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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Observation on the Constitution-making process in Chivhi
    Legal Resources Foundation (LRF)
    August 23, 2010

    The Legal Resources Foundation is undertaking an exercise whereby it is observing the Constitution making process, especially in those areas where it has carried out legal education programmes about the Constitution. Hereunder are observations, initially from one area:

    Venue: Nyamakwe Business Centre, Chivi

    Participants: An average of 75 people, 33 women and 42 men attended the meeting.

    The process: According to the report, the COPAC team exhibited a good attitude and people were encouraged to freely express their views.

    Issues Raised

    Bill of rights - people clearly indicated that the rights of people had to be protected and that the Lancaster House Constitution, with its 19 amendments, has not been able to do that. The rights that people wanted protected are right to life, freedom of expression, freedom of association and political rights particularly the right to vote for a candidate of one's choice without being victimized. Social and economic rights, such as the right to education, health, shelter and food, were highlighted. All participants were for the retention of the death penalty. They indicated that many people had been killed during election periods and the perpetrators of such offences were not arrested. It was however disappointing to note that in discussions on women's rights women did not participate in numbers and failed to expound their rights fully.

    Land - Diverse views were given regards land. Some said that land was the inheritance that would be left for posterity whilst others added that land had not been distributed in an equitable manner and that the land reform programme should be re-visited, so that land would be redistributed equitably. Others suggested that land was to be given to those who can farm and produce for the nation and not to everyone.

    Citizenship - Only 4 people wanted dual citizenship while the rest indicated that one could only be a citizen of one country.

    Executive, Legislative and Judicial powers - One man who was reading from a paper indicated that he wanted two presidential terms, but that provision would not apply retrospectively and that he did not want a Prime Minister. He went further to say that the Executive President, since he was the CEO, should be allowed to appoint the legislature and judges. This man was supported by two women and two other men. The rest of the group indicated that they wanted a presidential term limited to two terms. Another man, who was also reading from a paper, said that the judiciary was to be appointed by an independent body.

    Traditional leaders -The general view was that these should be retained but people indicated that they lacked political neutrality, thus there was need to supervise them.

    Attorney General, Public Protector and Audit controller - Only one person indicated that the Attorney General should be a government lawyer and prosecutor whilst most people were against this. However, they could not respond meaningfully to the issue of the Public Protector and Audit Controller.

    Systems of government - Women were not able to respond to these, whilst a few men managed to support why they wanted a particular system. The general view was that they wanted a hybrid system as far as electoral systems are concerned. Furthermore they wanted power to be devolved .Very few participants had an opinion on the Gender and Education Commission. The few people who meaningfully responded to this question indicated that they wanted such commissioners to be appointed by Parliament and not the Executive President. The people were able to engage confidently with the team on those areas that LRF had covered in its outreach work but with those areas that were not covered, such as systems of government and electoral systems, they responded less effectively, presumably due to lack of information. It was also sad to note that some people were reading from papers, thereby seemingly expressing other people's views.

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