The Herald (Harare)

19 December 2012

Zimbabwe: We'll Hold Elections Next Year - Mutambara

Zimbabwe will hold general elections next year with or without the new constitution and the so-called political reforms, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has said. DPM Mutambara told the US ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Bruce Wharton at his Munhumutapa Offices yesterday that there was no guarantee that the next general elections would be held under a new constitution.

He said Zimbabwe does not have a constitutional crisis that warranted the crafting of a new constitution.

"Zimbabwe has a Constitution. We do have a current Constitution and that constitution is going to determine when we have elections.

"This Parliament and Cabinet does expire on June 28 2013. Sadc must encourage Zimbabweans to adopt a new constitution and reforms before June 28. There is no guarantee that elections in Zimbabwe will be held under a new constitution," he said.

He said it required political will among Zimbabweans to conclude the constitution-making process before the expiry of the current Cabinet and Parliament.

In the absence of such political will, DPM Mutambara said the country would go to polls on the basis of the current constitution.

"In the absence of that co-operation, there will be elections with or without the new constitution. There will be elections with or without reforms," he said.

DPM Mutambara said Harare and Washington should work towards a graduation from political diplomacy to a much more commercial relationship.

He said such a relationship should be beneficial to both sides.

"We should build a relationship which is beneficial to Zimbabwe and the United States. A relationship that is sustainable," said DPM Mutambara.

He also briefed the US ambassador on the developments at Save Valley Conservancy where the Cabinet had set an inter-ministerial committee to transform the conservancy into a profitable investment that would benefit local people.

"We must be able to conserve wildlife and at the same time we want equity where we empower our local people. We want to come up with a model that we will replicate throughout the country," said DPM Mutambara.

Ambassador Wharton said he wanted to work with all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to improve relations between Harare and Washington.

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