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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Model Constitution
    The Law Society of Zimbabwe
    October 31, 2010

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    More than a year ago, in February 2009, the Council of the Law Society of Zimbabwe decided to participate in the constitution-making process which began with the signing of the Global Political Agreement and is continuing today.

    The Council's decision was taken after careful deliberation. The Law Society represents all the lawyers in Zimbabwe. Its role, under section 53 of the Legal Practitioners Act, is to represent the views of the legal profession and to promote reforms in the law. There can be no greater reform in the law than the preparation of a new constitution, and the Law Society and its members have a vital interest in the process: the new constitution will determine whether and to what extent human rights will be respected in Zimbabwe, whether the judiciary will be independent, and whether lawyers will be free to protect their clients' rights and interests; in short, whether the rule of law will be maintained. Moreover, the Law Society is in a unique position to aid the constitutional process. It is a non-political body, so its decisions are not affected by partisan politics. Through its members it is the greatest repository of legal skills in the country, and through its contacts with other professional bodies it can call on legal expertise from elsewhere in the region.

    All this persuaded the Council that the Law Society should take the lead in putting forward proposals for the new constitution. These proposals, the Council considered, would be best presented in the form of a draft constitution.

    The Law Society began the process by discussing constitutional issues with its members at the Winter School in July 2009. In August that year the Society commissioned researchers to study the 17 thematic areas that had been identified by an All-Stakeholders' Conference organised by the Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC). After much work and debate, these themes were discussed at a conference held concurrently with the Society's Summer School in 2009. Assisting in these debates and discussions were constitutional experts from inside and outside Zimbabwe. Of these I should particularly mention and thank Professor Christina Murray of the University of Cape Town, Professor Jeffrey Jowell Q.C., Mr Patrick M. Mtshaulana a South African advocate and Mr Mkhululi Nyathi. Their expertise and guidance were invaluable in developing and refining the Society's proposals.

    Next, the Council engaged a group of drafters from amongst its members to capture the views that had been expressed and to encapsulate them in a draft constitution. The draft they produced was discussed further at a conference in May this year and was further refined as a result of the opinions and suggestions put forward at that conference.

    The result is the draft constitution which I present today.

    In preparing this draft, the Law Society has tried to produce a constitution that will create a binding social contract between all the people of Zimbabwe, one which will take account of the country's past and its present, and will endure to shape future generations.

    The draft seeks to entrench multi-party democracy in Zimbabwe, with significant power devolved to the provinces. A strong Declaration of Rights and a clear separation of powers will protect peoples' freedom against encroachment by the State, but at the same time the Government will have sufficient power to carry out its functions effectively.

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