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Zimbabwe Constitution Drafters Told to Clean Up 'Disappointing' Charter

Zimbabwe's parliamentary committee drafting the country’s new charter has been given until Friday to polish its draft, which has been described by legal experts as "disappointing and half-backed".

The committee had finally submitted the long-awaited draft to government, almost two years behind schedule.

It is not yet clear though when a referendum will be held. If approved, the new constitution will pave way for elections that will bring to an end Zimbabwe's fragile, three-year-old coalition government.

Co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai confirmed the committee has been told by its principals to clean-up the draft ahead of the management committee’s meeting Monday to finalize the charter.

Sources say contrary to reports devolution is the only factor stalling the completion of the process, there are a number of issues still outstanding.

These include dual citizenship, land, the number of lawmakers the country should have, among others. The draft also has too many typographical errors, an issue analysts say is an embarrassment given resources poured into the process.

Most issues that many thought have been agreed on by the three political parties in the inclusive government have also been left out of the draft.

Some controversial issues like dual citizenship have been referred to parliament. Apart from tightening the loose ends, the select committee is also facing a serious challenge from ZANU-PF hardliners, who are threatening to derail the process.

ZANU-PF caucused in Harare Tuesday where hardliners said they will not endorse the draft, arguing it does not reflect the people’s views.

President Robert Mugabe will on Thursday chair a crucial meeting of his party's supreme decision-making body, the Politburo, that is expected to discuss the draft and also the divisions that have rocked ZANU-PF in its on-going district coordinating committee meetings.

There is also confusion within the parliamentary committee about the role political parties will play in analyzing the draft.

Some officials say they still can force changes, but others say they do not have that power at this stage. Constitutional Minister Eric Matinenga told VOA that progress is being made despite the setbacks.