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Constitution making process in Zimbabwe: Avenues for effective youth participation
National Youth Development Trust
July 19, 2011

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"The Constitution of a nation is not simply a structure which mechanically defines the structures of government and the relation between the government and the governed, it is a "mirror of the national soul", the identification of the ideals and aspirations of a nation, the articulation of the values binding its people and disciplining its government"- Ismael Mohammed

"..a super imposed constitutional formulae or constitutional arrangements that . . . .do not address the real causes of the discontent, are sure to generate their own legitimacy crisis."

A critical appreciation of the constitution making process in Zimbabwe this far.

The importance of the Constitution is undisputable as it is the central point of all governance issues and one of the tenants of democratisation. Constitutional democracy entails using the constitution as a supreme and fundamental law to regulate and limit the powers of government as well as to secure the efficacy of such limitations in actual practice. Similarly, the Constitution ensures that the legitimacy of the government is regularly established by requiring that its powers are not assumed or exercised without the mandate of the people. This end is achieved through periodic, regular, free and fair elections that are administered by well defined electoral laws espoused in a nation's constitution.

A good constitution assures the protection of fundamental rights of a nation's citizens, impartiality and independent conduct of the three arms of state and above all the safety, security of citizens and the rule of law. Therefore, the aim of any country is to achieve a constitutional order that is legitimate, credible, enduring and structurally accepted by its people without compromising the integrity and effectiveness of governance.

However, Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular has been facing challenges in its quest to achieve constitutional order. Zimbabwe's current Constitution was crafted in 1979 under the Lancaster House agreement and has succumbed to a record of 19 Amendments to date. Attempts to craft a new constitution in the year 2000 were rejected by the people of Zimbabwe in a referendum. Various interlocking factors help to explain the "no vote". Amongst them was the lack of wider consultation with the responsible committee alleged to be purely elitist (500 members comprising mostly MPs) and a perception that it was a ZANU-PF attempt to smuggle a Constitution of its liking. Thus the search for a viable, acceptable and a credible constitution in Zimbabwe continues as evidenced by Constitutional Amendment Number 19 which legalised the Global Political Agreement (GPA) of 2008. Amongst other things, the GPA stated the need for a people driven and people oriented constitution in Zimbabwe . As such, since June 2010 the country has embarked on a drive towards the constitution making process.

The stages that have been implemented thus far are as follows:

  • The Appointment of the Constitution Select Committee
  • All stakeholders Conference
  • Outreach consultations
  • Data uploading
  • Sitting of thematic committees.

The stages that remain are as follows:

  • Drafting stage
  • Second all stakeholders conference
  • Draft constitution debate in Parliament

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