Zim draft constitution to get green light from pact parties

Farai Shoko

Zimbabwe's major parties could endorse the draft constitution after finally coming to an agreement on contentious issues that stalled the process.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (L) announce the conclusion of the constitution-making process on January 17 2013. (AFP)

After removing sticky issues in the draft constitution following nearly four years of haggling and bickering, Zimbabwe's three partners in the power-sharing pact are likely to steer their parties to endorse the document at a referendum on a date yet to be announced.

Last Thursday President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and Minister of Industry and Commerce Welshman Ncube jointly announced that contentious issues in the constitutional draft have been resolved, without divulging the finer details.

Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said his party's politburo is expected to rubber-stamp the final document this week, as Mugabe has agreed to its contents. "We need to dissect the draft to ensure that most of the issues raised during the second all-stakeholders conference are included," he said.

"But since the president [Mugabe] has approved [it], we [the politburo] will follow. It's a foregone conclusion that we will accept [what was agreed]."

Party insiders for both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change said the "yes" vote for the draft constitution will now prevail. 

There had been disagreements over running mates, devolution of power, the attorney general's office, the scope and limit of presidential powers, a peace and reconciliation commission, a land commission and the terms of office for parastatal chief executives.

Zanu-PF wanted to remove the running mates clause altogether, reportedly fearing that its own succession battles could spill into the public arena.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network, which has been following the constitution-making process for the past four years, is concerned that taking the draft back to the parties' standing committees and the politburo will hold up the process. The network said the parties could propose more changes, leading to further delays.

To see video footage showing how the process of drafting a new constitution was fraught with intimidation, click here

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