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constitution making process: A WOZA perspective
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
May 14, 2009
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) has consulted with members over the
last few weeks on the constitutional reform process initiated by
Article 6 of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) and recognise the opportunity to play
a role in making this process result in a truly democratic Zimbabwe.
WOZA has already been involved in joint civic society discussions
on these developments and will continue to take part in a coordinated
response. We are prepared to participate fully in the process but
do so under protest as we feel there are serious shortcomings in
the procedures articulated in the GPA.
Zimbabweans were not consulted and did not input into the 15 September
2008 Global Political Agreement. It may therefore prove inadequate
as a tool of creating a truly people-driven constitution.
Constitutional Amendment 19 went further in providing wide-ranging
direction and oversight role to the Parliament of Zimbabwe, which
makes the constitutional process subject to political party control.
- Whilst we
acknowledge that the people voted for Members of Parliament and
Senators and recognise that they can be expected to represent
the views of the people in their constituency, constitution making
should be an inclusive process. It is a given that the whole nation
needs to take ownership of their right to determine how they are
governed. At the very least, elected representatives need to conduct
public meetings to hear the views of the people in their constituencies
in open and direct discussion rather than making unilateral decisions
on our behalf.
- Most importantly
however, we feel that there is no real operating climate for full
enjoyment by citizens of all their freedoms of expression and
assembly. There continues to be flagrant disregard for the rule
of law, politically motivated and indiscriminate arrests and detentions
and a climate of fear remains. Citizens need a tangible sign that
they will be able to meet and debate without harassment before
a truly meaningful process can be embarked upon.
that Zimbabweans have long dreamed of their very own constitution,
not a temporary arrangement that the Lancaster House Constitution
was supposed to be. Instead of getting a truly people-driven process
in 1987, the constitution was changed to become a one-party state.
In 2000, they wanted to change it again to give the president even
more executive powers. We voted NO because we wanted less concentration
on executive powers. We have had too many false starts and still
need to complete this reform process and come up with a constitution
we can be proud of.
believe that it is better to light a single candle than to complain
about the darkness. In this spirit and committed to the constitutional
reforms outlined in the WOZA
People's Charter and reaffirmed in the Zimbabwe
People's Charter, we will fully participate in order to
ensure people are able to input into this most important of documents.
We will contribute despite the threat of arrests and detentions.
We will meet any attempts to disrespect our views with 'tough
We will take
the step towards a fresh process with commitment and vigour, eager
to vote in a referendum for a new constitution. We are impatient
to arrive at the day we can vote in a free and fair election conducted
in terms of the provision of that new democratic constitution so
that we can complete the change and get on with our lives.
for a participatory process
Below we have
outlined recommendations that we believe will ensure that the process,
despite its inauspicious beginnings, could be truly participatory.
1. The letter
and spirit of the GPA is packed with rhetoric about gender equality
but in deed the power-sharing government has been found lacking.
We therefore request meaningful participation by women, and not
just any women. Women who are known to engage and consult and represent
our issues, in all constitutional processes. This includes members
of subcommittees, be they technical; related to drafting; consulting
or logistics. In addition the public face of the consultative process
must be gender balanced. There should be equal amounts of women
chairing and presenting in all meetings.
sessions for women only should be provided for as women have long
been marginalized in Zimbabwean society. They have a unique contribution
to make to dignify our nation.
3. The youth
are now a stolen generation, devoid of hope and opportunity. We
also recommend that special sessions for under-25 year olds be convened.
Having their own sessions will boost their confidence that they
also have a place in rebuilding the nation.
4. There needs
to be a transparent process in the selection of civic society representatives
in the subcommittees. We need committee members with clear roles
and responsibilities. They should also be people with a clear understanding
of constitutional issues rather than being politically loyal. We
would be well represented by those who have constituencies. Committee
members must be accountable to their constituencies and hold consultative
and report back meetings to make the process truly participatory.
