MUGABE SUPPORTERS SEEKS TO DELAY PUBLIC HEARING


Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s party is seeking to delay the start of public hearings on a new proposed constitution, state media reported on Friday, setting up a clash with partners in the unity government. Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing government in February to end Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis. A new constitution was a key demand by Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) during negotiations leading to the unity pact.

JOURNALISTMugabe and Tsvangirai agreed on an 18 month timetable for constitutional reforms and officials have said the first public conference would be held by mid July. Lawmakers from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that they would seek to postpone provincial hearings on the new constitution — due to begin on June 20 — citing lack of preparedness. “MPs (Members of Parliament) felt that it was too late and not enough ground had been covered for this undertaking and therefore asked (that) the be deferred until proper logistical arrangements have been put in place,” ZANU-PF chief whip Joram Gumbo told the Herald.

The MDC has accused Mugabe of failing to fully implement the political agreement and the move to delay constitutional reforms could further upset the stability of the unity government. The party immediately said it would oppose the ZANU-PF proposal. “We shall be meeting … soon to discuss that proposal and a lot will depend on the reasons why they want it deferred, but from our stand point we don’t see any justification,” MDC lawmaker Douglas Mwonzora, one of three co-chairpersons of the committee, told the Herald.

The unity government, which says it needs up to $10 billion to fix an economy battered by hyperinflation, has been struggling to get aid, especially from Western donors who have demanded broad economic and political reforms before providing support. Prime Minister Tsvangirai is currently on his first trip to Europe and the United States to woo Western donors. He is expected to meet U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday to drum up support for the unity government.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

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