Zimbabwe leaders to meet over new constitution

HARARE – Zimbabwe's political leaders are to meet on Monday to try to resolve deep differences that threaten to collapse a unity government, with differences arising over the country's first post-independence constitution.

Differences have emerged over what process to take on the writing of a new constitution under a power sharing deal signed between President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party is demanding that a 2007 Kariba Draft constitution – that leaves wide ranging sweeping powers of one of Africa’s oldest rulers intact – should be used as a reference point in the constitution making process.

However, civic organisations and the MDC parties led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara are demanding a people-driven constitution making process.

Douglas Mwonzora, co-chairperson of a Parliamentary Select Committee that is steering the constitution-making process, said: "We are not going to impose a draft on the people of Zimbabwe."

Mwonzora is an MDC legislator.

"The three principals are going to meet on Monday in Harare to try and resolve issues relating to the use of the Kariba Draft as a reference point. It’s something which has been quite contentious for some time," he added.

The Kariba Draft document was produced during power sharing talks in 2007 between the MDCs and Zanu-PF prior to the formation of a unity government in February this year.

The two MDCs have since disowned it, saying it can not be used as a reference point as it is in violation of a power-sharing agreement signed in 2008 that calls for a people-driven process.

A Zanu-PF legislator, Saviour Kasukuwere, who is also a Youth Minister added: "All the three parties (Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations) appended their signatures on the Kariba Draft. Anyway on Monday, the principals will meet and discuss the Kariba document."

A conference held last month on the new constitution was disrupted by Mr Mugabe’s supporters protesting attempts by a parliamentary committee steering the constitution process to disregard a Kariba Draft document favoured by the liberation movement.

Under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed by Zimbabwe’s three main political parties last year, the country should have a new and democratic constitution by mid next year.

New elections for president, parliament and local government will be held after the new constitution is promulgated.