27 June 2012

Zimbabwe: New Constitution a Few Days Away

Photo: Umsoto/Flickr/IRIN
President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the government of national unity.

The final revision of the draft constitution has been completed and a new charter for Zimbabwe will be officially launched on Wednesday next week, a highly placed source told SW Radio Africa.

The latest version of the new charter, promising reform and transparency, was finished in Harare on Wednesday by COPAC's management committee. The source told us the document is now in the proof reading stage and will be unveiled to the public next week.

According to the source, the management committee that consists of the same negotiators to the GPA has all but agreed on the contentious issues that had been stalling progress, including devolution, executive structure and dual citizenship.

Despite strong objections from ZANU PF, the parties agreed that members of the armed forces will be forbidden from taking part in active politics, including campaigning for any particular political party.

'All the contentious issues have been dealt with after the parties came up with suggestions that were acceptable to all. To show you how far things have moved, the negotiators are now dealing with transitional mechanisms, especially on how they will move from the current constitution to the next.

'In this regard, the posts of President and Prime Minister will remain in force until after the next elections when a new leader is inaugurated. This is meant not to create a power vacuum,' the source added.

The new charter will have an executive president answerable to Parliament and checked by a strengthened Judiciary. After nearly two weeks of negotiations over the contentious issues in a draft prepared by the parliamentary select committee, the negotiators also unanimously agreed to abolish the position of Prime Minister.

The new constitution is designed to redistribute political power away from the capital, Harare, to eight provincial councils created under devolution.

Under the new system, the national government will provide a given percentage of budgets to the provincial legislature, which will comprise elected parliamentarians, senators and local council officials.

This Electoral College will recommend a governor whose appointment will be done by the President.

In the current constitution power is concentrated in the executive branch of government, which has seen Robert Mugabe unilaterally appoint high officials, including judges and governor of the Reserve Bank. But in the new system, parliamentarians will get involved in making appointments.

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