New Zimbabwe constitution put to parliament
HARARE — Zimbabwe’s draft constitution was sent to parliament Tuesday, where it is expected to be approved after it was overwhelmingly endorsed by citizens in a March referendum.
“This bill, Mr Speaker, will provide for the replacement of the constitution of Zimbabwe that came into operation on the 18th of April, 1980,” Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga told parliamentarians in the capital Harare.
The charter will be debated next week in the lower house and senate. It is expected to pass the parliament’s two thirds majority threshold and then be signed in to law by President Robert Mugabe.
The text would take away presidential immunity after leaving office, bolster the power of the courts, and set up a peace and reconciliation commission tasked with post-conflict justice and healing.
It also limits a president’s tenure to two five-year terms, curtails presidential powers and abolishes the post of prime minister.
President Mugabe has ruled uninterrupted since the country’s independence in 1980, despite a series of disputed and violent polls and a severe economic crash propelled by hyper-inflation.
A new constitution is one of the key reforms agreed to under the pact which gave birth to the unity government between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in 2009 following a bloody presidential run-off election in 2008.
Both leaders backed the draft charter during the referendum but they are still haggling over the date of the next elections. Tsvangirai is also insisting on reforms in the media, electoral and security sectors to ensure and free and credible polls, which Mugabe is opposed to. AFP