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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Civil society cluster consultative meetings on the ongoing constitutional reform process
    National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations in Zimbabwe (NANGO)
    April 29, 2010

    The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) facilitated Civil Society Cluster Consultative Meetings on the ongoing constitutional reform process from 27 to 29 April 2010. The meetings were attended by 712 delegates representative of the various stakeholders within civil society actively participating on the constitutional reform process.

    Civil Society thematic clusters expressed strong reservations concerning the administration and level of consultation with regard to the conduct of the process. Civil Society's major concern is that the Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC)'s talking points planned for the outreach program are prescriptive and suggestive hence probabilities are high that the output thereof shall not adequately represent the will and intention of the people of Zimbabwe. Further concern was expressed regarding the technical language used in drafting the talking points as this will elude the layman's scope.

    Civil Society notes with great concern the existing gaps within the talking points; key issues affecting the right to health, environment, and equality before the law, and humanitarian assistance are not adequately addressed. The delegates observed that COPAC had not consulted key stakeholders, including civil society, hence the resultant gaps that have been identified in the talking points. We therefore call for broader consultations on the talking points before these are finalised by COPAC.

    Civil Society raised concerns about the operational environment which is not currently conductive for the outreach teams to conduct their work. Delegates were gravely concerned that the majority of our people will not be able to freely contribute to the drafting of the new constitution in the existing polarised environment. There is overwhelming evidence of ongoing systematic harassments and intimidation of civil society activists whose civic education activities are frequently disrupted by state agents. We hence call upon the inclusive government to immediately attend to the legislative agenda to ensure that a conducive environment, with security of the person being observed as paramount, hence should be guaranteed for this critical national process; Restrictive legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) are the key statutory instruments being used for stifling freedom of movement, association and access to information. The people are starved of crucial information because of the restricted media and the claustrophobic environment.

    Civil society notes with concern the level of preparedness of COPAC for the outreach meetings given both the operational background and the logistical arrangement needed to put together a credible national consultative process. Thus accordingly we call upon greater transparency on management of this key process and call for publication of clear dates for completion of the outreach and next steps.

    Civil Society pointed out that it is imperative to address the issues of concern regarding the talking points, level of preparedness of COPAC and the operational environment before embarking on the outreach phase.

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