Constitution: not a word written yet
President Robert Mugabe’s plans to call for elections early next year is
likely to hit another snag amid revelations that “not a word” of the new
constitution has so far been written due to bickering and administrative
by Vusimusi Bhebhe
Mugabe has indicated that Zimbabwe’s next general elections would be held no
later than March 2012, insisting last month that a shaky 30-month coalition
government he forced with arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai was surviving “on
But, according to a South African-based thinktank, time is fast running out
for the GNU to squeeze all that needs to be done into the months available
before the constitutional guillotine drops in March 2013 – formally ending
Mugabe’s term in office.
The Southern Africa Report said it was increasingly unlikely That Zanu (PF)
and the two MDC formations would complete their constitution-making
programme and all other conditions imposed by the Global Political Agreement
to ensure conditions conducive to free and fair elections.
It noted that despite mounting Southern African Development Community
irritation about the lack of progress, there was little prospect that a
draft constitution would be ready for consideration by Parliament on
schedule in late November or early December.
“Sources close to the pre-drafting process insist ‘not a word’ of the
constitution has been drafted,” the thinktank said.
“This will make the possibility of an election before the last quarter of
2012 impractical – and even that will be tight.”
The sources said completion and submission of the new constitution in time
for a parliamentary vote was unlikely before the end of the year.
This will make the possibility of an election before the last quarter of
2012 impractical – and even that will be tight.
Parliament is currently considering a Human Rights Commission Bill and an
Electoral Amendment Bill – the latter crucial for cleaning up massive fraud
in Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll.
The clean-up exercise is expected to take more than six months – voter
registration and voter mobilisation for 30 days, voter registration for 60
days, preparation of the new roll 60 days, inspection of the roll 45 days,
and final clean-up 45 days.
The GPA and the current constitution both require popular endorsement of the
new constitution by referendum, a process requiring several months.
SADC leaders who met in Luanda last month chastised Zimbabwe’s leaders for
failing to show enough commitment to the country’s reform process.
Zimbabwe needs SADC’s full backing – particularly from South African
President Jacob Zuma, the facilitator of Zimbabwe’s dialogue process – to
persuade Western countries that the time has come to lift targeted travel
and trade sanctions on Zanu (PF) officials and hangers on.
Zanu (PF) continues to agitate for a general election as soon as possible,
despite Zuma and SADC’s insistence that the country is not ready for this
step along its “roadmap”.
Zuma’s report to the recent Luanda summit highlighted a number of
commitments that have not yet been met, including the creation of a level
political playing field and freedom for all political parties to campaign
without harassment and intimidation.