Zimbabwe Constitution Sets Limits on Presidential Term

Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai talks about the outlook for the country's new constitution and economy. He speaks with Bloomberg's Andres R. Martinez at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. (Source: Bloomberg)

Zimbabwe’s new constitution limits the president to two terms in office and will probably be approved in a referendum in March, allowing for elections to take place this year, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said.

“We believe we can have this constitution drafted by next week,” Tsvangirai said in an interview yesterday in Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum. “Since there is a national consensus by all parties, the referendum will be a formality.”

Agreement on the constitution ends a four-year political impasse that’s hampered Zimbabwe’s recovery from a decade-long recession. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change has shared power with President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front since 2009 following a disputed election that observers including from the European Union said was marred by violence and voting irregularities.

Under a pact brokered by the 15-nation Southern African Development Community to end the political deadlock, Zimbabwe is required to hold a referendum on a new constitution before elections can be held. Negotiations between the two parties had stalled over issues including dual citizenship, reform of the security forces and land rights.

“I don’t think there will be any dissenting voices,” Tsvangirai, 60, said. “By March we can go to the referendum.” The election “is definitely going to be this year.”

Economic Revival

The draft of the constitution, which will be ready by the end of next week, will allow Zimbabweans to hold dual citizenship, Tsvangirai said.

Mugabe, 88, has ruled the country since it won independence from the U.K. in 1980. In the 2008 election, Mugabe’s party lost its majority in parliament and a second-round presidential vote was boycotted by Tsvangirai because he said the army and ZANU-PF militia were intimidating his supporters.

Zimbabwe needs to focus on reviving its economy now that the political impasse has ended, Tsvangirai said.

“Now we need to go to a growth phase,” he said. “We cannot continue to have an economy that has no infrastructure. We are looking to have 5 percent growth.”

Zimbabwe has the world’s second-biggest platinum and chrome deposits after South Africa and also has reserves of coal, diamonds and gold. Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP) and Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS) operate platinum mines in the country while Rio Tinto Plc (RIO) runs a diamond mine. Units of Barclays Plc (BARC) and Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) operate in the country.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Andres R. Martinez in Davos, Switzerland at amartinez28@bloomberg.net; Caroline Connan in Davos at cconnan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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