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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Communique on the All Stakeholders' Constitutional Conference
    Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC)
    July 16, 2009

    On the 12th of July 2009, the accreditation process for the All Stakeholders Constitutional Conference began. The historic constitutional making process attracted political parties, Church denominations, civic society, business sector, traditional leaders, NGOs and other interests groups. The build up to this historic conference attracted the local and international media.

    What became obvious during the registration process was lack of adequate preparation by the Parliamentary Select Committee. The Parliamentary Select Committee was clearly overwhelmed by the numbers of delegates that trooped in for registration on the 12th of July 2009. Poor logistics in terms of the provision of food to delegates, allocation of accommodation and the chaotic process of accreditation on the eve of the conference clearly provided space for political emotions to erupt.

    On the 13th July 2009, the delegates gathered at the International Conference Centre at 0900 hours with high expectations. Sadly, the Parliamentary Select Committee was no where to be seen for almost three hours. The delay by the Parliamentary Select Committee to officially start the meeting led some political misguided elements to turn the whole event into a political rally. Some political activists among the delegates to the conference took it upon themselves to sing insulting political songs and sloganeering their party agendas.

    When the Parliamentary Select Committee finally appeared, political emotions were already high. The Master of Ceremonies surprisingly omitted the national anthem prompting some delegates to demand that it be sung. In the thick of events, some delegates started singing the national anthem though in an un-coordinated fashion. After singing the national anthem, normalcy seemed to have prevailed. As the Speaker of Parliament was delivering his opening remarks, some political activists suddenly erupted into song, dance, sloganeering and throwing some objects towards the Speaker of Parliament and those who sat in the high table. This action frustrated the address of the Speaker of Parliament. The disrespect and the contempt displayed toward the Speaker of Parliament, the entire people of Zimbabwe and the whole constitution making process shown by some sloganeering delegates is a shame, insensate and an embarrassment to the nation as a whole. It is apparently clear to us that the disruption of the Speaker of Parliament's address was clearly orchestrated to undermine the process of writing a people friendly constitution. As a result of the disruption of the Speaker of Parliament's address, the entire business of the conference grounded to a halt as most delegates hurriedly left the conference venue in fear.

    At about 5:30 pm, the Parliamentary Select Committee finally came out of their meeting and addressed delegates declaring that the conference would reconvene on the morning of the 14th of July 2009.

    It is with total regret that the Church in Zimbabwe found itself to be part of these embarrassing, dehumanizing, disgraceful and chaotic events that threaten the unity and peace offered under the Global Political Agreement and more-so by the process of a people friendly constitution. To make matters worse, the events of the 13th of July were watched by the whole world which had anticipated good coming out of the conference.

    As the conference re-opened on the 14th of July 2009, the security organs of the state were visible all over to maintain peace. The screening process allowed officially accredited delegates into the conference venue. Those delegates who attended the conference conducted themselves well and the agenda of the conference proceeded without any disruption. The presenters on thematic areas carried out their job demonstrating their professionalism.

    We note with great concern the poor catering services during lunch times at the conference which did not reflect the Zimbabwean hospitality. There was lack of planning in terms of handling re-imbursements and refunds related to both transport and food expenses incurred by delegates. We noted with disgust that some delegates were refunded for flying, driving while others were given a flat figure of US$40 as transport reimbursement regardless of where they came from without considering the distance travelled.

    We the Zimbabwe Council of Churches exercising our prophetic responsibility, unreservedly deplore:

    a) The unruly behaviour of those political activists who disrupted the proceedings of the 13th of July 2009 as counter-productive, unreasonable, divisive, intimidatory and unhelpful to a nation that has known tension and pain when we should be building a country that our posterity would be proud of.
    b) The failure of those political leaders who were present in the conference to call to order their party activists
    c) The poor planning for the All Stakeholders Constitutional Conference.

    We commend:

    a) The principals to the Global Political Agreement for coming out clear in condemning those who disrupted the proceedings of the All Stakeholders Constitutional Conference.
    b) The Parliamentary Select Committee for resolving that the All Stakeholders Constitutional Conference should continue in-spite of the attempts to derail it.
    c) The official delegates for their patience and determination to continue with the process despite the threat from those who disrupted the proceeding of the 13th of July.

    We therefore demand that:

    a) The political leadership must put mechanisms to deal with those activists that disrupted the conference in terms of their party disciplinary measures.
    b) All political parties should make sure that their supporters respect the Constitutional making process by refraining from singing their party songs and sloganeering or engaging in other forms of disruptive behaviour.
    c) The Parliamentary Select Committee immediately brings in people from the Church and civic society to the management committee.
    d) The media must refrain from biased reporting and present facts as they are.
    e) The principals of the Global Political Agreement make sure that the processes provided for under the Global Political Agreement are respected and fully carried out.
    f) In future reimbursements should be done in consultation with all stakeholders involved.

    We call upon all Christians and people of good-will to desist from glaring partisan behaviour and engage in prayer, forgiveness, reconciliation, healing and peace building as we seek to make our national constitution.

    View the Zimbabwe Council of Churches fact sheet

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