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Zimbabwe Launches US$8m Appeal for Constitution Revision

The appeal came a day after primary financiers, the United Nations Development Program refused to release additional funding to see the consultation phase through to completion

The Zimbabwean government officially appealed Wednesday for some US$8.2 million needed for finalization of consultations for its constitution revision exercise.

The appeal came a day after main financier, the United Nations Development Program, refused to release additional funding to see the phase through.

Launching the appeal in Harare, the co-chairmen of a panel leading the exercise told journalists that donors were shying away due to fatigue.

Paul Mangwana of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party said government was desperate for funds to finalize the public consultation phase.

The UNDP refused this week to release more funds to complete the public outreach process, but said funds for collating data and carrying out the national referendum remained available.

Because of such persistent funding hiccups, Mangwana said the parliamentary select committee for constitutional revision or COPAC had increased the number of consultation meetings per day, hoping to complete the exercise in 85 days instead of the 95 days initially targeted.

COPAC co-chairman, Douglas Mwonzora announced that outreach meetings in metropolitan Harare and Bulawayo will be conducted on the 18th and 19th of this month, adding the whole exercise will wind down on September 20.

Constitution and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga suggested recently that a national referendum for the new constitution was likely in February next year.

But Mangwana told VOA the referendum was not likely earlier than May.

Sources in Mashonaland West province said meanwhile that ZANU-PF supporters disrupted an outreach meeting Wednesday at the Chedonje Primary School in Kadoma after they accused COPAC teams of not giving prior notice.

Another meeting at Ingezi Primary School was stopped after a man who volunteered to offer the opening prayer took the opportunity to attack his opponents, the sources said.

One of the outreach team leaders, Editor Matamisa, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri it was unfortunate that ZANU-PF activists decided to disrupt the meetings.

Constitutional affairs lecturer Greg Linington of the University of Zimbabwe said the confusion and chaos in the outreach will adversely affect the eventual holding of free and fair elections.

Elsewhere, outreach teams in Matabeleland South were expected to hold consultations in Bulilima district next week.

But the member of Parliament for the constituency, Moses Mzila Ndlovu, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Brenda Moyo that COPAC is not doing enough to notify villagers about meetings.