Zimbabwe MPs open debate on new constitution
Posted Wednesday, February 6 2013 at 15:42
Zimbabwe’s parliament has started debating a new constitution that will reduce the powers of the president and lead to fresh elections sometime in June.
A cross party parliamentary committee that led the four year-long process submitted the draft to the House of Assembly on Tuesday.
Parliamentary approval is guaranteed because the proposed constitution has already been negotiated by the country’s three governing parties.
The document will then be put to a referendum by sometime next month.
“The draft is a product of the same people (MPs) themselves,” said Ms Jessie Majome, the spokesperson of the parliamentary committee.
“It is unlikely that they will disown what they actually said.
“Of course some views were divergent, but it is an averaging down of all the views that came down.”
President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai reached a number of compromises to allow the draft to pass.
Their political parties are the most dominant in the country, which will ensure support for the new constitution at the referendum.
But a pro-democracy group that has been pushing for a new constitution for the past decade has launched a campaign to reject the proposed supreme law arguing it was not people driven.
“We urge all patriotic Zimbabweans to reject the document that only caters for the interests of three political parties,” said National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader Dr Lovemore Madhuku.
"Zimbabweans should go for elections under the current document and sort the rest afterwards.
“We have no funding for big rallies so we are meeting people in small groups."
NCA played a crucial role in the formation of Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in 1999.
The following year it spearheaded a successful campaign against a draft constitution that was criticised for failing to impose presidential term limits.