Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Briefed on Constitution Process

Zimbabwe's House of Assembly and Senate on Monday held an extraordinary parliamentary caucus in which lawmakers were briefed on the constitutional revision process and the roles of lawmakers in an outreach process that is beginning this week and is slated for completion in 65 days.\r\n

The Finance Ministry has funded the outreach program to the tune of US$43 million, with funds also coming from the Constitutional Affairs Ministry.
    
Sources said the three parties agreed not to adopt the controversial Kariba draft which the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe had been pushing, or any other draft, as the basis of the new constitution.

Chief Parliamentary Whip Innocent Gonese of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai lawmakers were informed about a Tuesday orientation workshop.

ZANU-PF Chief Whip Jorum Gumbo said the purpose of Monday’s meeting was to seek lawmakers’ support for constitutional outreach teams.

Meanwhile the three power-sharing parties are gearing up for a new round of negotiations over so-called outstanding issues troubling their government while a senior official of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has warned of the risk of a “a sharp escalation” in disputes over implementation of the 2008 unity agreement.

Sources said that negotiations will resume January 16 or 17, focusing on the vexed question of whether Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana should be replaced as the Tsvangirai formation of the MDC has demanded. President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have adamantly refused to consider this.

Policy Coordinator Eddie Cross of the Tsvangirai MDC told reporters in South Africa on Sunday that the inclusive government risked unraveling with “a sharp escalation” of tensions if all outstanding issues are not resolved.

"The political, social and economic crisis is re-emerging in Zimbabwe," Cross was quoted as saying by the Sunday Times of South Africa. "We will slide into a condition very quickly in the new year, where the new government will become totally dysfunctional." The Tsvangirai formation disengaged from its ZANU-PF partner in October-November over the re-arrest of party Treasurer Roy Bennett, currently on trial for alleged terrorist activities.

But Deputy Spokesman Renson Gasela of the MDC formation led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara says the national unity government should be preserved, saying his party also wants closure on all outstanding issues.

"The people of Zimbabwe have seen the benefits of the unity government and therefore want to see the arrangement preserved. There has to be agreement on the outstanding issues," Gasela told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo.

Formed in February 2009 after a unity accord signed between long-ruling ZANU-PF and the two formations of the MDC, the inclusive government has been troubled by fundamental disagreements over how to share power.

Some observers say ZANU-PF hardliners resisting full implementation of the Global Political Agreement fearing this will lead to further erosion of the liberation party’s grip on power three decades after independence.

Deputy Spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo of the Tsvangirai MDC formation said her party expects all unresolved issues to be settled when negotiations resume in the middle of January – a deadline which has continually slipped.