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Stage set for referendum

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President Robert Mugabe yesterday officially set aside March 16 for the referendum on the new constitution brushing aside opposition from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA).

REPORT BY MOSES MATENGA

The referendum will pave the way for fresh elections to end the inclusive government.

Mugabe made the proclamation in a Government Gazzette, days after Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga made the announcement.

“I consider it desirable to ascertain the view of voters on whether or not the said draft constitution should be enacted at the constitution of Zimbabwe,” the veteran ruler said in the notice.

“Now, therefore….I do, by this proclamation, appoint Saturday the 16th as the day on which the referendum will be held.”

The proposed supreme law would curb presidential powers and cut the wings of service chiefs among other progressive provisions.

But some groups are not happy with the time being given ordinary people to study the draft before voting.

NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku yesterday said he had instructed his lawyers to take Mugabe to court over the referendum date.

“Our lawyers will certainly do that Monday morning,” he said. “The lawyers are running around to oppose that (referendum date) as we had said.”

Madhuku said they had been waiting for the date to be gazette before challenging it in court.

“That is what we have been waiting for and our lawyers are now running around to make sure they file the papers Monday morning,” he said.

Parties in the inclusive are campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote during the referendum making Madhuku’s campaign tough.

The constitution making process that started in 2009 was marked by bickering by the coalition parties and at some stage there was suspicion that Zanu PF was bent on sabotaging the exercise.

But Mugabe reportedly prevailed against Zanu PF hardliners putting the process back on track.

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