The Daily Agenda 21 July 2010

Matabeleland South- Sources in Matabeleland South said that for the first time since the start of the constitutional outreach meetings participants that gathered at Insiza primary school were unanimous that the country should use federalism as a system of governance.

They also said that the meetings went well and had a good turn out. Some of the prominent issues that were being raised by the participants included the freedom of expression, the rights of marginalised groups such as women, the youth and children. Sources added that the participants also called for two presidential terms while they were against the country having a Prime Minister. In the Matabeleland South province communities have been consistent on the issue of languages with many calling for all Zimbabwean languages to be included in the new constitution as official languages. The communities have also said that there need for indigenous languages to be taught in schools although there were variations on the levels to which these should end. Some of the participants said that these should go up grade three level, while some argued for grade seven and Ordinary level. Sources in the area also said that there is need to differentiate between the legal age of majority and the youth range with many noting that this has been largely confused. They said that the misunderstanding has resulted in communities proposing that the legal age at which people can start voting should be 25 years.

Matabeleland North- Outreach meetings that were scheduled for yesterday in the region have been postponed as people were not informed and some teams were said to have arrived late last night. The meetings that had been scheduled for Chunga Area were cancelled after members of the community failed to attend the meetings. The reasons however on the cancellations were not clear.

Mashonaland West- Meetings in Mashonaland West province began in earnest with most of the areas reporting a generally high turnout of participants. Participants in the area are reported to have called for an executive president in the country together with two vice presidents. In most of the areas the communities were against having a prime minister. In terms of systems of governance the communities want a unitary system. In the electoral process they called for a hybrid system that will have both proportional representation and first past the post. Observers in the province said that most participants seemed well versed with the issues that were being raised in the talking points indicating that they may have undergone vigorous drilling and education. They said that this can be noted which was also significantly very. Some of the key issues that were being observed from the area was the attendance of political leaders.

Midlands- The Midlands consultative meetings are going on as scheduled in Shurugwi District. As opposed to the previous meetings in other rural areas where most of the people were of common view hardly disagreeing on any issues, sources in the district have said that the opinions are becoming more and more varied with debates ensuing on a number of talking points. They also reported that this was particularly obvious in one of the meetings were there was equal distribution among the participants who called for a devolved system of governance and also for a unitary system. A popular view is that there should be two 5-year presidential terms. In Shurugwi, people are freer to air their views as compared to other areas to the extent that even those whose views are not very popular are able to argue their issues out. There are also a number of participants who want parliament to be able to recall the President in the event that they have lost faith in an individual. There was however divided opinion between those who want the office of the Prime Minister enshrined in the constitution and those who dont. Some members of the community said that the constitution should ensure that the land reform is irreversible while other members of the community advocated for a land audit. On the issue of the Reserve Bank, some were of the opinion that the Reserve Bank should be controlled by the Minister of finance and that the president should appoint the Governor of the Reserve Bank. The other view was that individuals should apply for the post of Governor of the Reserve Bank and the applicants should be vetted by parliament after which the president will make the final selection.

Bulawayo Agenda is a civil society organisation that conducts advocacy on issues of democracy. It is committed to providing an apolitical platform for people to express their views and debate on matters that affect their lives. It has active chapters in Gweru, Gwanda, Plumtree, Victoria Falls, Matopo, Hwange, Binga, Nkayi, Lupane and Tsholotsho.

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