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Zimbabwe Parliament Receives Draft Constitution

Zimbabwean police officers clear pamphlets left after a demonstration protesting delays in the drafting of a new constitution outside the parliament in Harare, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.
In Zimbabwe, a draft of the country’s new constitution has been presented to parliament.

Some civic organizations have already said they'll campaign against the draft constitution in the expected April referendum.

Zimbabwe's main political parties, ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), plan to review the draft for about a month before the public has the final say in a constitutional referendum.

Jessie Majome, the spokeswoman for COPAC, a committee drafting the new constitution, says the debate in parliament will be academic since all the parties agreed to the draft.

In 2000, some civic organizations successfully defeated a proposed new constitution with a "Vote No" campaign. This time around, Majome thinks the situation will be different.

“The major, usual protagonists, the critics, would be the political parties," she says. "They are in support. They have come to, more or less, a consensus.”

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), which is composed of Zimbabwe's pro-democracy groups, teamed up with the opposition, then led by current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, to defeat the 2000 constitution.

On Tuesday, NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the assembly will campaign against this proposed constitution as well.

He said the current constitutional process has not taken the views of average Zimbabweans into account.

“It is not a democratic and people-driven constitution, but [it is] good for themselves," Madhuku said. "If you peruse it, you will see that every sentence speaks [of] which politician benefits from it.”

He added that the draft fails to sufficiently reduce presidential powers.

The acceptance of Zimbabwe's draft constitution is critical for African leaders who want it passed ahead of an election to end the country’s coalition government.

Regional leaders forced President Robert Mugabe to form a coalition with Tsvangirai following the disputed and violent 2008 elections. Mugabe has said he wants the coalition government to come to an end.

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