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  • Constitution Talking Points part 1 – Constitution Watch 4/2010
    April 23, 2010

    Visit Part II of this article

    The talking points are the questions or statements to be posed by the Outreach Teams when they consult the people on what they want for the Constitution. They were finalised by a team of six lawyers, two from each political party, working from a list of statements and questions which came out of the training workshop for Outreach Teams. These talking points have been agreed by ZANU-PF, MDC-T, MDC-M and Chiefs. There is a Preamble and 17 thematic areas

    Preamble: A preamble is a preliminary statement that introduces a constitution. A preamble normally carries the major historical legacies and challenges of a nation and its values and aspirations.

    Talking Points/Key Questions

    a) What are the legacies, values and aspirations that should be carried in the preamble?

    b) In dealing with our historical legacies, should the preamble single out sections of our society or should it identify our legacies as collective endeavours?

    c) Should the constitution recognize post-independence internal challenges and conflicts?

    Theme 1: Founding Principles Of The Constitution: Founding principles are those values that citizens commit themselves to their adherence. They are the both the soul and the spine of the constitution and they reflect the manner in which the people desire to be governed.

    Talking Points/Key Questions

    a) Should the founding principles recognize the need to address the historical imbalances in the ownership and utilization of land and natural resources?

    b) Should the founding principles of the constitution recognize the irreversibility of the process of land reform having regard to the vision of the liberation struggle and the provisions of the GPA?

    c) Should the founding principles recognize and celebrate the struggle of the first Chimurenga, second Chimurenga and the struggle for democracy and the rule of law by Zimbabwean men and women?

    d) Should the founding principles of the constitution acknowledge diversity of religion?

    e) Should the constitution recognize matters like non racialism, good governance, gender equality, non tribalism, non discrimination, equal treatment before the law, accountability, adherence to the rule of law, peace and tranquillity?

    f) Should the constitution be the supreme law of Zimbabwe?

    g) Should the founding principles of the constitution recognize our cultural diversity, traditions and customs and their diversity?

    h) Should the founding principles acknowledge the national flag, national anthem and public seal?

    i) Should the founding principles of the constitution recognize our international relations with other countries?

    j) Should the founding principles of the constitution define by whom and how should hero status be conferred?

    k) Should the founding principles of the constitution recognize the calling for patriotism and loyalty to Zimbabwe?

    l) Should the founding principles of the constitution recognize the status of international treaties, conventions, and protocols and practices in our constitution?

    m) Should the founding principles of the constitution define the land question? If yes, what principles on land reform should be specified?

    n) Should the founding principles recognize the role and relevance of traditional institutions and customs in national development?

    Theme 2: Arms of the State (Principle of the Separation of Powers)

    There are three principal functions of the state, that is, making laws, interpretation of the laws and implementation of the laws. These are vested in the legislature, executive and the judiciary respectively.

    Talking Points/Key Questions [these are divided into three sections]

    Executive Arms of the State

    a) Should the principle of separation of powers be acknowledged in the Constitution?

    b) Who should be head of state? President or Prime Minister?

    c) Should the head of state also be the head of government?

    d) How should the head of state and/or government be chosen?

    e) What are the requirements for one to become head of state and/or head of government?

    f) Should there be term limits for the head of state and/or government?

    g) Under what circumstances should a head of state and/or head of government leave office?

    h) Should the constitution prescribe the maximum number of ministers?

    i) Who should act as head of state and/or government if the incumbent is unable to perform his/her duties?

    j) Should ministers be MPs?

    k) How should ministers be appointed?

    l) How should the Attorney General be appointed? Should he/she be a member of cabinet in particular? What should be his/her functions?

    m) Should we have an independent National Prosecuting Authority?

