Zimbabwe to hold referendum in September 2011

The committee drafting Zimbabwe’s new constitution says it expects a referendum on the draft in September next year, casting doubts on the prospects of an early election.

Robert Mugabe has been calling for an election soon after the February 2011 second anniversary of the unity government, which he formed with his arch rival and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The 86 year-old leader says he is not happy in the inclusive government and was last week endorsed by his Zanu PF party to run for another term next year.

But on Wednesday President Mugabe appeared to be climbing down from his hardline position when he told Zanu PF supporters that the polls will only be held after referendum.

Mugabe has said elections are expected some time next year — would only be held once the constitutional referendum has been concluded.

Drafting a new charter for the country was one of the major reforms agreed by the coalition partners but the exercise has been delayed by squabbles between the political parties and the lack of funding.

And, frustrated by the delays Mugabe, had previously stated that the country would hold elections whether or not the exercise was concluded.

However, addressing thousands of supporters in Gutu where he was visiting his uncle Kasirai Masanganise who is Chief Gutu and brother to his late mother Bona Mugabe, the President said the referendum would be come first.

“There is going to be a draft constitution which will be put to a referendum; after that we will then have general elections,” Mugabe said, speaking in Shona.

Mugabe insisted that his party’s views should make up most of the final draft claiming Zanu PF had dominated the outreach programme which was aimed at gathering public contributions.

“We must make sure that when the draft constitution is put together Zanu PF’s views are dominant because the party dominated the outreach programme,” he said.

The Zanu PF leader said new elections were needed to replace the coalition government which he said was only a temporary measure and again slated his rivals in the coalition government.

"Even in Government they have no policy as compared to us in Zanu-PF who came up with policies in education, health and even indigenisation of the economy which is now expanding to cover mines and factories," Mugabe said.