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Zimbabwe Suspends Constitutional Programmes

By Daily Graphic

Zimbabwe has suspended its public outreach efforts to gather views on a new constitution, throwing another obstacle on the path toward fresh elections, state media have said.

Funding problems caused the latest hitch in the process, which began in July but has been repeatedly delayed, said the state-run Herald newspaper.

'All constitutional programmes have been suspended by the management committee,' Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, a chairman of the committee, said in the Herald.

Teams of rapporteurs were meant to travel around the country to collect opinions on the charter.

'There are still disagreements on the composition of the rapporteurs, but there are other more pressing issues which have to be addressed like financial constraints,' Mangwana said.

'Recording equipment is yet to be bought, cars haven't been mobilised and rapporteurs are yet to be trained.

'Therefore, we cannot give a timetable of when the actual outreach will start because some of the issues are beyond our control as the select committee.'

Mangwana said the committee would approach the UN Development Programme and other financiers who had pledged to sponsor the campaign.

Under the pact which led to the formation of a power-sharing government in Zimbabwe nearly one year ago, the country's three main political rivals agreed to launch an 18-month-long effort to gather the views of the people and draft a new constitution which would be put to a referendum.

Adoption of a new charter would pave way for new elections following disputed presidential polls in 2008, when President Robert Mugabe won after his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out citing violence against his supporters.

Tsvangirai became prime minister in a national unity government in February. But the administration remains beset by disputes over key appointments and the prosecution of Tsvangirai's top allies. — AFP