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barred from conducting a workshop in Mbire
Election Support Network
April 08, 2010
The constitution reform process taking place in the country has
presented an opportunity for Zimbabweans to craft their own constitution
which reflects their principles, values and desires as a people.
The process has been deemed "a people-driven constitution"
meaning that it is for the people, by the people and with the people.
Therefore, every citizen has the right to participate and express
their views and desires for consideration in the drafting of the
new constitution. ZESN upon recognizing and appreciating this unique
opportunity, embarked on a public outreach campaign to sensitize
the communities on the various options available for electoral reforms,
exploring the pros and cons of each. The issues of discussion included
the constitution-making process, electoral systems, and electoral
management bodies, systems of governance as well as encouraging
peace and tolerance in the process. The motive was to equip the
electorate and engage them in discussions of the relevant issues
so that they can make meaningful contributions from an informed
basis when the public consultations began.
It is in this
view that ZESN organized 2 workshops in Mbire scheduled for the
7th and 8th of April 2010. A pre-visit to the area was conducted
on the 9th of March in preparation of the workshop where the ZESN
team met with the local District Administrator who appreciated the
initiative and granted ZESN permission to conduct the workshop and
police clearance was also granted.
On the 7th of
April however, the DA allegedly acting under the authority and instruction
of the Governor and the PA informed the ZESN team that the workshops
could no longer proceed as they felt that the community did not
need the deliberations and information from the workshop. They questioned
the need for reforms and peace buildings as there were no incidents
of violence in the area after branding ZESN as an animal that they
did not want to see in the area. Furthermore, threats of unspecified
action were issued to those who wished to participate or get near
the workshop venue.
This act reveals
the levels of intolerance still prevailing in some parts of the
country as this is gross violation of democratic principles and
processes as well as the letter and spirit of the GPA.
ZESN regards this incident as repressive and manipulative since
the community was denied their right to information regarding such
pertinent issues as the constitution making process in which everyone
has the right to information. It does not condone such undemocratic
practices as they stifle efforts to encourage meaningful participation
and contribution in the constitution-making process.
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