    Legislature - Houses of Parliament

    a) How many houses of parliament should we have?

    b) What should be the size(s) of the house(s) of parliament?

    c) How should members of parliament be elected or appointed?

    d) What role(s) should the house(s) of parliament play?

    e) Should MPs be allowed to cross the floor with their seats?

    f) Should any seats be reserved for women and/or special interest groups? If so how should they be selected?

    g) Should seats be reserved for traditional leaders? If so, how many?

    h) How long should be the life of parliament?

    i) Under what circumstances should an MP lose his/her seat?


    a) Who should appoint judges and judicial officers?

    b) How many levels of courts should we have?

    c) Do we need a separate Constitutional Court?

    d) What should be the qualification of judges?

    e) What should be the role of traditional courts?

    f) Who should determine the conditions of service of the judiciary?

    g) Who should be the head of the judiciary? How and by whom should he/she be appointed?

    h) Under what circumstances should a judge be removed from office?

    i) How long should be the tenure of office of judges?

    Theme 3: Systems of Government: Systems of government refer to the manner states are organized, that is, the distribution of political power and responsibility within the state. There are three major systems of governance in modern states. These are federations, unitary states and devolved states.

    Federal System: A federal system of governance obtains where two or more pre existing independent states agree to have one national government.

    Unitary System: A unitary system is where power is held by a single central government that controls all the political and administrative power with some devolution of power throughout the state.

    A Devolved System: Devolution is whereby political and administrative power is shared between a national government and lower level spheres of the state, for example, provinces and local authorities.

    Talking Points/Key Questions

    a) What systems of national government should Zimbabwe have?

    b) What relationships should exist between central government, provincial government, local government and traditional leadership?

    c) Who should lead provincial governments and how should they be chosen?

    d) How many provinces should Zimbabwe have? How should they be demarcated and named?

    e) If there are provincial and local governments, how should they be chosen?

    f) What should be the functions of provincial governments?

    g) Should all the different levels of government have a tax sharing system?

    h) Should traditional leaders be part of the national, provincial and local government structures?

    Theme 4: Citizenship and Bill of Rights

    Talking Points/Key Questions [these are divided into two sections]

    Citizenship: Citizenship is one’s membership of a country which a person gets because they were born in that country or their parents were born in that country, lived in that country or were registered in that country

    a) How should citizenship be acquired?

    b) Should dual/multiple citizenship be allowed?

    c) What are the rights and obligations of citizens and non-citizens?

    d) Should foreign spouses of citizens be entitled to Zimbabwean citizenship?

    Bill of Rights: A Bill of Rights sets out the rights and freedoms which all people in Zimbabwe are entitled to.

    a) What rights and freedoms should be contained and guaranteed in the constitution?

    b) Should the Bill of Rights be amendable? If so how should it be amended?

    c) What are the remedies that can be made available to a citizen who is aggrieved by the violation of their rights?

    d) Should the Bill of Rights contain separate and specific human rights and freedoms that relate to women in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women?

    e) Should it be permissible to suspend or limit rights during a state of emergency?

    f) Should the death penalty be retained?

    g) Should there be derogation from this Bill of Rights to redress historical imbalances for purposes of empowerment?

    h) Should the Bill of Rights apply to State as well as non State actors?

    i) Should a woman be allowed to marry another woman and a man to marry another man?

    j) What are the rights of children that should be protected in the constitution?

    Theme 5: Women and Gender Issues

    Talking Points/Key Questions

    a) Should men and women be treated equally in the constitution?

    b) Should the constitution contain provisions to ensure, guarantee and enforce gender mainstreaming?

    d) Should the constitution guarantee a quota system for women’s participation in politics and other decision- making public and private bodies?

    e) Should there be a gender commission? If so how exactly is it to be constituted

    Theme 6: Youth

    Talking Points/Key Questions

    a) Who are the youth in Zimbabwe? From what age to what age?

    b) Do we need a national body or commission for the youth? If so what should its composition, powers and functions, tenure/lifespan and funding be?

    c) Do we need national youth service? If yes should it be provided for in the constitution? And for what purpose?

    d) What specific rights of the youth should be guaranteed in the constitution?

    Theme 7: The Disabled

    Talking Points/Key Questions

    a) Should the disabled have the right to state protection?

    b) How can the Constitution guarantee Parliamentary representation for the disabled?

    c) How can the constitution ensure the full participation of disabled persons in all socio-economic and cultural activities of the communities?

    The talking points for the remaining themes are in Part II

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