New Constitution likely in 2 years - Mugabe

Friday, February 27, 2009

Harare - Zimbabwe is likely to have a new Constitution within the next 18 to 24 months after which voters will head back to the polls for fresh elections, President Robert Mugabe has announced.

In his traditional birthday interview at Zimbabwe House in Harare this week, the President said the new inclusive government bringing together his Zanu-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was not a permanent arrangement.

He said in addition to working on economic recovery, the unity government would put forward a draft constitution in preparation for the elections.

President Mugabe pointed out that the parties would most likely work with a draft document that had already been agreed upon, which would be subjected to a referendum before any parliamentary procedures could be initiated to give it legal effect.

"We are an interim arrangement, we are not a permanent inclusive government. Ahead of us is a whole constitutional process which requires that we address the issue of the Constitution," he said.

President Mugabe said there was already a draft which the three parties agreed on. "They call it the Kariba Draft because that is where they came up with the document. We shall all look at it and when we are all satisfied, it shall be put to the people in a referendum."

He said that if the public agreed the draft would be passed through Parliament.

"The timeframe that was agreed on by the parties, was that within 18 to 24 months we should have a referendum. We will then have an election thereafter, perhaps in about two years' time," said President Mugabe.

The 85-year-old, who celebrated his birthday last weekend, has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 when the Zanu-PF took control of the country from the British colonial administration.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangiari last week requested financial assistance from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to jump-start recovery of its battered economy. SADC finance ministers are currently meeting in Cape Town to discuss the country's financial situation.