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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Inclusive government - Index of articles
  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles


  • Human Rights update - Week ending 14 February 2013
    Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
    February 14, 2013

    Introduction

    In this issue which draws from our members and partners working on the ground, we cover issues relating to constitutional referendum, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights' updated analysis of the draft constitution, government interface with civil society and views on the importance of radio communication in enhancing the right to freedom of expression.

    Constitution

    13.02.2013: The Minister of Constitutional Affairs Eric Matinenga (MDC-T) announced that the government has set 16 March as the date for the referendum on the new constitution. Elections are now being anticipated either in June or July 2013.

    12.02.2013: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) released its final simplified analysis of the Draft Constitution approved for referendum by the Parliament of Zimbabwe on Wednesday 6 February 2013. Updating our previous analysis, which was circulated in September 2012, the final analysis provides information on the key provisions of each Chapter of the Draft Constitution in simplified form. Comments are made in relation to each Chapter - the black text indicates positive sections, while the blue text indicates areas which ZLHR believes remain problematic. In addition, the red text indicates changes which have been made to the Draft Constitution since the previous 2012 draft, either by COPAC or the principals to the Global Political Agreement. The text highlighted in yellow indicates whether the changes made are additions, removals or amendments to the previous draft. ZLHR states that it provides its analysis in the public interest and calls for an open, vibrant and comprehensive sensitisation process, free from violence, and in which all views are respected and tolerated. This is in line with their unwavering belief in freedom of association, freedom of expression and access to diverse information that allows Zimbabweans to make informed choices on whether to accept or reject the Draft Constitution without fear of negative repercussions.

    Inclusive Government 4th anniversary

    13.02.2013: CIVIL SOCIETY MONITORING MECHANISM (CISOMM) issued a Press Statement on the 4th Anniversary of the Formation of the Inclusive Government. In the statement, whilst CISOMM acknowledges progress in Zimbabwe since the formation of the inclusive government, it calls upon the government to take stock of the unfulfilled provisions of the political agreement in order to ensure strengthening of the framework and operating environment required to undertake a successful national referendum and elections. Such environment, CISOMM states, should guarantee the enjoyment of all fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution, including the freedom of association and assembly, freedom of movement and freedom of speech, as well as rule of law. This should also include other rights not guaranteed in the current constitution such as economic, social and cultural rights. In addition the environment should guarantee the security of the vote, security of the voter and the secrecy of the vote

    Interface between government and civil society

    13.02.2013: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition organised a discussion platform for a conversation with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai around key issues of national interest including the referendum, elections and the onslaught on civil society organizations. During the meeting, the Prime minister condemned the harassment and arrests of civil society organizations in Zimbabwe. The Premier credited civil society for playing a crucial role in national processes like the constitution making process. He revealed that the issue of the raids on NGOs had been discussed by the Cabinet with ZANU PF blaming civil society as a problem in Africa whilst the Premier reportedly told him that the democracy of a country is seen in the way it creates space for NGOs, since without civil society there is no democracy. COPAC chairperson Hon. Douglas Mwonzora also repeated Copac's determination to work with NGOs, saying there could be mechanisms to reduce the harassment (Crisis Special Edition, Issue 146).

    This interface comes in the wake of recent government dramatic clampdown on NGOs, the latest being the siege on Zimbabwe Peace Project offices on 11 February covered in our last issue and the police quashing of the protests by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members outside Parliament building in Harare on 13 Febraury 2013.

    Media

    13.02.2013: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) issued a Press Statement on the first anniversary of World Radio Day. The statement in part read that 'This year's World Radio Day celebrations focus not only on celebrating radio as a medium, but on improving international cooperation between broadcasters and encouraging major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information and freedom of expression over the airwaves. . . . Radio notably remains a powerful means of receiving information especially in the rural areas where poverty and illiteracy mean that people cannot rely on other sources of information (such as newspapers and ICTs). Indeed, broadcasting is a powerful medium that promotes democratic expression and influences ideas." The biggest challenge for broadcasting reform in southern Africa is the transformation of state/national broadcasters into public broadcasters. The national broadcasters have the biggest reach in terms of technical coverage; they fill the gap left by community and commercial broadcasters and have the greatest opportunity to inform or misinform the public. "It is therefore of utmost importance that the national broadcasters operate in the public interests, and not state interests."

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