hate speech or the persecution of any sector of our population based on race, culture, sexual orientation or political affiliation.” Gay activists however urged him to publicly and unequivocally state his position through a medium with greater reach than his newsletter.

Studio 7 correspondent Fazila Mahomed reported from Harare on the concerns of rights activists.