Zimbabwe draft constitution hits the financial wall

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With just eight days remaining before Zimbabwe embarks on yet another attempt to craft a home grown constitution, no funds have been availed for by Government, a senior official has revealed. Close to US$36 million is needed for the cumbersome process.

This was disclosed by two co-chairpersons for the Parliamentary select committee Douglas Mwonzora and Paul Mangwana in Harare.

Said Mangwana “We are still to get feed back from government on our budget proposal we submitted. On our part the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders approved the drafts but there has been no word from government”.

The constitution making process is divided into three phases. Resources such as cars, computers and posters would be needed for the process. The first stage covers the period between now and first stakeholders, another for the second stakeholders the third being that for the post-Stakeholders conferences.

An estimated 5000 delegates with each province contributing 500 will attend the first conference. The lack of funds would discredit the process as some remote areas in the country and of thousands of Zimbabweans living abroad would be left out.

Parliament on Monday approved the $36-million budget for the reform process but the broke government has no funds for the project. “The budget was approved by Parliament on Monday and donors have expressed interest in funding the project,” said an official who close to the reform process.

The Parliament elected in April 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 (MDC) to spearhead the process, which is expected to take 18 months.

The drawing-up of a new Constitution was one of the main conditions of the power-sharing agreement which Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed in February, ending months of political crisis following disputed elections.

Zimbabwe is currently governed under the 1979 constitution agreed at the Lancaster House talks in London. The constitution has been amended 19 times since the country’s Independence in 1980.

An attempt to introduce a new constitution between 1999 and 2000 failed after the NCA and other civil society organisations, backed by a nascent MDC, successfully campaigned against a government-sponsored draft.

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