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  • Zimbabwe constitution committee goes on strike
    Agence France-Presse
    September 06, 2009

    Zimbabwe's parliamentary committee tasked with drafting a new constitution, meant to pave the way to fresh elections, has gone on strike after government failed to pay their allowances, reports said Sunday.

    The strike by the 25-member committee has halted work on the charter, which must be redrawn under the terms of the power-sharing agreement that created the unity government in February.

    "The select committee does not even have a dollar and this is affecting our functions," Paul Mangwana, the committee's co-chairman, told the state-run Sunday Mail.

    "We have said unless government gives us the resources it would be pointless to plan. We are just wasting the time of members, some of whom have to travel to Harare (for meetings)."

    He said members last received their allowances in April and were using personal resources to support the constitution drafting process.

    The UN Development Programme has provided two million US dollars to the committee, but Mangwana indicated more money was needed and said nothing had come from the government.

    "We expect government to provide the funds. Donors cannot largely provide the funds because this would make the process donor-driven," he said.

    In April, the speaker of parliament announced a 25-member committee drawn from both President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.

    Under the power-sharing deal, the committee should table a draft constitution by February 2010, with a referendum to approve it in July.

    The draft would have to be introduced to parliament by October next year. The new charter would establish the rules for holding new elections, after last year's polls degenerated into violent attacks targetting mainly MDC supporters.

    Zimbabwe held a constitutional referendum in 2000 but the proposal was rejected as critics said the published draft gave Mugabe too many powers.

    That led to a wave of farm invasions in which commercial farmers were pushed off the land, accused by Mugabe supporters of having lobbied against the proposal.

    Representatives from rights groups, churches, the media, women's groups, labour and the farming community will help the committee's members draft the new constitution.

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