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Pasirayi on Rules for our Rulers
Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
April 26, 2010
constitution making process has been dogged by squabbling over funding
and process while the issues of content that equally matter have
taken a back seat. On this edition of Rules for our Rulers SW Radio
Africa journalist Lance Guma speaks to Philip Pasirayi from the
Centre for Community
Development in Zimbabwe. CCDZ has been active in organising
constitutional outreach meetings in remote rural areas while risking
intimidation and threats from local leaders loyal to ZANU PF.
Zimbabweans want a multi-party system where their freedoms can be
guaranteed, presidential office terms limited, separation of powers
within the three arms of government, the Judiciary, Executive and
the Legislature. He challenged people to take part in the outreach
exercise to have their views heard. This he said is because politicians
always prefer exploiting an ignorant population.
Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to the
programme Rules for our Rulers. This week we speak to Philip Pasirayi
who is the co-ordinator for the Centre for Community Development
in Zimbabwe (CCDZ). Mr. Pasirayi thank you for joining us on the
Pasirayi: Thank you for having me Lance, thank you.
Right now obviously on this programme we look at constitutional
issues and we understand your organisation has planned some
constitutional outreach meetings for Mahusekwa that's on Tuesday
and Mudzi on Thursday. Talk us through this, what is this all about?
The constitutional outreach meetings that CCDZ is holding in various
communities throughout the country are meant to sensitise communities,
to sensitise people on the tenets of a democratic constitution because
we understand that a democratic constitution is key or is central
to good governance so we are moving around the country but concentrating
mostly in Mashonaland, the Midlands and Manicaland Provinces, as
well as Masvingo to raise awareness amongst the public on their
role, the role that the public play in the writing a of a new constitution.
So basically that's what we are doing.
Guma: Now we already
have the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee, COPAC, they have
their own outreach programme which for several months now has been
put off over different forms of squabbling. Can you differentiate,
what is the difference between what COPAC is supposed to be doing
and what you are doing?
In terms of raising awareness on people's rights, on the role
of the ordinary Zimbabwean in the constitution making process, let's
be frank to say that the Parliamentary Select Committee is doing
nothing apart from placing an advert here and there on air but there's
nothing much, there is nothing beyond that. So our role as the Centre
for Community Development in Zimbabwe, working in partnership with
other civic society partners, we are holding outreach, an outreach
programme that is meant to define the role of the ordinary citizen,
because I will tell you Lance, that what is happening as well is
a deliberate misinformation.
This fact that it is
only a few people who are supposed to give their views to COPAC
and also the fact that the whole process of constitution making
has been politicised. You hear the political parties are saying
this which is not the way it should happen. Every citizen, every
Zimbabwean has got a right to participate in this process, every
citizen has got a right to have his or her views taken on board
so that they get reflected in the new constitution. So basically
that is the thrust we are taking. We are educating the public, we
are telling them that they have got a role to play in the writing
of a new constitution for the country.
Guma: The constitutional
outreach meetings that you've planned for Mahusekwa and Mudzi,
you are saying they will go ahead despite threats and intimidation
of CCDZ staffers by the local partisan leadership? Tell us about
that, who is threatening you?
Pasirayi: Yes we are
being threatened, we are being threatened, you agree with me that
in these communities we are working in, there's been a lot
of violence that has been taking place targeting civil society activists,
targeting political activists from the formerly opposition Movement
for Democratic Change. So we continue to experience that, only last
week our Programme Officer Vivian Masiyambiri was in Mahusekwa trying
to mobilise people for the meeting which is scheduled for tomorrow,
but she was called for a meeting by a group of 17 people who threatened
her with violence and said that any CCDZ person who comes to attend
that meeting will bear the consequences.
So that is what we are
saying - to say this new constitution is for Zimbabweans, it is
not for political parties, it's not for, it's for Zimbabweans,
so that is the message we are taking. We are even inviting, for
your own information, we are even inviting those hostile groups,
we extended, we have been extending invitations to district co-ordinating
committees of ZANU PF as well as the MDC, we have been inviting
war veterans, we have been inviting these community leaders but
the fact is that some of them continue or remain to be hostile to
this civic education which is meant to liberate the people, which
is meant to sensitise people on what their rights are.
