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SA to fund Zim constitution?

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South Africa has hinted it could assist Zimbabwe conduct the country’s constitutional referendum when it is due.

But Zimbabwean authorities yesterday said although they would accept the offer, there had been no official communication so far.

The offer was mooted by South Africa’s Parliamentary Committee on International Relations during a Parliament briefing by Director General of International Relations and Cooperation Jerry Matjila on Wednesday, saying the “whole interest (is) to see a stable Zimbabwe”.

Work on Zimbabwe’s new governance charter is already running a year behind schedule.

Drafters had targeted September for a referendum, but constant stoppages and lack of funds might see the date missed.

Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) co-chairperson Paul Mangwana on Thursday told NewsDay the committee would gladly accept assistance from a “friendly neighbour such as South Africa” but they were not mandated to directly seek assistance from foreign countries.

“As Copac we do not engage with foreign countries on constitutional matters, but we would gladly welcome such assistance from a friendly neighbour such as South Africa if it’s aimed at seeing the country successfully conclude the process,” said Mangwana.

“The Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs is the one mandated by the Executive to fundraise on behalf of Copac, but assistance of any kind is gladly welcomed considering our financial position,” added Mangwana.

Contacted for comment, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Eric Matinenga, on Thursday said he was not aware of such an offer.

“It could be that the negotiators might have sounded the issues to the South African government at one point, but from the ministry point of view we are not aware of this,” said Matinenga.

Zimbabwe is scheduled to have a constitutional referendum to be followed by elections according to the Global Political Agreement signed over two years ago.

However, according to South Africa’s Department of International Relations, though Zimbabwe remained a sovereign country, their desire was for a return to stability.

“They (Zimbabwe) are one of the four major export destinations. Every year we see the volume of goods and services increasing towards Zimbabwe. So it is in our whole interest to see a stable Zimbabwe. As you can see, in 2008 we exported over R7 billion. In 2009, R11 billion, last year we almost exported something like $20 billion of goods and services to Zimbabwe” said Matjila.

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