News / Africa

Drafting of New Constitution to Begin in Zimbabwe

The charter is a major step toward new elections and ending the political crisis that followed controversial balloting in 2008.

Scene at stakeholders' conference in July 2009 to prepare for Zimbabwe's constitutional process
Scene at stakeholders' conference in July 2009 to prepare for Zimbabwe's constitutional process

Multimedia

Audio
Scott Bobb

The formal process of consulting the Zimbabwean people on a new constitution is to begin next week.  But civic groups for weeks have been training activists to educate communities about the new charter and how to propose ideas for it.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association coordinator Olivia Gumbo
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association coordinator Olivia Gumbo

The coordinator at the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, Olivia Gumbo, says her group wants a people-driven document.

"We are talking about the right to participate in the governance issues, the right to vote, the right to speak out your view and also the freedom of association," she said.

Minister for Constitutional Affairs Eric Matinenga is to administer the process.  He says 70 teams of 25 people each will hold popular consultations in each of the country's 210 voting districts.

"We are in the process of bringing into place a supreme law which we can all be proud of and which is going to govern us in a way which is different to what we have experienced," he said.

The teams will report their findings to 17 commissions specializing in a wide range of issues, such as human rights, elections and the justice system.

These commissions are then to draft the document, which will be submitted to the people in a referendum.

A new constitution is part of a power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF Party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The accord brought the two former rivals together in a unity government last February.  It was meant to end months of confrontation after controversial and sometimes violent elections in 2008.

The new constitution is to lead to fresh elections within two years.

But the process has been delayed by partisan antagonism and a lack of funds.

A stakeholders' conference in July to prepare for the process was disrupted by unruly delegates and was only held after the leaders intervened.

Differences have emerged through the years over various proposed drafts.  The country is still using the Lancaster House Agreement adopted prior to independence nearly 30 years ago.

A draft constitution backed by ZANU-PF was defeated in 2000 by MDC supporters and civic groups.

ZANU-PF and the MDC two years ago drafted another document during meetings in Kariba, northern Zimbabwe.  The MDC has since distanced itself from the Kariba Draft saying it is flawed.

But ZANU-PF's secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, says the Kariba Draft is the only way forward.

"The Kariba Draft is work done by members of the MDC and ZANU," he explained.  "And so we regard that as a piece of work that has originated from Zimbabweans of different political persuasions and so we feel that is what we should go on with."

The National Constitutional Assembly civic group objects to all of the drafts.  Its director, Lovemore Madhuku, says the process is flawed and that input is needed from all sectors of society.

"We do not expect that a process dominated by selfish politicians who are not moving because they are not agreeing on what they want to get.  The chance of that producing a constitution that is fairly reasonable is very low," he said.

He says his group, backed by trade and student unions, will likely campaign against passage of such a document in the referendum.  If successful they will then launch a new, grassroots-based process.

Zimbabwe University political science professor Eldred Masunungure says the long-standing political rivalries are a reason for the disputes.

"The outcome of the constitution-making will fundamentally change the political landscape," said Masunungure.  "It will mean loss of power for some and gaining power for others.  That is why it is such a friction-ridden process."

Activists like Gumbo say the political violence that accompanied the elections two years ago is still fresh in many people's minds and poses another obstacle.

"People are saying why are they coming to us with the constitution issue while we still have some wounds which need bandages.  That is why we are also talking about the national healing process," she added.

The power-sharing accord calls for a national healing-and-reconciliation program, but this has stalled because of a lack of funds and, some say, political will.

As a result, some analysts believe the constitutional process will take a long time.

A recent poll indicates many people are afraid that new elections will bring more violence, but most say they still want them held within two years.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid