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Domboshava residents demand reforms before elections
Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe
January 19, 2011

Residents of Domboshava, a farming community in Chinamhora have spoken against the holding of elections soon after the Constitutional referendum expected this year arguing that the political environment is not conducive.Speaking at a community meeting jointly organized by the Centre for Community Development In Zimbabwe (CCDZ) and a local group Wadzanai Community Development Trust yesterday, participants complained about continued harassment and intimidation by State agents and youths aligned to the ZANU PF party. The meeting held at Murape Community hall was meant to encourage people to participate in the Constitutional referendum and elections expected after the promulgation of the new law.

The meeting was attended by 140 people who included members of the public, church representatives, youths, women, councilors and other community leaders.Women, the majority of whom are members of Wadzanai Community Trust turned up for the meeting in large numbers and participated in the proceedings effectively.The women complained about the continued violations of their rights and stated that they were not allowed to say out their views freely during the public outreach phase of the ongoing Constitution-making process. "We were not allowed to speak about our issues as women. Infact it was unthinkable to stand up and say your views because we had been warned before," said one participant.

Many of the participants stated that they failed to attend the COPAC Public Consultation meetings due to lack of awareness; however they stated that they would play an active role during the Referendum. The participants stated that they hoped to have early access to the Draft Constitution to enable them to make informed decisions based on the contents of the draft because the Constitution will form a basis for the quality of their lives.

Those participants that attended the COPAC public consultations meetings pointed out that very few youth that attended because they do know the importance of the Constitution making process and they assumed that the process is a political matter and were thus afraid of being victimized. The participants suggested that COPAC should have targeted youth and children in their own 'comfort zones' in order to ensure their participation in the process.

The participants expressed matters surrounding the upcoming elections such as the need for specific effort to ensure that all campaigning will be free of violence and devoid of intimidation and threats, that the disabled are able to cast their votes in a manner that upholds their right to 'secret ballot', the need for early voter registration, the need for sufficient and accessible polling stations, and they also hoped that the draft Constitution will have dual citizenship to enable 'aliens' who were born in Zimbabwe and contributed to the liberation struggle to vote. The participants also suggested that Zimbabweans should be able to vote from any part of the world and the country; including prisoners and not be restricted by ward based voter registration.

The women expressed gratitude towards CCDZ and stated that they have been afraid to participate in matters of governance due to ignorance, discrimination, child-bearing, social and cultural factors. One of the headmen who is a woman encouraged her counterparts to challenge these barriers to women's political participation and added that there is need to support each other and ensure that women's views are taken into consideration in all governance processes. She stated that women in Domboshava have excelled in farming, supported their families and sent their children to school.

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