ZIMBABWE HAS approved a new Constitution following a referendum last week paving the way for elections expected later this year.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced that 95 per cent of voters in Saturday’s referendum voted for the new constitution, which received the support of the three main parties in the inclusive government.
ZEC said 3,079,966 had voted for the new constitution, while 179,000 had voted against it. There were 56,627 spoiled ballots.
The Constitution brings with it a lot of key reforms in the Southern African nation, key among them being the Presidency which, under the new draft, Limits the presidential terms to two five year terms, but this will not apply retrospectively.
This leaves the door open for long time ruler, President Robert Mugabe (89) to contest at the next elections and he is eligible to rule until he is 99.
President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai agreed on a coalition government after a disputed election in 2008.
The new constitution provides for a wide ranging Bill of Rights, but homosexuality will remain outlawed in the southern African nation.
Same sex marriages are equally banned in the country. LGBT activists have expressed concerns that the new Constitution will be used to further harass and curtail their work.
Efforts by religious leaders to have their supporters back the draft seem to have pulled off after they encouraged it saying it criminalized homosexuality. (READ: Zimbabwe Church Leaders Back Constitution Because Its Anti Gay)
LGBT groups and activists have been routinely raided in their offices and homes and arrested for trumped up charges and materials confiscated.
Under the new charter, the Prime Minister’s office will be abolished, while parliament’s powers are enhanced.
President Mugabe is now expected to sign the new constitution into law before preparations for new elections begin.