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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Constitution making awareness focusing on unimportant issues
    Arkmore Kori
    May 05, 2010

    Zimbabwe is being administered by an undemocratically elected government largely because of some constitutional challenges that have made elections worthless. Of course, we already know the election 'winner- if elections are held under the present constitution. Thus the current constitutional making process was mainly conceived to allow for free and fair elections so Zimbabweans would be governed by leaders of their choice.

    Despite a lot of resources being channelled towards new constitution making, it is unfortunate that two relatively trivial issues, homosexuality and gender, which can-t retrieve us from our leadership and governance crisis, have dominated the constitutional awareness campaigns.

    Although most claim homosexuality is alien to Africa, there is evidence it was practiced in Buganda (now Uganda) in the 19th century particularly by Kabaka Mwanga who assumed kingship (or Kabakaship) at the age of eighteen in 1884. This is no justification for legalising homosexuality in the new constitution because who should care what people do behind closed doors? By and large, homosexuality is a bedroom issue, which does not influence the leadership and governance in this country.

    Similar concerns can also be raised on gender, which is repossessing the fame it had soon after its invention, although gender sensitive legislation such as the Domestic Violence Act have been passed. Perhaps gender activists are justified to complain about gender legislative implementation and of course, more and more women opportunities, regardless of competence. But constitutional advocacy for women-s rights have been used to shroud discussions on the main issues as if the new constitution is largely intended to address gender imbalances.

    Among others, the current constitution gives the Executive too much power. This has stifled democracy, good governance and the rule of law. The President-s power to appoint the Attorney General and the Chief Justice, for example, has compromised the judiciary-s independence and consequently, election processes and outcomes.

    The release of the March 2008 election results, for instance, were unlawfully and deliberately delayed. Court appeals by the opposition were ignored. Political activists have been incarcerated and arbitrarily arrested whilst some have been tortured or murdered by known people who have never been prosecuted because the judiciary has not yet been given the instruction by its proprietor.

    Similarly, one would expect discussions on the Access to Information and Privacy Act (AIPPA) to top the constitutional discussion agenda ahead of gender or homosexuality. The electronic media has been a monopoly of the ruling party, and has enabled it to spread its election propaganda at the expense of other political parties. Its polarization and the extent to which its owners dislike a new constitution have been shown by the absence of constitutional awareness information on both radio and television. If 'station identification songs- were composed for Fast Track Land Reform Programme and bearer cheques awareness raising, why can-t the same be done for the new constitution?

    This prejudice is augmented by the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which has seen major election meetings of the opposition being indefinitely postponed or called off. Historically, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been fearless to take up such 'sensitive- issues. Unfortunately they are receiving binding instructions from the state controlled community entry points. Permission into communities for constitutional discussions is given on condition NGOs and communities do not talk about anything concerning the Executive-s dictatorial powers, President-s term of office; the Kariba Draft, AIPPA, and POSA. Possibly, this is why some have turned to 'soft- issues such as gender and homosexuality.

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