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President Mugabe said the inclusive Government bringing together Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations was not a permanent arrangement – elections in two years

Posted by African Press International on February 26, 2009

Harare (Zimbabwe) – Zimbabwe is likely to have a new constitution within the next 18 to 24 months after which voters will head back to the polls for fresh elections, President Mugabe has said.

In his traditional birthday interview at Zimbabwe House yesterday, President Mugabe said the inclusive Government bringing together Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations was not a permanent arrangement and in addition to working on economic recovery, would put forward a draft constitution in preparation for the elections. He pointed out that the parties would most likely work with a draft document that has already been agreed upon, which would be subjected to a referendum before any parliamentary procedures could be initiated to give it legal effect.

“We are an interim arrangement, we are not a permanent inclusive Government. Ahead of us is a whole constitutional process which requires that we address the issue of the constitution. There is already a draft that the three parties agreed on, they call it the Kariba Draft because that is where they came up with the document. We shall all look at it and when we are all satisfied, it shall be put to the people in a referendum.

“If the people say yes, then the draft will be allowed to pass through Parliament. The schedule, the timeframe that was agreed on by the parties, was that within 18 to 24 months we should have a referendum. We will then have an election thereafter, perhaps in about two years’ time,” President Mugabe, who turned 85 on February 21, said.

He also said the creation of the inclusive Government did not nullify any statutory appointments legally made in the recent past. This was in apparent reference to the appointment of Mr Johannes Tomana as the Attorney-General and Dr Gideon Gono’s re-appointment as Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for another five years.

The President said the appointments had been made legally and the individuals occupying the various offices in question had been vetted by the responsible authorities to ascertain their suitability for the job.

“I do not see any reason why those people should go and they will not go.”

He said the inclusive Government must be united on the principles of national sovereignty and independence, reiterating that land tenure and agrarian reforms were irreversible. Anyone who rejected such principles, the President said, would in turn be rejected by the Government, adding that undue foreign meddling in the country’s affairs would not be tolerated.

He urged members of the inclusive Government to engage each other constructively and follow due procedures when making criticisms of policy or of their fellow officials in the executive. President Mugabe indicated that he would soon meet with the Minister of Finance, Mr Tendai Biti, to discuss the status of the Zimbabwe dollar and the use of foreign currencies, particularly the South African rand.

“I do not see us adopting the rand as our main currency. Even in Sacu, the South African

Customs Union, the members have their own currencies even though they use the rand. Botswana has its pula, Namibia has its dollar, Lesotho, Swaziland, they all have their own currencies.

“But they base them on the rand and that is something that we might consider doing here. At the moment we are using all international currencies. When it was first mooted, the idea of paying people in US dollars, I was against it and I still am because we just do not have enough (foreign currency). It is a problem that confronts us even now. Personally, I think we should revalue the Zimbabwe dollar in a manner that fixes its relationship with the rand for a while. We will protect it for a while, for a while as we increase production. But we should protect it.

“We do not expose it to fluctuations of the market. The problem is that the people of Zimbabwe have become speculators. There are some people who, if you say the (Zimbabwe) dollar is four to one with the rand, they will immediately make it eight to one and 10 to one.

“So there is this escalation on a daily basis. We should fix it (the value of the local currency) legally and keep it there for now. I want to discuss this with Biti. And how do you make it go? Through production in agriculture, manufacturing, mining and the people get goods and services and then we can expose it to the fluctuations of the market,” he said.

* The Herald is the official newspaper of the Zimbabwean government

Source.The Herald (Zimbabwe)* – February 26, 2009.

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