News / Africa

One Year On, Zimbabwe's New Constitution Has Little Impact

FILE - President Robert Mugabe signs Zimbabwe's new constitution into law in Harare,  May 22, 2013.FILE - President Robert Mugabe signs Zimbabwe's new constitution into law in Harare, May 22, 2013.
x
FILE - President Robert Mugabe signs Zimbabwe's new constitution into law in Harare,  May 22, 2013.
FILE - President Robert Mugabe signs Zimbabwe's new constitution into law in Harare, May 22, 2013.
This week marks one year since Zimbabwe adopted a new constitution.  But the new charter has not done much in bringing a social and economic turnaround.

When President Robert Mugabe signed a new constitution into law last May, many Zimbabweans hoped years of turmoil, repression and economic misery were coming to an end.

However, little has changed in the one year since.  The economy shows few signs of life, President Mugabe remains in firm control of the government, and average Zimbabweans appear to have no greater rights than they did before.

Maddock Chivasa is spokesman of National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an organization that opposed the new constitution, saying it was a political document and not people-driven.  

“From the NCA perspective we don’t believe there is anything to celebrate about, if we take into consideration that in the first instance the constitution itself did not come from the people of Zimbabwe - it came from the politicians who were there in the government of national coalition the two MDC’s and ZANU-PF," he said.  "So when you look at several aspects in the constitution, you realize that most of the things that are there don’t identify with the general person, the ordinary person in Zimbabwe.  We can actually say we don’t have a constitution in Zimbabwe."

Patience Zirima from Media Alliance of Zimbabwe - an umbrella body of journalists - says reporters continue to be harassed despite the new constitution's guarantees of freedom of the press.

"Since the passing of the new constitution we have seen no commitment whatsoever to ensure that the provisions that are set, in terms of provision of access to information and freedom of expression, are being promoted in Zimbabwe," said Zirima.  "We also note that there is still a lot of criminalization of the media that remains; journalists being arrested.  So I think as the media sector at this point we have nothing to celebrate."

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party drafted the new constitution during its coalition with the now opposition Movement for Democratic Change.  The new charter - which replaced the one drafted on the eve of Zimbabwe’s independence from Great Britain in 1980 - was seen by many as having a strong bill of rights.

Pro-ZANU-PF political analyst Owen Gwara says the party had to include what he calls “alien” elements in the constitution, which he now thinks should be removed.

“We need to do a thorough Zimbabwean thing in our constitution.  So there is a lot which needs to be done and other laws to be changed.  Unfortunately some of the laws need to be repealed.  We need to sit down, revisit some of those laws,” said Gwara.

With a two-thirds majority in Zimbabwe's parliament, President Mugabe’s party can easily change the constitution or repeal laws seen as not in line with the charter.

On Thursday, Zimbabwe’s state media quoted the country’s junior justice minister, Fortune Chasi, saying the government had started aligning 400 laws with the new constitution.

But whatever it decides to do, some Zimbabweans still feel that nothing has changed.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid