Zimbabwe Begins Work On New Constitution

"We count on our inner strength as a people and on our unflinching determination to turn a new page in our lives as Zimbabweans despite many obstacles," parliament speaker Lovemore Moyo told foreign diplomats.

Speaking ahead of the first public meeting on the constitution later in the day, Moyo urged the diplomatic community to support the process.

"The constitution-making process is taking place in an environment of acute resource constraints," Moyo said. "We call upon you, your excellencies, to lend your support to this process. We are happy with the progress made so far despite limited resources."

In April, parliament elected a 25-member committee drawn from members of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change to spearhead the process.

Under the accord that created the unity government four months ago, a new constitution should be tabled in parliament by February, with a referendum on the charter held by July.

Moyo also assured the diplomats that the constitution-building process will be transparent, and not manipulated by politicians.

"As parliament we want to make sure that this process is as open, transparent, democratic and as inclusive as possible in order to accommodate the views of all Zimbabweans."

The unity deal aims to end political unrest that erupted after disputed elections last year, forcing Mugabe – Zimbabwe’s only ruler since independence in 1980 – into a power-sharing deal with his rival Tsvangirai.