PM calls for unity of purpose as constitution-drafting process stalls

Tsvangirai castigated attempts by some “political operatives” to advance partisan agendas but said a committee tasked to draw up the new constitution had instituted enough checks and balances to ensure a smooth process.

“This is a national project which is about defining the destiny of the country, about defining the values of our Government. It is not about ZANU PF, it’s not about MDC,” Tsvangirai said.

Zimbabwe’s constitution-making process has been rocked by differences on procedures between Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and ZANU PF led by President Robert Mugabe.

A major difference between the political parties has until now been on whether to adopt as the basis of the new constitution a draft document secretly drawn up by their officials in 2007 during South African-brokered negotiations held in the resort town of Kariba to end Zimbabwe’s crisis.

ZANU PF has been pushing for the so-called Kariba Draft to be adopted as the country’s new constitution while the MDC wanted a “people-driven” process.

These squabbles have delayed the constitution-making process which was expected to be completed by July 2010.

The proposed new constitution is part of the requirements of a September 2008 power-sharing deal between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara that gave birth to the Harare coalition government last February.

Once a new constitution is in place, the power-sharing government is expected to call fresh parliamentary, presidential and local government elections although there is no specific date when the unity government should call for new elections.