Zimbabwe: Constitutional referendum set for March 16, 2013

February 18, 2013

International

Zimbabwe President Mugabe proclaims date for constitutional referendum

Robert Mugabe (R) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai

Xinhua

HARARE- President Robert Mugabe on Friday, February 15, 2013 claimed March 16 as the date Zimbabweans will go to a referendum to indicate whether or not they accept a draft constitution.

In a proclamation published in the Government Gazette and accompanying a copy of the draft constitution, Mugabe said polling will start at 7:00 a.m. local time and end at 7: p.m..

Indications are that the majority of Zimbabweans will vote in favor of the draft since all the major parties are urging their supporters to accept it.

The three political parties represented in the legislature — Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s larger MDC and the smaller MDC whose leadership is under dispute between Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube — have endorsed the draft.

If it passes the referendum, the draft will replace the current constitution which was crafted in London ahead of the country’s independence from Britain in 1980.

Ordinary Zimbabweans have welcomed the generally calm environment within the country as the major parties are pulling in the same direction and there is limited hate talk against each other.

This is in contrast to the 2000 constitutional referendum where Mugabe’s party campaigned for a “yes” vote while Tsvangirai’s then united MDC and the NCA led the majority of the people to reject it.

According to the power-sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed by the now governing parties in 2008 following inconclusive elections the same year, fresh elections must be held after the country makes a new constitution.

The then South African president, Thabo Mbeki, led a Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative to bring lasting peace to the country which was also grappling with an economic meltdown and an official 231 million percent inflation rate, the highest in the world, and threatening to destabilize the region.

Opposition parties have previously condemned the current constitution which has since been amended 19 times, saying that it gave Mugabe and his party an unfair advantage over them.

Mugabe has since 2011 tried to push for elections outside the constitutional process but the SADC and his political rivals at home have rejected the attempts.

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (R) greets Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (R) greets Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at the funeral of Vice-President John Nkomo at National Heroes Acre in Harare January 21, 2013

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18 February 2013

President Mugabe to meet with Chiefs Council
Discussion on concerns over some clauses on land in the draft Constitution

George Maponga
The Herald (Zimbabwe)

MASVINGO- President Mugabe will soon meet representatives of chiefs council to discuss their concerns over some clauses on land in the draft Constitution. Although they could not specify which clauses they were

concerned about, the chiefs said these would be disclosed at the meeting with the President.
The referendum has been set for March 16 this year. The traditional leaders expressed their reservations towards the clauses during the just-ended Annual Chiefs’ conference held in Masvingo.

The chiefs have, however, expressed commitment to drum up for a “Yes” vote during the referendum.
President Mugabe pledged to meet the chiefs when he officially opened the conference last Friday.

“We should all support the new constitution as we go for the referendum and the draft constitution was a compromise document which can be amended by a party that would have won the elections,” implored President Mugabe at the meeting.

“We are happy that our chiefs have also pledged their support for a “Yes” vote on the new constitution though they have some reservations on some issues and I will soon be meeting their representatives very soon so that we can resolve the issues,” he said.

Chiefs Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira yesterday confirmed the scheduled meeting although he could not disclose the exact clauses they are not comfortable with in the draft constitution.

“We will meet President Mugabe very soon over some clauses on land in the draft constitution that we are not happy with and we are happy that President Mugabe has agreed to meet us very soon. I cannot disclose the clauses that we are not happy with at the moment, we want to meet the President first,’’he said.

Chief Charumbira said save for those few clauses the chiefs were fully behind the draft constitution.
“We are happy with the draft Constitution and we have already said that we will campaign for a “Yes” vote ahead of the referendum but we only have some few clauses on land that we are not happy with which we feel can be sorted ahead of the referendum,’’ said Chief Charumbira.

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Video: Zimbabwe to vote on new constitution-  election chief resigns

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