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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Church youth encouraged to participate in the Constitution Reform Process
    Practical Empowerment & Networking Youth Association (PENYA) Trust
    July 24, 2010

    Youth in the church should participate in the ongoing Constitution Reform Process. These were the sentiments echoed at a civic education workshop held by PENYA Trust targeted at youth from various churches. The workshop held on 11 June 2010 was attended by a number of youth coming from different church denominations. Its objective was to enlighten youth from the church, a critical group that seemed inert to the ongoing Constitution Reform Process. The workshop aimed at motivating and mobilising youth to participate in this historic process. Speaking during the workshop PENYA Trust's Director, Mr. Hillary Musarurwa encouraged youth from the church to take part in this nation building process as it was every Zimbabwean's duty and right to write the country's constitution. He stressed that youth in the church had taken a back seat in the whole process on the basis that constitution writing was a political exercise. Because they were the strength of the church the youth should therefore use this power positively by involving themselves in ongoing national processes. "We have spent a lot of time praying for God to give us a better Zimbabwe, now is the time to act for our prayers have been answered," he concluded.

    Also presenting to the same participants the Director of Faith for the Nation Campaign, Mr. Peter Mukwena, who was the guest speaker, said the church should factitively participate since Christians constituted 70% of Zimbabwe's population. He made an impassioned appeal for Christians to go to the outreach venues in their numbers so that their views can be heard. This, he indicated, was the only way that Zimbabwe could be declared a Christian Nation. "It's time for Christians to declare with boldness their position on the New Constitution," he reiterated, "no one will speak on behalf of Christians if they don't go the outreach venues. His presentation set the tone for the discussions and debates that ensued and he focused on 6 key words or phrases that were critical in reflecting the views of Christians which are:

    a. Acknowledging the supremacy of God

    • Zimbabwe should acknowledge the supremacy of God.
    • The Lordship of Jesus Christ should be declared and Zimbabwe should thus be declared a Christian Nation

    b. Vision

    • There should be a clear indication of the vision that this nation wants to achieve and it should be based on the Bible.
    • This vision should shape and determine how the government and the nation as a whole functions

    c. Values

    • The values and principles of this nation should be guided by the Holy Bible

    d. Salt

    • Because Christians are the salt of the earth they should take part in the Constitution making process so that politicians and other interested parties do not do as they will.
    • If allowed to do it alone the politicians will make the whole process go rotten and taste bad.
    • So like salt Christians should make the process long lasting (preservation nature of salt) and taste good for all.

    e. Light

    • The light of the Christian should shine so that the dark and evil intentions of others are not dominant in the process and are thus cancelled out for all to see clearly

    f. Word of God

    • Morals, norms and behaviours acceptable in our society should thus be based on the teachings of the Holy Bible.
    • The Word of God should become supreme in Zimbabwe

    After the ice thawing presentations the participants got into the business of the day and carried out plenary discussions on some thematic areas of the constitution. The following points were agreed upon by the participants:

    1. Preamble & Founding Principles of the Constitution

    • The preamble should acknowledge the Supremacy of God over the nation
    • It should uphold Christian values
    • The nation anthem should have verses in all three languages

    2. Separation of powers - Executive, Legislature, Judiciary

    • Checks and balance, there should be a Constitutional Court which will be separate from all the others
    • A President without executive powers and with a two-term period in office
    • The Senate should be removed
    • No chiefs in the parliament therefore a person should get into the parliament only by being voted in
    • The Vice President should not be appointed but voted in
    • Governors should not be appointed but voted for

    3. Systems of government

    • There should be devolution of power with provincial governments controlling their resources and affairs
    • There should be provincial parliaments

    4. Citizenship & Bill of Rights

    5. Women & Gender

    • Include sexual reproductive health rights
    • Women empowerment (Empowerment should be delineated into specific areas)
    • No to abortion
    • Advocate for protection and equality.

    6. Youth

    • All rights under the African Youth Charter should be guaranteed in the constitution.
    • Access to Land
    • Sexual Reproductive Health information and services
    • The right to education
    • 50% representation in all processes and systems of governance and any decision making process
    • Academic freedom
    • Autonomy/Independence of tertiary institutions

    7. Disabled

    • All buildings and cars, commuters should accommodate the people with disabilities
    • Quota representation in government at local, provincial and national levels and in all empowerment processes
    • Guarantee of education for the disabled

    8. Media

    • Removal of press censorship but the press should have limitations because they violate the rights of individuals
    • People should be allowed to say what they want in the media
    • Freedom of speech and after speech

    9. War Veterans

    10. Land, natural resources and empowerment

    • Allocate 50% percentage of land to youth therefore empowering them
    • The current constitution does not cater for land rights hence they should be included in the constitution

    11. Labour

    • International Labour Laws and Conventions should be enshrined in the constitution
    • Provisions of the Convention on Child Rights and the African Children's Charter on child labour should be guaranteed in the constitution
    • Abolition of child labour and civilisation of employment of any one aged below 16 (sixteen) even as a casual labourer.

    12. Elections, Transitional Mechanisms and independent commissions

    • All stakeholders should be involved and commissions should be independent
    • Every Zimbabwean should vote no matter where they are
    • Every soldier, policemen should vote at home

    13. Executive Organs of the state

    • There should be a specific term of office
    • The powers of the executive over these organs should be reduced
    • The powers of the executive3 should be limited

    14. Public finance and management

    • It should be managed and regulated by the constitution
    • The national treasury funds should go through the Parliament
    • The office of the Auditor General, Comptroller General should be accountable to Parliament

    15. Traditional Institutions and Customs

    16. Religion

    • Whilst acknowledging the right to practice other religions, Christianity be declared the main religion of Zimbabwe.
    • Zimbabwe should be declared a Christian Nation

    Participants then agreed to produce a list of demands which should be communicated by sharing them in their churches, placing adverts in the print media and also distributing brochures or pamphlets on the same. The demands are in the declaration below:

    • Acknowledgement of God's supremacy in the Constitution.
    • Declaration of Zimbabwe as a Christian nation.
    • We have a vision of a Zimbabwe that has peaceable habitations, that is prosperous and creates equal opportunities for everyone
    • The morals and values of Zimbabwe be guided by the Bible and cultural practices upholding unhu/ubuntu.
    • The Holy Bible be used in all public and official proceedings and an opening be made at such occasions and at school assemblies
    • All youth rights in the African Youth Charter to be guaranteed in the Constitution.
    • 50% representation in all processes, structures and resource allocations at local, regional and national level
    • The right to education and healthbe enshrined in the Constitution.
    • Dual citizenship be allowed.
    • Devolution of power
    • Transparency, honesty and integrity
    • Sexual Reproductive Health Rights be enshrined in the Constitution.
    • Access to Sexual Reproductive Health services & information.
    • Equitable access to land and other means of economy.
    • Apolitical, impartial & transparent implementation of empowerment policies.
    • No to Homosexuality.
    • No to Abortion.
    • Autonomy of tertiary institutions.
    • Age of sexual consent be raised from 16 (sixteen) to 18 (eighteen) years.
    • Criminalisation of marriages to girls under 18 (eighteen) years of age.

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