Guma: Still talking about
these threats and intimidation, give us a sense of countrywide how
is it like? We are hearing reports about militias being deployed,
we are hearing about people being intimidated to vote for the Kariba
Draft, give us an assessment of the countrywide situation. How is
Yes in communities where we are working with also experience that.
We can authoritatively say that there is violence which is taking
place but we cannot compare it to the violence that took place in
the run-up to the presidential election, last year but one, but
the fact is that there is violence which is taking place but a lot
of it is covert. There are militia groups which have been deployed,
some of the bases, the youth militia bases that were used in the
run-up to the presidential election have been reactivated so you
find out that, there is a case that we reported on, we did a statement
two weeks ago, a teacher at Dandara Primary School in Murewa had
his home besieged by ZANU PF activists and they wanted to take him.
in the middle of the night, in the dead of the night, they wanted
to take him to a nearby base which was used to torture people in
the run-up to the presidential election run off in June 2008. So
violence is there but what we cannot do is to compare the violence
that is happening now with the violence that took place then, but
violence is there and it's being perpetrated by the same people.
Like I told you that we had our officer who went to Mahusekwa to
try to extend invitations even to some of these hostile groups but
what do they do, they start to interrogate her, they start to quiz
her, they start to demand all sorts of information including our
funders and our board members, their physical addresses and all
sorts of things. So intimidation is there, violence is there -
we can confirm that because we have experienced it ourselves in
these communities where we are working.
Guma: What is the motivation
because this is not the actual election? We are looking forward
to having a new constitution that will then lead to fresh elections
so in trying to deny this process moving forward, what is the possible
ZANU PF motive here?
Pasirayi: The motive
for ZANU PF is that people should not know the truth, so they want,
it's a strategy to keep people in the darkness. So if people
do not know about their rights, if people do not know that they
have got a right to participate in the making of a new constitution,
it means we remain ignorant, the whole country is ignorant and we
are taken advantage of by these politicians. But this is what they
have done for far too long and we are saying that the people have
got a right to know. The people must say whatever they want to get
in the new constitution so that we have a document that reflects
our wishes in Zimbabwe.
We want more multi-party-ism
we want our freedoms to be guaranteed by a new constitution, we
want separation of powers, not the current situation where we have
got an unlimited President in terms of Office, in terms of Office
where we don't have separation of powers, where we have got
all the powers vested in one individual, in one arm of government.
So we are saying that these people must be told the truth, the people
must be enlightened on what their rights are so that they are not
taken advantage of.
Guma: What do you make
of the process being lead by COPAC, apart from the excuses over
funding and other things that have delayed the outreach, the whole
process, because groups like the NCA were attacking, saying it's
too dominated by the politicians, what do you make of this process
This process is not the best we can have, even if you try to analyse
Article Six of the Global
Political Agreement, there is no scope for public participation.
It's concentrated in the politicians, in the political circles.
So what we are saying is that this process, there is a lot of politicisation
that has taken place. The politicians want to dominate the process
but it's entirely up to us as Zimbabweans to demand our right
to participate and to demand what is ours. It presents an opportunity
for us, it's not the best that we can have but it presents
an opportunity where we can get in there and demand what we want
in terms of the new document because we must not jump the gun, this
is the process that has been laid out, we also have pro-democracy
elements within the inclusive government and we should continue
to engage those pro-democracy elements within the inclusive government.
here of the Directors as well as the Ministers appointed by the
Movement for Democratic Change, these are guys that we've
been with in the trenches, they know what we want as Zimbabweans,
they know what we want as civic society, that we need, when we talk
about a new democratic constitution that this is what we are saying.
So we must continue to engage those people until what we want is
achieved. So that is what we are saying, this is not a perfect process
but it's a process that gives us an opportunity where we can
come in and continue to push for our demands. The demand for separation
of powers, the recognition of civil and political rights as well
as economic rights placed at the same level, respect and recognition
of child rights, people political rights including the right to
vote. We have not been having that for a long time now and it's
been 30 years into Independence, we need to say this is the break
and we are defining a, we are charting a new way forward for Zimbabwe,
our best honest democratic constitution.
