ZIMBABWE’S draft constitution is only expected to be ready for a referendum by September and not in June as originally scheduled, the Constitutional Affairs minister said Thursday.
The new constitution is meant to clear the way for fresh elections following the country's bloody 2008 polls, but the drafting process is running months behind after public outreach meetings were repeatedly postponed over outbreaks of violence.
"I do not see us going to referendum earlier than September this year," Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga said.Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, chairman of the Parliamentary Constitutional Committee (COPAC), said they had completed a process of uploading data collated during the outreach programme.
The data, from some 4,856 meetings held countrywide, has been stored on a computer database called Codaca V1.“The Codaca database contains records of all the meetings conducted during the outreach phase of the constitution making process. This data is backed up on laptops and on audio and video recorders.
“All the data compiled by Copac has been stored in very secure locations to ensure that it is not tampered with in any way.”The next step, he said, was for thematic committees to sit, analyse the data and write reports. That work should be complete by the end of March, he added.
Mangwana said drafters would start their work after the compilation of the thematic reports in early April.“These drafters will be recruited on the basis of their expertise and knowledge of constitutional issues. They will package the data to form the draft constitution for Zimbabwe. This process should take about one month to complete.”
Mangwana said the draft would then be presented to a second all stakeholders’ conference for discussion.
He insists meeting the September deadline would depend on the availability of resources.“We have lost one month but we still think it is possible for September because when we came up with the date we had already incorporated possible delays,” he said.
Veteran President Robert Mugabe has said Zimbabwe should push ahead with elections even if the parties to the country's shaky power-sharing government fail to agree on a new constitution.
But his rivals, including the visionary and firebrand Minister of Industry and Commerce President Welshman Ncube and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, insist that elections in 2011 are unlikely to result in a credible outcome.