5. We want
freedom of expression and freedom after expression. To ensure this
right is respected, police, both uniformed and non-uniformed, must
undergo training on issues of public order so that they do not interfere
in our right to meet and debate. Any officer who is unable to be
professional and respect civil rights must be dismissed. See GPA
Article 12.1(b) - Freedoms of Assembly and Association and Article
13.2(a) - State organs and institutions.
needs to be all-inclusive and so broad communication is essential.
Public hearings and consultations with public must be advertised
well in advance not only on television and in print media but also
by alternative media so that all communities are advised and can
7. For the
process to be as inclusive as possible we would like to see the
select committee promoting the need for, and accepting, written
submissions from both individuals and organisations, from within
Zimbabwe and without. We recommend numerous acceptance points for
such submissions, for example email, text messages or suggestion
boxes. More weight should be attached to identified submissions
rather than anonymous contributions but we these communication tools
would nonetheless have been used to stimulated debate.
8. With the
manipulation of information being the issue that derailed previous
attempts at constitutional reform, we therefore suggest that: the
process of compiling opinions obtained during public consultation
be transparent and include checks to prevent suppression of "unwanted"
views. A summary of views should be published before the drafting
of constitution is done.
9. It is said
the devil is in the detail. We require that there be civic society
representatives within the drafting sub-committee. They will participate
in conducting a complementary recording and drafting role.
10. To mobilise
Zimbabweans to keep control of the process, a 'Draft Monitoring
and Observer Working Group' should be formed to provide civilian
oversight and real-time reporting on content obtained from meetings.
They will also provide early warning that the process or content
is being hijacked. This Working Group will post reports on the website
for historical proof of contributions. Should the process become
a victim of the hidden hand of political expediency, proof will
be available to mobilise a NO vote.
11. WOZA wish
to receive an invitation to attend the all stakeholders' conferences.
We also require the opportunity to input into planning of objectives,
agenda and format. We want to see an acceptable process for the
stakeholders' conferences, by which the agenda is not controlled
by the select committee.
12. It is vital
that the draft constitution be made available well before the second
stakeholder's conference so that we are able to audit it to
see if all views are considered and how it compares to the published
13. At the second
stakeholders conference we will expect a report by the drafting
subcommittee explaining why they have chosen specific formulations
over others. This is to ensure the committee can be accountable
for consideration of all views.
14. It is a
given that a draft will be prepared from public input. Parliament
must not amend the draft; rather debate it for clarification of
certain aspects. Should Parliament wish to alter some formats or
contributions, they must be required to come back to the all stakeholders'
conference to present their views for ratification by the stakeholders.
15. The Independent
Electoral Commission should be replaced by a genuinely independent
commission to restore confidence in voting procedures. We expect
the referendum to be conducted by an outside neutral body with independent
expertise, as it is important to avoid further poll disputes.
have long been marginalized by not being issued with documentation.
The power-sharing government must make a special effort to redress
this injustice. In the meanwhile, every citizen under the Amendment
19 criteria should be allowed to vote in the referendum with either
their identity document or passport, without drawing up a new voters
roll. In addition, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora should be allowed
to vote so they feel included in the future of their country.
17. The power-sharing
government must take cognisance of our impatience to exercise our
full democratic rights under a new constitution. We therefore demand
clear timelines as to the next election following the referendum
process as both the GPA and Amendment 19 is silent on this timeline.
We do not expect any timelines to be shifted by more than two months.
As stated above,
WOZA is fully committed to participating in the constitution-making
process that has been initiated by the GPA. Nonetheless, we have
serious reservations about the procedures as outlined in Article
6 as we do not believe that they are inclusive enough. We also recognise
that these procedures are predisposed to excessive control by politicians.
Whilst we are prepared to give members of our new government the
benefit of the doubt, we are aware that Zimbabweans have been badly
let down by politicians in the past. Together with our partners
in civic society, we do not intend to sit back and quietly allow
them to minimise the participation of the very people in whose name
they claim to be writing the constitution.
We have clearly
outlined recommendations above that we feel are minimum requirements
for WOZA's participation. We are determined to advocate for
the implementation of these recommendations at every given opportunity
and reserve the right to review the nature of our participation
should the environment become untenable.
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