An analysis of the working Draft Constitution

ZESN held a public meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the 26th of June 2012 with the topic: An Analysis of the Working Draft Constitution/COPAC process. They were four speakers representing the academia, civil society and women namely Dr. Charity Manyeruke, Dr. Alex Magaisa, Ms. Emilia Muchawa and Professor Lovemore Madhuku.

Dr A. Magaisa delivering his presentation during the public meeting
Dr A. Magaisa delivering his presentation during the public meeting

The major highlights were as follows:

• Dr. Charity Manyeruke highlighted that there is need to give up individual rights as the current constitution making process is engulfed with self interest of individuals, political parties and interest groups. She further stated that Constitutions are not written by the people but by those who wield power; the politicians. On devolution she commented that Devolution is a policy issue and therefore cannot be enshrined in the Constitution. She dismissed dual citizenship stating that economic benefits from those in the Diaspora are paltry.

• Dr. Alex Magaisa said that Zimbabwe will rightly develop its new constitution informed by the past, present and future aspirations of its people. He highlighted four key improved areas in the Working Draft Constitution such as the Bill of Rights, Citizenship, Separation of Powers and Elections. He reiterated that it was premature to say the process is flawed, as we the contents of the official draft are yet to be published, “let it be judged when it comes out” said Dr. Magaisa. He also saw a great need to deconstruct the contentious issue on Devolution which he regarded as an issue that has been misinterpreted to mean cession. Unlike Dr. Manyeruke he argued that devolution would be good for Zimbabwe.

• Ms. Emilia Muchawa highlighted that the Constitution of Zimbabwe which was adopted as part of the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement was a document which offers little opportunity for women. She applauded the working draft as she said after carrying out a Gender Audit of the Working Draft Constitution it can be safely said that 75% of women’s concerns had been included. However, she said that women felt that more could be done as there is no mention of gender parity in critical areas such as the security service and the judiciary. The women of Zimbabwe are demanding a constitution that guarantees more women in decision making positions through adoption of mechanisms such as a constitutional quota.

• Professor Madhuku maintained the NCA position that they would mobilize people for a NO vote to the new constitution as it believes that it is the outcome of the three political parties and is not driven by the people. He said that the political parties are in control of the process. He envisaged a scenario whereby the GPA principals might adopt the constitution without subjecting the draft to a Constitutional Referendum. He urged people to judge the COPAC draft on both the process and the content.

• COPAC was urged to intensify their dissemination of information on the process as the public is not aware of progress with the draft constitution.

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