Rural Zimbabweans In The Dark About Constitution

While the writing of the constitution is topical in most urban areas, with several organisations dedicating resources to constititutional outreach programmes, some rural dwellers in the Midlands Province, said they were still not sure of what will be taking place during the process and had not received any education.

The constitutional out-reach teams are set to start hearing people’s views on Tuesday.
Tambudzai Chigumira from Chironde Shurugwi said: “We have heard that we will be writing a new constitution but most of us do not really understand what this entails. We are not even sure what we are supposed to demand in the constitution because there has been no awareness raised about the issue,”  she said.

Chigumira said while they would want to participate in the writing of the constitution, they would want more information concerning this important project that Zimbabweans will embark on.

From Lower Gweru Sogwala area, Mark Sibindi said it would have been helpul if the Constitution Select Committee (COPAC) had given them literature about the process. He said this could have been done in vernacular languages for the benefit of those in the rural areas.

“We have heard from those that visit us from the cities about the constitution process but we only hear it in bits and pieces and we do not have full information on what is happening or how far the process is,” Sibindi said.

Asked whether there were non governmental organisations that were doing outreach programmes on the constitution in Sogwala, Sibindi said, “We have not heard of any non governmental organisation coming to talk about the constitution making process, the little that we have heard is from political parties mainly Zanu (PF) because it is the one which hold meetings regularly and which can hold them freely.”

Sibindi said that most people were still not comfortable to be seen going for the Movement for Democratic Change rallies. He however also expressed concern that the teaching from political parties was basically on what will benefit the political parties not what will be good for the people and country.

While the rural community still awaits to be educated on the constitution writing process, COPAC recently told journalists that they had received the necessary funding and would start the outreach process on June 15.

Copac also promised literature in 10 languages spoken in the country, including Braille and sign language, which they said was being prepared for use before and during the outreach.

But analysts said the literature in vernacular might get to the people late and they argued that information should have been availed before the outreach process.

The outreach team will visit 5 803places of the country’s 1935 wards in a process that is expected to be completed in 65 days.

Zimbabwe is expecting fresh elections next year with both Zanu (PF) and MDC having started campaigning.

However there are fears that the constituitional making process would be marred by violence, which has been reported in many parts of the country. In most rural areas, villagers have been warned to keep silent when the outreach teams come to their areas or risk death by Zanu (PF) activists who want the draft Kariba constitution adopted as it is. The draft constitution was endorsed by the three parties as part of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which saw the formation of the Inclusive government.