The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: President to Meet Chiefs

President Mugabe will soon meet representatives of chiefs council to discuss their concerns over some clauses on land in the draft Constitution. Although they could not specify which clauses they were concerned about, the chiefs said these would be disclosed at the meeting with the President.

The referendum has been set for March 16 this year. The traditional leaders expressed their reservations towards the clauses during the just-ended Annual Chiefs' conference held in Masvingo.

The chiefs have, however, expressed commitment to drum up for a "Yes" vote during the referendum.

President Mugabe pledged to meet the chiefs when he officially opened the conference last Friday.

"We should all support the new constitution as we go for the referendum and the draft constitution was a compromise document which can be amended by a party that would have won the elections," implored President Mugabe at the meeting.

"We are happy that our chiefs have also pledged their support for a "Yes" vote on the new constitution though they have some reservations on some issues and I will soon be meeting their representatives very soon so that we can resolve the issues," he said.

Chiefs Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira yesterday confirmed the scheduled meeting although he could not disclose the exact clauses they are not comfortable with in the draft constitution.

"We will meet President Mugabe very soon over some clauses on land in the draft constitution that we are not happy with and we are happy that President Mugabe has agreed to meet us very soon. I cannot disclose the clauses that we are not happy with at the moment, we want to meet the President first,"he said.

Chief Charumbira said save for those few clauses the chiefs were fully behind the draft constitution.

"We are happy with the draft Constitution and we have already said that we will campaign for a "Yes" vote ahead of the referendum but we only have some few clauses on land that we are not happy with which we feel can be sorted ahead of the referendum," said Chief Charumbira.

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