analysisBy Richard Lee
Three years and seemingly endless politicking and US$40 million later, Zimbabwe's draft constitution is finally ready.
The final version has been approved by the principals to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) - from ZANU-PF and the two MDC factions - as well as by the co-chairs of the country's Constitution Select Committee (COPAC), which led the process and was mandated to 'ensure a people-driven constitution'.
The draft will now be presented to parliament - possibly as early as the 31st January but probably on the 5th of February. It is highly unlikely that parliament will change this draft given that the leaders of the three main political parties have given it their stamp of approval.
After parliament has had its say, the people will be given their chance to vote on the draft in a referendum. The GPA states that there should three months between publication of the final draft and a referendum but it is possible that the members of the Inclusive Government could agree to shorten this time period - so there is a possibility that Zimbabweans will be voting on their new supreme law as early as the end of March or beginning of April.
Given that all the parties have signed up to the draft, it is likely that they will campaign for a 'yes' vote and that the people will approve the draft in the referendum. It will then need to be brought back to parliament for formal adoption and subsequently taken to the president for his assent.
And then the electoral campaign can begin in earnest with indications that presidential and parliamentary elections - the first since the violent, fraudulent elections of 2008 - will be conducted at some point between June and September.