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Zimbabwe Prepares for Constitution Outreach Program

Members of Zimbabwe's constitutional outreach team has begun training in Harare before being deployed across the country to prepare for the writing of a new document.

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Zimbabwe took another step towards drafting a new constitution as hundreds who make up the outreach team gathered in Harare.  Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, one of the chairpersons of the parliamentary committee charged with delivering a new constitution explained what the three days of training entails.

"The main objective is to get them to appreciate the nature of the work they are about to embark on to find common ground and also to prepare a document which will be used to elicit the views of the people," Mangwana said.

Mangwana added that as agreed in the deal that brought about Zimbabwe's national unity government, the country's new constitution has to be based on consultation with the people.  A referendum will be held after the draft constitution is written.

The members of the outreach team will be split into committees that will look at specific areas.  The 600-member team is comprised of representatives of civil society groups.  Legislators will also be part of the process.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association Vice Chairman Joseph Chinotimba described to VOA how the process will be a non-partisan exercise.  He says he would like to see a truly Zimbabwean document, which is not influenced by any political party.

He says it would not work if the constitution is written by people doing it for the Movement for Democratic Change or for Zanu-PF because in 10 to 20 years time a new generation will come that will reject it.

Themba Dlodlo from Matabeleland province said he wants a constitution that decentralizes power.

"At the moment we have a system where one man runs the country with a few of his clansmen and a few of his party supporters, so it is a one-party one-man system," Dlodlo said.  "As far as people in Matabeleland, they feel that perhaps a better system of representation is proportional representation."

The ongoing exercise is the second attempt by Zimbabwe to adopt a new constitution.  In 2000 a draft constitution was rejected in a referendum.  The country's constitution has been in place since independence in 1980.  It was a result of the agreement reached between former colonial power Britain and the nationalist groups that were fighting for independence.

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