Draft constitution ready… four years later
Harare – Zimbabwe’s four-year long – and often acrimonious – constitution-making process came to a head on March 16 with the holding of a referendum that was widely expected to give the nod to the draft supreme law.
The country’s main political parties embarked on the constitution-making drive in 2009 and they were supposed to have completed it in one-and-a-half years.
However, much bickering on what to include and what to leave out, and never-ending headaches related to funding the process, saw the drive stretch into 2013.
Nearly US$48 million was spent in coming up with the draft. The coalition government partners – ZANU-PF, MDC-T and MDC – spent the past two months campaigning for adoption of the draft constitution.
Whether or not the electorate adopts the constitution, Zimbabwe will proceed to hold a general election, most likely around July.
Zimbabwe has been using the Lancaster House Constitution, which is essentially a ceasefire agreement signed by liberation war combatants and colonial state fighters in 1979.
The SADC Electoral Observer Mission jetted into Zimbabwe ahead of the plebiscite, to join many other observer and monitor groups. The government accredited local and international missions drawn from international organisations, NGOs and diplomatic missions to observe the referendum.
Head of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission, Tanzania’s Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, was hopeful that the turnout would be good.
SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Tomaz Salamao, had also called on Zimbabweans to demonstrate high standards of maturity, saying: “We are simply observing the process. We encourage Zimbabweans to demonstrate political stability to achieve a peaceful and democratic referendum.”
International observers from the SADC Parliamentary Forum, led by the Speaker of the Swaziland National Assembly, Prince Guduza Dlamini, were deployed in Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces.
The team comprised MPs from Botswana, the DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia.
SADC PF Secretary-General Dr Esau Chiviya said their observation process was guided by the Norms and Standards for Elections in the SADC Region and the SADC Principles and Guidelines on Elections.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission slashed its referendum budget from US$85 million to US$58 million.