Back to Index
the churches help prevent Zimbabwe-s road to reform becoming
another dead end?
April 28, 2011
On 27 April 2011, the International Crisis Group (ICG) released
a report titled, 'Zimbabwe:
The Road to Reform or Another Dead End?- The report offers
a sobering evaluation of politics in Zimbabwe since the Global
Political Agreement (GPA). It also raises concerns that the
next election and a possible referendum on a new constitution -
when these happen - could be marred by violence.
The report cites evidence
that violence and intimidation have been increasing of late, even
though it is not yet certain that an election or a referendum will
be held this year. The ICG sees ZANU-PF as the main culprit in cultivating
this culture of violence, although MDC-T and MDC-M do not emerge
from the report unscathed.
One might sum
it up this way: Zimbabwe-s political parties are letting the
people down, yet again. Of
course, the political and economic challenges facing Zimbabwe are
formidable - the politicians don-t have an easy job. But there
is a sense, from this report and from the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops
Conference pastoral letter, Let us Work for the Common Good (analysed
previously on this blog), that there really is a lack of political
will to do what is best for all the citizens of the nation.
Most of The
Road to Reform or Another Dead End? examines the stalled constitution-making
process. It is already widely recognized that this process has been
flawed. Indeed, this was noted in a statement released in February
by the Zimbabwe
Council of Churches (ZCC), the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops-
Conference (ZCBC) and the Evangelical
Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), which said:
'All aspects of
the Global Political Agreement should be fully implemented before
an election is held. We also call on the Southern Africa Development
Community (SADC), the guarantors of the GPA, to ensure that the
agreement is fully implemented accountably and timeously. The Church
is ready and willing to facilitate and support dialogue between
the Principals and political parties to ensure the resolution of
the outstanding issues.
This Constitution making
process should ensure that the views of the people are respected.
It should also take cognizance of some flaws in the outreach process
that might have subverted the views of the people in some areas.-
The ICG report
also recognizes that civil society groups should be more fully involved
in crafting a new constitution. I assume this includes churches
although they are not named explicitly in the text of the report.
Further, it seems the input of religious actors might be welcomed
(or at least not opposed) by the Select Committee of Parliament
on the new constitution (COPAC), which included 'Religion-
among its 18 talking themes for discussion during the constitutional
But time may be running
out. The ICG report states (p. 18):
constitution-making process is now in the critical drafting stage.
Thousands of inputs at COPAC meetings and other submissions are
supposed to be collated and analysed by the thematic committees
during April and May. These are then to be fashioned into a draft
for presentation to the second all-stakeholders conferences in July
Does this mean that the
churches and other civil society groups might have missed their
chance to contribute to the process? Is there anything that they
can do now?
In reflecting on this,
I-m brought back to the statement I quoted earlier from the
ZCC, ZCBC and EFZ, warning that the constitution-making process
'should also take cognizance of some flaws in the outreach
process that might have subverted the views of the people in some
Could the churches have
a role to play in collecting and publicizing the views of those
who have been purposely and effectively silenced during the consultation
process on a new constitution?
In addition, the ICG
report does not raise the issues of national healing and reconciliation.
Perhaps this is because 'healing- and 'reconciliation-
cannot be achieved via a constitutional guarantee.
But it is important to
remember that much of the real work of nation-building happens at
the grassroots, as Joram Tarusarira reminds us in an earlier blog
post. In Zimbabwe that will mean much work among people who have
been traumatized by long-term political violence.
Does Zimbabwe need a
constitutional guarantee that its government will prioritize the
needs of victims of violence and the reconciling of opposing groups,
at least during a transitional phase? Can the churches provide ethical
and theological guidance on why this might be for the greater good
of the nation?
Ganiel is a lecturer in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation at
Trinity College Dublin at Belfast
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.