News / Africa

Zimbabwe's Constitutional Outreach Program Ends

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe delivers a speech ( Aug 2010 file photo)
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe delivers a speech ( Aug 2010 file photo)

In Zimbabwe, a significant portion of the multi-party political agreement that brought the power-sharing government to office last February mandated the people spell out what they wanted in a new constitution.  Part of the political agreement was concluded Sunday in Harare.  

Now in a power-sharing government with long-time rival, ZANU-PF, the Movement for Democratic Change says one of its supporters was attacked Saturday during a constitutional outreach meeting in Harare.

MDC says the man, Jonsaya Manyere, was stabbed and is fighting for his life in the hospital.  Police Assistant-Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena says the attack on Manyere took place more than an hour after the meeting had ended and after the public and police had dispersed.  He said the injured man will not give police any information about his attacker. The Harare outreach programs were postponed several weeks ago after a Movement for Democratic Change supporter was killed.  But most of last weekend's meetings, held in several places around Zimbabwe's capital were peaceful.

About 4,000 outreach meetings were held around the country in the past three months.  Public watchdog Veritas says more than 700,000 people have attended.

Some people believe attendance was low and say there were logistical and financial disruptions to the enormous project.  The MDC says ZANU-PF supporters disrupted some of the meetings.

Constatine Chipadza, who attended a meeting on Saturday, says he is worried about the low attendance by MDC supporters at these gatherings.

"On the constitutional process we have got a problem of apathy, not only in Harare, but all over the country.  The Movement for Democratic Change is not taking this thing seriously.  Only ZANU-PF is taking it seriously.  This thing needed to be advertised properly," Chipadza said.

Isaac Gumbo, 61, is enthusiastic about the outreach program.  He says the meeting he attended in a western Harare suburb was small and peaceful.  

"The attendance was average in terms of the place and the atmosphere was very conducive for the meeting.  There was no intimidation," Gumbo said. "All people from different parties were able to express their view.  Probably the attendance was not so huge because if the police are there the atmosphere becomes tense."

Organizers say the vast number of documents generated by public discussions will take several months to analyze.  After that, most political analysts believe a draft constitution will be negotiated between the Movement for Democratic Change and ZANU-PF.

June 30 of next year has been set as a tentative date for a referendum on the draft constitution.

President Robert Mugabe recently said that the inclusive government ends next February when it is two-years old, but observers say the political agreement that is the blueprint for this process does not spell out its life span.

The constitution, which was amended to allow the unity government, says Mr. Mugabe cannot dissolve parliament and call fresh elections without the consent of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs