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‘Constitution-making behind schedule’

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The cash-strapped constitution-making process is behind schedule by at least one month casting doubts on the possibility of holding proposed elections mid-next year under a new supreme law.

President Robert Mugabe has already said he would want polls held mid-next year and has reportedly ordered the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) to accelerate the constitution-making exercise.

Copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed that the process was running behind schedule. “The constitution-making process is way behind schedule,” said Mwonzora. “It’s actually behind by a month.”

In his 2011 National Budget presentation, Finance minister Tendai Biti said as part of its commitment to fulfil the provisions of the Global Political Agreement, government in partnership with co-operating partners provided $137 million towards the constitution-making process.

Of this amount, government contributed US$4,8 million towards training of teams and the outreach programme.

This intervention enabled outreach teams to fully cover all the provinces by the end of October.

Biti allocated $1 million for the referendum but nothing for the remaining stages of the constitution-making process.

“The select committee still requires close to $6 million to complete the exercise compared the $1 million allocated in the budget,” said Mwonzora.
The select committee still owes outreach members and hotels about US$5,9 million.

Following the completion of the outreach exercise in October, Copac is supposed to upload the information, convene thematic committee meetings before a drafting committee is appointed to begin the actual work of writing the constitution.

A second all-stakeholders’ conference will then be held where the draft will be discussed further before it is presented to Parliament for debate before it is taken for a referendum where Zimbabweans can adopt or reject it.

Organisational and logistical problems have dogged the constitution-making process resulting in delays in crafting the new supreme law of the country.

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