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Zimbabwe crisis: Constitutional reform and elections delayed as women protest
Zimbabwe has suspended indefinitely the drafting of a constitution due to disagreements on the composition of outreach teams further deepening the country’s political crisis.
It was hoped that the new constitution would pave the way for fresh elections.
But Wednesday night the constitution making process was suspended as Zanu-PF and MDC failed to agree on the number of rapporteurs to accompany the outreach team but government. And officials say it was better to delay the process than rush to produce a "half-baked" product.
The constitution-making process has always been rocked by differences on procedures between Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and ZANU PF led by President Robert Mugabe.
Said Paul Mangwana, a co-chair of the constitution committee, "All constitutional programmes have been suspended by the management committee. They felt there were other issues which needed attention before the outreach programme begins.
"There are still disagreements on the composition of rapporteurs, but there are other more pressing issues, which have to be addressed like financial constraints” he said.
He added that recording equipment is yet to be bought, cars haven’t been mobilised and rapporteurs are yet to be trained. "Therefore, we cannot give a timetable of when the actual outreach will start because some of the issues are beyond our control as the Select Committee," Mangwana said.
The Global Political Agreement that gave birth to the inclusive government calls for a new constitution ahead of fresh elections with the process scheduled for completion in 18 months.
This means a constitutional referendum should ideally be held around June this year but this is now highly unlikely to happen.
In a new twist political commentators say Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is not ‘keen” in going to the polls soon. This is after he told South Africa President, Jacob Zuma that he cannot determine when elections should be held in Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai said the inclusive government will determine when the country can hold elections.
"President Zuma cannot push for elections in Zimbabwe," Tsvangirai said early this week.
Tsvangirai’s comments come after Zuma indicated that the MDC leader needed to show some flexibility in ongoing negotiations with Zanu PF over the so-called “outstanding issues”.
Meanwhile, in a related issue women who are the majority have vowed not to participate saying there is no gender balance in the managing of the constitution process.
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe chairperson, Emilia Muchawa, told the media Wednesday that her organization was going to hold an urgent women stakeholder meeting to consult the members’ opinion.
"Our participation in this process is important because we are the most beneficiaries, but however we are going to convene an urgent meeting…
"As a membership driven organization we need to meet and find a common ground, it is only after the meeting when we are going to reach a decision on whether we should participate or not” said Muchawa.
She denied that they are sabotaging the process “but crying for gender equality".