Voters to Decide on New Constitution in March

(Photo: IRIN)

Zimbabweans will vote to approve or reject the proposed new constitution on March 16th.

The announcement of this date for the referendum, described as a tentative date, was made by the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Eric Matinenga, in Harare on Wednesday. The date was agreed following a cabinet meeting in the capital on Tuesday.

At a joint press conference with COPAC, Matinenga said there will be no voters roll for the referendum and anyone above 18 years of age and with an identity card can walk into any polling station countrywide.

Matinenga said that due to time constraints there will only be a two week voter education exercise, instead of the one month that was expected. The Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry will conduct two civic meetings per province in that two week period, while COPAC will host one meeting per district during the same period.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has tentatively approved a request by Zimbabwe to fund the referendum and harmonized elections. The resident representative and UN coordinator, Alain Noudehou, said they want to see the election process in Zimbabwe move forward.

After the March referendum the new constitution will be passed into law between April and May. The date for harmonized elections will depend on the adoption of the new constitution and synchronization of the new electoral laws.

After the electoral amendments are done then President Robert Mugabe will announce the date for elections. This has to be announced 60 days before the polls. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Wednesday he expected presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in July after a nationwide vote on a new constitution next month.



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