Guma: I was looking at
some of the questionnaires that are going to be used by the rapporteurs
and this outreach team and I raised this issue with one of the co-chairs
of COPAC, Edward Mukosi, that these questionnaires seem to be very
vague, they seem to be very complex and ordinary people in the rural
areas are not going to understand them. Have you had the chance
to look at what they are going to be using and also if I may ask
you, you are working in communities like Mudzi and Mahusekwa how
is it like when you try and reach out to people who maybe their
level of education is not as the same as maybe some of the people
driving this process? How do you break this down and make it simple?
Pasirayi: Well that's
what we've been saying, that they should not be used, the
talking points. The talking points should not confine people in
their thinking and in their participation in this whole process,
the outreach process. What we are telling communities is that, yes
the Parliamentary Select Committee will come with talking points
but the people must not feel limited by these talking points, they
must air their views, they must speak out in terms of what exactly
they want, so we do not expect the outreach teams, this COPAC, to
go out there and start to read out the questions or the talking
points to the public.
We are going to have
a situation whereby in those communities where we have reached,
they will be told that this is what we want, we don't want
to work within the confines of what you have said because the people
must feel free to speak to every other issue that they think should
be put in the new constitution and it's entirely up to the
drafter to actually now discern whether the people's contribution
can get into the constitution.
Well because, in some
instance people can talk about the fact that like we have experienced
during our road shows that we have been having throughout these
provinces I talked to you about, that people will say we want our
children not to be sent away because they fail to pay school fees.
Now you as a drafter, you'd then know that they are talking
about the right to education you see, so you then need to have technical
expertise and actually demonstrate that this issue can be an issue
to get into the constitution, this issue is not a constitution issue.
Guma: So do you think
maybe that this drafting of these talking points is an attempt to
control what people are going to be contributing?
Pasirayi: I wouldn't
say that because well, let's face it, there are some people
who are going to be guided really accordingly in terms of their
contribution. I think COPAC has done it in good faith to say that
we need to guide people in what they are going to say about traditional
leaders, in what they are going to say about human rights, in what
they are going to say about women's rights, but what our message
to the people is that they must not feel confined, they must not
feel limited in terms of their contribution.
They must say whatever
they want, or whatever they think should be enshrined in the new
constitution and its entirely up to the drafters or the drafting
committee, which we understand is made up of experts, to then decide
on which matters get into the constitution, which matters are constitutional
matters without leaving out the people's views as happened
in 1999. We had a situation whereby the Chidyausiku Commission ignored
people's views and took on board the views of the political
elite and what did that lead us to? It led us to the rejection of
the draft. So we are saying that let us not squander this opportunity
of again by leaving out people's views.
Guma: OK, final question
for you Mr Pasirayi, I see here from your communication about the
outreach meetings in Mahusekwa and Mudzi that you are actually also
inviting representatives from other organisations to join in, so
explain this, how are you working with the other groups?
We are working well with the other groups. In that statement we
have mentioned the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition, we have mentioned also the Legal Resources
Foundation, we are doing collaboration, a lot of collaboration on
our constitutional outreach and there is a lot that we are sharing
in common you know in terms of what we are campaigning for, in terms
of the issues that we are campaigning for. For instance, the separation
of power within the three arms of government, the Judiciary, Executive
and the Legislature.
We are also
advocating for women's rights, we are also advocating for
child's rights, we are advocating for civil and political
rights. So these are the issues that these organisations are also
advocating for and we saw it fit to collaborate in implementing
these programmes so that we have to maximise results, we achieve
maximum results. So tomorrow, in Mahusekwa we are going there with
colleagues from Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition as well as Legal
Resources Foundation and for the meeting on Thursday we are
also going there with our partners.
I think these
two organisations and the Zimbabwean human rights organisation ZimRights
who are going to be talking about human rights, the Declaration
of Rights and the need for the new Declaration of Rights in the
new constitution to be justiciable. If people have got a right to
health, when that right has been violated, they must have the legal
backing to approach the Court so that right can be remedied or can
be addressed or can be redressed. So those are the issues that we
are going to be talking about and these partners, we have been working
with them since last year in October in terms of our constitutional
That there was Philip Pasirayi, he's the Co-ordinator for
the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe, otherwise known
as CCDZ. Mr. Pasirayi thank you for joining us on Rules for our
Pasirayi: Oh thank you
so much Lance.
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