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Mugabe says Views of Zimbabweans to be Considered in Constitution-Making Process

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Opening the first session of parliament since the Zimbabwe unity government came into being earlier this year, President Robert Mugabe said the process of writing a new constitution is on track. Mr. Mugabe promised the views of all Zimbabweans would be sought and considered during the process. .

During his address, President Robert Mugabe said, in line with the agreement that brought about the unity government, work is in progress towards a new constitution for Zimbabwe. He said agreement had been reached between the parties to the government on the establishment of various committees to work towards the drafting of the new constitution.

"Thematic sub-committees will extensively garner the views of all our people for consideration in the drafting of the new constitution," said the Zimbabwean president.

The drafting of a new constitution that will lead to new elections has been one of the sticking points for the new government.

Mr. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party insist that the constitution must be based on the so-called Kariba agreement draft, which was agreed on during negotiations leading to the unity government. His senior partner in the national unity government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change and other civic groups, are calling for a fresh consultative process without any reference to the Kariba document.

Mr. Mugabe also said establishment of a Zimbabwe Media Commission, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Human Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission is imminent.

The president also re-iterated Finance Minister Tendai Biti's announcement the government had established a $210-million facility for agricultural inputs to boost food security.

Mr. Mugabe said amendments to the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill should be finalized during the current session of parliament.

"The proposed amendments seek to broaden the ownership rights in the mining sector in line with the indigenization and economic empowerment policy, promote foreign direct investment, enforce the use it or lose it principle so as to decisively deal with speculative holding of claims," he said.

He added the proposed amendments seek to "strengthen the relationship between government and mining houses." An earlier draft of the mining law sought to give locals at least 51 percent of foreign-owned mining operations. But during a mining conference last month, Mr. Mugabe said the government would soon pass a law to address the concerns of potential investors who consider the percentage of local ownership too high.