THE Cabinet committee charged with breaking the logjam on the country’s new constitution has failed to reach a deal over changes to the document proposed by Zanu PF but bitterly opposed by its GPA rivals.
Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga, who chairs the committee, said the team would meet again on Monday in yet another bid to steer the process forward.
“We met (Thursday) but it is work in progress. We are meeting again on Monday, but something positive is happening,” he said.
President Robert Mugabe and GPA counterparts Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy, Arthur Mutambara established the cross-party committee to help the coalition parties reach common ground over the draft charter.
The team comprises Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa, Finance minister Tendai Biti, Regional Integration minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Copac co-chairpersons Paul Mangwana, Douglas Mwonzora and Edward Mkhosi.
Speaking after Thursday’s meeting Mangwana added: “There was progress, but we will meet again on Monday to continue with the work.”
The committee was named after the second stakeholders’ conference held in October failed reach a deal on incorporating changes to the draft proposed by Zanu PF leaving the constitutional reform process stalled.
Mugabe has already warned that he may be forced to dissolve Parliament and name an election date if the process, which has taken more than three years against initial projections of 18 months, remains deadlocked.
"If they do not (agree), I am going to declare sooner or later the day of an election. Enough is enough. We cannot continue to drag our feet on this," the Zanu PF leader told a recent party conference.
Mugabe wants new polls held in March to replace the coalition government and s accused his opponents of using delaying tactics to avoid the certain defeat.
"Others are afraid to bring the exercise (Constitution making) to an end because they know that it will bury them forever,” Mugabe told supporters at the Gweru conference.
"This conference must take a definite stand, no dilly-dallying and enough is enough. We are going to go for elections.”
The MDC-T however, insists that the country is unlikely to be ready for new elections before June next year.
Said Biti, who is the party’s secretary general: "Zimbabwe clearly is not ready for an election; it's impossible to have an election in March.
"(But) we will limp our way to some form of acceptable agreement. Our people are tired. They want a solution. They want peace. So I think we will reach an agreement because everyone is exhausted."
The new constitution is part of a raft of key reforms expected the MDC-T insists will help ensure credible elections.
Once finalised, the draft charter is expected to be put to a referendum, leading to the new elections.