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Bulawayo Agenda update
Bulawayo Agenda

October 18, 2011

Between Thursday 13 and Saturday 15 October, Bulawayo Agenda held its 4th edition of the Annual Ideas Festival, which is a platform, hosted by the organisation for civil society and citizens to interact, share ideas and learn from one another. This year's event, with the theme, 'reclaiming our citizen space', was characterised by a hive of activity from the discussion forums, democracy fair and many other festivities. The sector discussion forums tackled four broad themes; national healing and transitional justice, constitution making process, elections and security sector reform while the public lecture focused on the transitional justice lessons from the SADC region and beyond.

Public Lecture

Scores of people attended the public lecture that was organised as part of the ideas festival activities. The speakers, Lloyd Kuveya, a Zimbabwean based in South Africa with Southern Africa Litigation Centre and John Ngaii Gikonyo an advocate from Kenya lived up to the task. The theme of discussion was "National healing and transitional justice: lessons from other African countries". Lloyd Kuveya spoke strongly on the abuse of minority groups saying the most stable societies are built by how nations protect their minorities, which is not the case with Zimbabwe. Gikonyo unpacked the transitional process and told experiences from Kenya. Participants were interested in knowing when the transition process starts. The overall outcome of the lecture and or discussions was that devolution of power in Zimbabwe will serve as a key tool for transitional justice. Devolution of power, constitutionalisation of local government, empowerment of local authorities and decentralisation have been some of the ways in which Zimbabweans have expressed their intentions to reclaim their role in policy formulation and general development in their communities.

Sector Discussion Forums

In these forums, various speakers drawn from Government, civil society, political parties and other stakeholders presented on the four themes of Security sector reform, Constitution making process and elections. Participants from Bulawayo Agenda's chapters across the country, from the local suburbs i.e. Entumbane, Nkulumane, Luveve and Makokoba discussed and made various observations, recommendations and suggestions on the key national issues to various stakeholders;

Security Sector Reform

  • ZRP should apply the law objectively and in a non-selective manner.
  • Petition the Minister of Defence to instruct the army to stop dabbling in politics.
  • Advocate for the amendments of Defence Act to stop generals from making political statements.
  • Police Act should be reviewed to deter police from being partisan and using force against members of the public.
  • Security details harboring political ambitions should resign from the army in order to minimize state-sponsored violence.
  • Security personnel who have been involved in violence should be forced to resign (lustration) from public office.

National healing and Transitional Justice

  • Communities should take the lead in devising home grown mechanisms on national healing rather than waiting for government to lead. (Community-led and victim-centered process)
  • CSOs should not wait for government all the time but also initiate national healing processes.
  • CSOs programming should balance focus on both rural and urban populace
  • All partners in the inclusive government should own up to national healing and speak to key issues in public pronouncements.

Constitution making process

  • Participants said that local governance in Zimbabwe is vulnerable and overly dependent on central government.
  • Partners in the inclusive government should be sincere about efforts to achieve a new constitution that reflects the people's will especially on constitutionalisation of local governance.

Elections

  • Repressive pieces of legislation like POSA should be repealed as a matter of urgency as they prohibit women from meaningfully participating in critical national discourses because of fear.
  • Electoral Act should ensure a free and fair election in Zimbabwe; should clearly cater for management of the smooth transfer of power.

Bulawayo Agenda would like to thank all stakeholders and partners for attending and supporting to the success of the 4th edition of the Ideas Festival. Just like the other three editions of the Festival, participants discussed issues that affect their being and these shall be taken up by the organisation and the broader civil society.

Visit the Bulawayo Agenda fact sheet

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