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clouds hover over constitution making process
in Zimbabwe Coalition
February 03, 2010
While the Parliament
Select Committee, which is spearheading the constitution making
process, is set to deploy teams for the outreach meetings, a dark
cloud hovers over the success of the process owing to the arrests
and intimidation of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters
in mostly peri-urban and rural areas. According to a member of COPAC,
the committee is expected to gazette names of teams carrying out
the outreach program today, 3 February 2010. A total of 630 people
are carrying out the outreach over a period of 65 days countrywide.
process is witnessing significant progress following almost two
weeks of uncertainty owing to disagreements between the political
parties, arrests of MDC supporters on trumped up charges and terror
campaigns by suspected state agents, members of the uniformed forces
and ZANU PF supporters in mostly peri-urban and rural areas continue.
According to reports received by The Coalition, the terror campaigns
are aimed at ensuring the adoption of the Kariba
Draft constitution or maintenance of the current constitution,
amended 19 times over a period of 23 years. These reports could
ultimately result in a skewed outcome.
30 January 2010, 62 members of the MDC were arrested under the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) for allegedly holding an unsanctioned
meeting at the party's district office in Mount Darwin. This was
despite the fact that the meeting was internal and thus, did not
require a clearance. Although 50 of the 62 supporters were released
on the same day, 12 remain in police custody at Bindura Police Station
and were scheduled to appear in court yesterday, 2 February 2010.
In Binga, on Tuesday 26 January 2010, eight members of the Morgan
Tsvangirai led party were arrested and later released for convening
a meeting without police clearance. As in the Mount Darwin case,
the meeting was an internal gathering where members of the political
party in the area were discussing constitutional matters.
constitution monitoring project, ZZZICOMP comprised of the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (ZESN) and Zimbabwe
Peace Project (ZPP) released a report which stated that there
are at least eight documented and confirmed cases of assault, torture
and other forms of intimidation perpetrated against MDC supporters
by suspected State agents and ZANU PF supporters in Mudzi, Kuwadzana,
Domboshawa, Chimbondora, Harare, Cheramwiwa and Mashonaland Central.
The report also mentions that there are some politicians holding
meetings suggesting answers to what they say are the talking points
which the Parliament Select Committee will use during the outreach
phase and demanding that people adopt the Kariba Draft constitution.
This is allegedly happening in areas such as Matabeleland North,
Chitungwiza, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Midlands and Masvingo.
According to a source
in the Eastern border town of Mutare, reports of intimidation and
threats of violence against MDC supporters are escalating in the
Manicaland province particularly in Chimanimani East (from Cashel
valley and Nedziwa) and Buhera North. ZANU PF supporters and some
members of the uniformed forces are allegedly hosting meetings telling
people not to participate in the constitution making process unless
they are advocating for either the Kariba draft constitution or
the continued use of the current constitution. At the meetings,
participants are allegedly receiving information that the MDC is
advocating for 'inhumane' rights such as abortion and homosexuality
regardless of the fact that both rights hinge on the respect of
Freedom of Choice and thus should not be classified as 'inhumane'
rights. The leaders of these groups are also threatening villagers
with assault and ex- communication from their areas if they take
part in the constitution making process.
These developments in
the political arena are an indication of ZANU PF's determination
to ensure that the envisaged constitution suffers a still birth.
The former ruling party continues to use uniformed forces and the
police to intimidate the people of Zimbabwe giving credence to the
argument presented by The Coalition during a discussion on Thursday
28 January 2010 that although ZANU PF lost the 2008 election to
the MDC, the political party retains significant power over MDC
as they are in control of the security forces.
There is thus need for
civil society and Zimbabweans at large to advocate for institutional
and legislative reforms during the constitution making process for
a democratic constitution to come out. As long as repressive laws
such as POSA still exist and security forces remain under ZANU PF
control, the outcome of the constitution could be pre-determined
by President Mugabe's party.
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