Principals to set date for referendum

HARARE - ZIMBABWEANS are likely to vote on the new draft constitution at the end of February or early March if Principals to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) agree at a make-or-break meeting set for today.

President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube are set to receive a report from a Cabinet committee of seven structured out of a parliamentary select committee commonly referred to as Copac.

Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga said they had made “progress”.

“I can tell you we had a good meeting and we have made real progress. The report is being prepared and we will meet again at 7pm to okay the report which should be ready for the Principals meeting tomorrow,” Matinenga told the Daily News yesterday.

Asked whether a date for the referendum is likely to be announced, Matinenga was non-committal.

“I have no brief to talk about that but I can tell you we have had fruitful discussions. I cannot say anything beyond that.”

However, a highly placed insider insisted a date will be set.

“Although there is no tentative date we are likely to have the referendum around four weeks from now, which is highly likely given that only one issue remained. I do not see that standing in the way. The meeting on Thursday will rubberstamp whatever the special committee has decided,” a highly placed insider told the Daily News yesterday.

The senior government official also confirmed a date for the referendum is likely to be set today.

“There have been a lot of misinformation around the draft charter but I can tell you without a doubt that a report will be presented tomorrow,” he said. “There are bigger issues than the issue of running mates.

The country does not revolve around running mates and of course a date should be set. Talk to minister Eric Matinenga.”

Mugabe abruptly cut short his annual holiday in the Far East to push for a conclusion of the constitution making process, convening a meeting with Tsvangirai on Monday and at the same time setting another indaba for today.

Copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora said only the issue of running mates remained outstanding among the issues that have been hobbling the constitution making process.

“These issues have been made clearer and they will be in the new constitution. We should by tomorrow (today) have agreed on the running mates issue before presenting a report to the principals on Thursday,” Mwonzora told the Daily News on Tuesday.

Reports also indicate that regional power broker Sadc’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security last week is also growing impatient with the constant bickering in Zimbabwe and want a speedy resolution to the constitution making exercise expected to pave way for “peaceful, credible, free and fair elections.”

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