Principals finally agree

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have finally agreed on a draft constitution, setting the stage for a referendum and ultimately a watershed election to be held later this year.

Principals in the rocky coalition government, who include deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube, yesterday met at the State House to announce the latest developments.

The four had spent the better part of yesterday discussing the Copac revised constitution, which has been dragging on for the past four years as bickering political parties failed to reach an agreement.

“We as the principals for government and political parties have been meeting with Copac and the management committee in order for the constitution exercise to come to a conclusion. We are glad to say we have come to the conclusion of the exercise and all parties are agreed,” said Mugabe.

Mugabe said the next step would be for government to proclaim a date for a referendum as part of the roadmap to credible polls following the disputed and violent 2008 presidential election runoff.

The agreement means Mugabe and his Zanu PF party are now going for the “yes vote” after reaching a compromise with Tsvangirai and Ncube.

Both Tsvangirai and Ncube had indicated they would campaign for the adoption of the draft.

 “We have reached a defining moment for the country. People’s patience has been tested. This conclusion is key in the journey that we have travelled. A constitution is a social contract and not about individuals,” said Tsvangirai.

Mugabe’s Zanu PF and Tsvangirai’s MDC had differences over the contents of the draft constitution, especially the retention of sweeping presidential powers, the setting up of national prosecuting authority, a running mate clause, devolution and the setting up of a land commission but yesterday the principals agreed that a compromise had managed to unlock the impasse.

“We are here with a solution because of the political will. We have come up with a solution because of a compromise and also national interests,” said Mutambara.

Ncube, who leads a breakaway MDC formation, said all sticking points in the constitution have been ironed out.

“The meeting that took place ended up with consensus with all issues that were outstanding having been ironed out. What is left is to incorporate the changes to the Copac draft constitution,” said Ncube.

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