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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Letter to the co-chairpersons of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution
    Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
    July 12, 2009

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    We write to register our several concerns relating to the First All Stakeholders' Constitutional Conference (1st ASHCC) which is due to take place from 13-14 July 2009 in Harare.

    The following facts are relevant:

    1. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has been allocated a total of eight (8) delegates for the 1st ASHCC. This only became known to us on Saturday 11 July 2009 - a mere 2 days before the event is due to commence - through a stroke of luck, after reading The Saturday Herald in which the list of proposed delegates was published.

    2. ZLHR received an invitation - ostensibly from the Clerk of Parliament - at our offices at 11:30hrs on Saturday 11 July 2009.

    3. This invitation was not delivered by a parliamentary staff member, but a member of a civic organisation who had visited Parliament that same day and had found a number of invitations for non-governmental organisations "lying around and in danger of not being delivered, or of being picked up and taken for use by persons not from the named organisations".

    4. The invitation did not provide information as to the intent, objectives and substance of the First ASHCC, nor did it include details of a programme or even when proceedings will commence.

    5. At no stage before this was ZLHR or, to the best of our knowledge, other colleagues in civil society approached or consulted on views about and suggestions for the 1st ASHCC, its objectives and how the programme should be structured in order to ensure that it is something of value and moves the process of constitution-making forward in a positive way and with meaningful popular (and civic) participation.

    6. The provincial consultations which were held last week, and which we monitored, were also not a platform at which these issues could be - or were - raised, discussed and/or satisfactorily resolved.

    7. We have learned that there will be two Chairpersons - Dr Hope Sadza and Professor Makhurane. At no time was ZLHR or, to the best of our knowledge, any of our colleagues from civil society consulted on our suggestions and views on this critical issue. Instead, we are advised only after the selection has been made by politicians.

    8. ZLHR also noted from the list published in The Saturday Herald that political party representation accounts for 40% of the total number of delegates, while non-governmental organisations have an 8% representation. We have also learned that, in addition to the 40% political party representation, all parliamentarians will be attending over and above the 40%, and that the government also has been allocated a large number of delegates.

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