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Quest For a New Constitution in Zimbabwe Is Wrapped In Controversy

Zimbabwe this week launched the public participation phase of a process intended to lead to a new draft constitution in a little over a year as a parliamentary select committee held public hearings on the matter aiming to hold a referendum on the document by October 2010.

But the process has begun under a cloud of controversy with the National Constitutional Assembly arguing it should be driven by the people, not by members of parliament.

President Robert Mugabe's pronouncement this week that the so-called Kariba draft, which would significantly expand presidential power, should be the touchstone for the revision process, also stirred concern. The NCA and others oppose adoption of the Kariba document saying it was written in secret in 2007 by the parties now sharing power in government.

For perspective, reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Madock Chivasa, spokesman for the NCA, and Douglas Mwonzora, co-chairman of the parliamentary select committee, who insisted the process is inclusive and will not be manipulated.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...