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Copac ignored student views
National Students Union
February 01, 2013
National Students Union is not at all pleased with the contents
of the final draft
constitution and has a bone to pick with Copac over the way provisions
for the right to education and academic freedom are captured.
Zinasu is aggrieved
by the fact that Copac, acting in a manner that has given politicians
and politics a bad name world over, invited students, which were
represented by the Zinasu Gender Secretary Coezzet Chirinda and
National Spokesperson Zechariah Mushawatu, to give views at the
Second All Stakeholders Conference only to archive them at their
offices and not include them in the draft.
Zinasu is further
angered by the fact that whilst ignoring important
views from civic society, politicians took all the time they
wanted in the world to bicker over issues on which they disagreed
in the draft constitution whilst the general population watched
idle and helpless from the sidelines almost as if the supreme law
was for politicians instead of the generality of Zimbabwe.
Most of all,
as stated elsewhere, the Union is disappointed not only by the political
processes that resulted in the production of the final draft but
also by the way these political processes, which were already inherently
flawed, were carried out.
During the Second
All Stakeholders Conference, Zinasu gave imperative and crucial
views to be considered for the final draft in terms of education
and academic freedom but absolutely non of them are part of the
Copac final draft.
Let me state
for the record that I'm not naive enough to think that the purpose
of the Second All Stakeholders Conference was to take into account
all new views and totally change the contents and structure of the
Copac draft, but whilst I fully understand this, I strongly feel
that the contributions made by Zinasu were of such significance
and magnitude that only retrogressive forces would fail to include
them in a document touted to be progressive.
The views raised
by Zinasu, especially with particular reference to the right to
education are of such paramount importance that their exclusion
from the draft is going to lead to the continuance of the underfunding
and lack of prioritization of the education sector that has been
the hallmark of governance in Zimbabwe since the late 1990s.
In terms of
academic freedom, which in the draft falls under freedom of expression,
Zinasu submitted to Copac that the latter should be elaborated on
in the constitution by stating particular freedoms to be enjoyed
under the umbrella term academic freedom.
in the provision for freedom of the media which also falls under
freedom of expression, the draft states that 'every person is entitled
to freedom of the media, which freedom includes protection of the
confidentiality of journalists' sources of information' Chapter
4 section 81 (2).
In terms of
academic freedom however, the draft simply states that every person
should enjoy academic freedom without stating important aspects
that fall under this freedom.
aspect of academic freedom that was proposed by Zinasu to be part
of the draft is the view held in all important academic freedom
declarations such as the Lima and Kampala declarations.
postulate that for academic freedom to be present, no military,
para-military, police or intelligence forces should singly or collectively
enter the premises of institutions of higher learning except in
cases were there is present or imminent danger to property or persons.
In a country
like ours were security forces, especially intelligence officers
are held to be an extreme threat to academic freedom, such a provision
would have gone a long way in guaranteeing the aforementioned freedom
to the right to education, the Zinasu demand at the second all stakeholders
Conference was concise and clear: Copac was to remove exactly nine
words (which are underlined below) from chapter 4 section 75 (4)
which states that 'the state must take reasonable legislature and
other measures, within the limits of the resources available to
it, to achieve the progressive realization of the right to education.'
of Copac to expunge these words from the draft constitution means
that the state is left with a backdoor through which it can escape
from fully guaranteeing the right to education.
in the future, if it fails to provide funds for such a programs
as the grants and loans scheme which is crucial for higher and tertiary
education, the state can run to the constitution and point out to
the nine words underlined above and say it is not within its available
resources to provide grants and loans.
The state can
do this even though the reason it will have no money to adequately
fund education will be because it will be prioritizing less important
things such as foreign trips for government officials with blotted
delegations and buying expensive top of the range vehicles for ministers.
the Union's reservations about the final draft and after taking
into consideration its progressive sections, Zinasu is soon to consult
students on the way to proceed during the referendum.
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