Referendum now expected between March and May 2012

Zimbabweans will vote to approve or reject the proposed new Constitution between 30th March and 30th May, a Copac co-chairman has said.

Douglas Mwonzora
Douglas Mwonzora

Douglas Mwonzora, co-Chairman of the multi-party Constitution Select Committee, met President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team in Harare on Wednesday and told them of these proposed dates. At the meeting was Lindiwe Zulu, Zuma’s international relations advisor, Charles Nqakula plus the South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe.

The other two Copac co-chairmen (from ZANU PF and the MDC-N) were in Victoria Falls for a Zimbabwe-South Africa joint commission conference on security. Zuma’s team jetted into Harare on Tuesday for various meetings with party negotiators, Copac, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Civil Society groups.

Mwonzora said: ‘The drafting of the constitution will begin on the 20th November and this will take us to the end December. In between December and March there will be a second all stakeholders meeting and a report back to Parliament. They (Zuma’s team) wanted to know if there’s been progress at Copac and tentative timelines for the drafting of the new constitution in order for them to assess the situation.’

The MDC-T legislator said the process of drafting a constitution, which is running 16 months behind schedule, has made some ‘considerable progress’ in recent months.

‘We have completed the pre-drafting exercise. We have agreed on the identity of drafters and the structure of the drafting team. We have also agreed on the constitutional principals, constitutional framework and on the constitutional issues that came from the outreach,’Mwonzora said.

The drafting team comprises Justice Moses Chinhengo (a Judge at the Botswana High Court), former Zimbabwe High Court Judge Priscilla Madzonga and Brian Crizier (former legal drafter in the Attorney-General’s office and also a legal practitioner in Harare).

Under the original agreement signed in September 2008, which formed the basis for the formation of a coalition government, the country was supposed to have a new constitution by July 2010. The new charter is meant to clear the way for fresh polls following the country’s bloody 2008 elections. – SW Radio Africa

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