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MISA-Zimbabwe statement on constitutional amendments
August 12, 2005
joins the increasing number of voices calling for a people-driven
consultative process to revamp the Constitution of Zimbabwe as opposed
to the government’s piece-meal approach on what is obviously a serious
issue of national concern.
It is MISA-Zimbabwe’s
strong view that the public hearings being conducted by the Parliamentary
Legal Committee are at best ad hoc and will not be representative
of the wishes of the Zimbabwean masses without the inclusion of
all Zimbabweans, interest groups and civic society organisations.
The issue of
Constitutional reforms is one that deserves collective discourse
through a transparent, all-encompassing and independent Commission,
which will be better placed to receive the views of Zimbabweans
without fear or favour.
This would entail
revisiting the contents of the rejected Draft Constitution of 2000
as well as concerns raised by civic society organisations during
the 2000 process which resulted in the referendum rejection of the
the rejected document, the government will demonstrate that it is
willing to respect and embrace the democratic aspirations of its
citizens through a people-driven and people-owned process.
should culminate in a justiceable Bill of Rights that will secure
and entrench our basic rights and freedoms in conformity with international
standards and deliver the killer punch against draconian laws such
as AIPPA, POSA, Broadcasting Services Act, Criminal Law (Codification
and Reform) Act and the Official Secrets Act among others.
In saying this
MISA-Zimbabwe is firmly guided by the universally recognised position
that an unfettered media is the sine quo non to the enjoyment of
freedom of expression as it fosters a culture of accountability,
transparency and good governance.
is cognisant of the fact that Section 20 of Zimbabwe’s Lancaster
House-negotiated Constitution does not specifically guarantee freedom
of the press, a void that the Supreme Court noted in 2003 when it
upheld AIPPA to be constitutional.
We take note
that because of this constitutional deficit, four newspapers have
been closed and scores of journalists arrested as they could not
be protected by the obviously flawed and outdated Lancaster House
The right to
freedom of expression and inevitably that of the press, is a fundamental
right without which all other freedoms will be illusory - difficult
to attain and express.
As a freedom
of expression advocacy and lobby group, MISA-Zimbabwe, therefore,
insists that a new democratic Constitution should include a constitutional
guarantee that expressly recognises and protects freedom of the
process is anaemic and heavily flawed as it falls far too short
of meeting the democratic aspirations and expectations of the people
The issue of
the Bill of Rights viewed against the backdrop of the tremendous
Executive powers vested in the Head of State, are key to a democratic
Constitution which respects and protects freedom of speech, media
freedom, free conscience and thought.
Short of that,
MISA-Zimbabwe is of the strong view that the government is putting
the cart before the horse by embarking on a process that the people
of Zimbabwe will not be proud to be associated with especially as
it comes on the back of the rejection of the 2000 draft document.
that constitutional reform is too important an issue to be left
to one political party simply because it commands a majority in
parliament. Constitutional reform must benefit all Zimbabweans regardless
of political or religious affiliation, economic status, colour or
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