By Ron Muvevererwa – The historic outreach constitution consultation process began across the country’s provinces a few weeks ago. It marks the first crucial first step of gathering people’s inputs on the various thematic areas set by the COPAC team towards the shaping of the supreme law in the land. What makes the entire process special is the fact that, it’s the first time that the people of Zimbabwe have been accorded a chance to write a home grown constitution since attaining independence from the British colonial rule in 1980. After attaining the country adopted the oppressive Lancaster house constitution which has been further doctored a record nineteen times to curtail people’s freedoms as the price to strengthen the strangle hold on power for the more than three decades old regime of ZANU.
It is with great regret that ROHR Zimbabwe has learnt that the constitution outreach process has been met with severe disturbances threatening the credibility of the outcome of the process. Reports of systematic intimidation campaigns, organized violence and life threats are the order of the day. Innocent families have fallen victim to the terror campaigns amidst recorded reports of people who have fled their homes after receiving threats of violence. Reliable information and reports received by ROHR Zimbabwe point to the fact that party supporters of the ZANU Pf party and their youth militia have hijacked the process to coerce people to endorse their narrow partisan stance culminated in the form of the infamous Kariba draft constitution.
What is more perplexing is the disgusting revelation that even the state agents and uniformed forces are implicated in the disturbances. Their underground dealings have given birth to systematic hugely sponsored campaigns to sway the people’s free will. Operations such as “Tisu tintaura We are the ones mandated to speak” and operation “Vhara muromo Close your mouth” have been deliberately hatched with the sole aim of scattering the progress of the COPAC exercise by barring certain sections of the society from exercising their legitimate rights because of their political affiliation.
ROHR Zimbabwe notes with growing agitation the spiralling reports of violence and intimidation surrounding the outreach constitution process. We reiterate that the unfolding evidence strongly vindicates the existence of the infrastructure, system and mechanisms of violence responsible for the 2008 terror campaign which claimed more than 200 innocent lives.
We further note that despite the coming into existence of the coalition government to promote unity, it is concerning that every national event which translates into people in putting their views ends up in a serious catastrophe violating the rights of the very people who are supposed to be the ultimate beneficiaries. We hold that the making of the constitution is an interest cross cutting agenda that should benefit all Zimbabweans and future generation to come regardless of political affiliation.
We do not condone the violation of people’s right to freedom of expression, assembly and association. It is no secret that the current constitution is undemocratic. Draconian legislation like POSA and AIPPA have necessitated a hugely defective constitution bent towards maintaining an oppressive system in power at the expense of the people. It is therefore only acceptable that people should be denied their rights to speak freely against a past legacy of authoritarianism by defining a new law that is in conformity with international human rights law governing the rights of the human family as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
ROHR Zimbabwe is against the manipulation of national events by political parties especially for sinister outcomes infringing on people’s rights as exhibited in the current disturbances besieging the COPAC exercise. Not to mention that it sends discarded signals to the international community during this time of transformation towards an ideal democratic society.
We strongly denounce the mindset of propaganda by some political parties of trying to hoodwink the entire nation holding people at ransom by masquerading as the sole liberator of the people from colonial rule. Placed in the right context, the liberation struggle was a lifetime achievement which united all Zimbabweans from different political divides. The selfless sweat and sacrificial blood of the sons and daughters who gallantly responded to national duty at the appropriate time ensured the extraordinary momentous feat of destiny. For too state institutions particularly the security forces and the media have been illicitly politicized and monopolized along partisan lines.
The coalition government stands reminded that human rights are not selective gifts bestowed upon the people at the pleasure of politicians or governments but that they are God given, universal, indivisible and inherited upon birth for the human family.