Category Archives: Publications

29 November is Women Human Rights Defenders Day

WOZA calls on Zimbabweans to beat the drum of peace and development to break the silence on violence

WOZA joins the rest of the world’s activists in campaigning for an end to gender-based violence in the year 2013. To mark the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, the organisation chose to look beyond the sphere of physical violence to consider the position of women in a society which perpetrates systemic violence and socio-economic disadvantage. Violence against women includes the range of abuses committed against women that stem from gender inequality and women’s subordinate status in society relative to men.

WOZA, an organisation of human rights defenders campaign against violence in all its forms all year long, but chose to march on women human rights defenders day 29 November 2013 to raise the profile of this special day. WOZA will march the same route they marched on this day in 2006 to launch their peoples charter. On this day over a hundred members were beaten and arrested, broken limbs of adults and a baby the brunt of police baton sticks.

To mobilise for this special day, WOZA conducted a survey amongst a total of 7 180 of its members, with 6 428 being women, to investigate their perceptions of women’s position in their communities. Special attention was paid on whether women’s economic status was improving or deteriorating. Members were asked to comment on a series of statements arrived at as a result of the discussion around the ZANU PF Elections theme, the “Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset) and the continuing engendered analysis of development on how women were fulfilling their role in their homes and in society. Since the universal 16 Days of activism campaign calls for more substantial responses on the part of governments to act with due diligence in protecting and preventing gender-based violence, members were also required to give comments regarding benefits from government development programmes.

The results were clear. 81% of WOZA Harare and Bulawayo members do not believe that women are respected and do not believe that violence against them has ceased. 89% of member do not believe that they will be able to benefit from the ZANU PF’s indigenization policies, and 68,2% expressed that the police harassment and criminalization of women informal traders must stop for socio economic growth but many called for job creation as an alternative. All believed that women were working very hard to create food security for their families, but many noted that this was done against all odds. The vast majority believe the development situation in their communities had deteriorated. They do not believe that ZANU PF will implement the new constitution effectively.

The responses show great disillusionment with and distrust of government and a keen sense of the disadvantages felt by women in spite of their hard work to provide for their families. The scars that women bear today are not just a result of physical violence but are deep rooted in years of poor governance by the state, emotional and psychological manipulation in the home, community and workplace as well as deliberate marginalization of women in all spheres of life. It does not need to be physical violence for women to bear the scars of abuse. In a list of demands contained in the report, WOZA members demand Free primary education was promised, but children are still chased away from school due to non-payment of fees; A programme and funding plan for the better roads promised by the president in his inauguration speech and an initial position was taken against the proposed urban toll gate project. Members also demand land, inputs and to be shared equally among men and women and in a non partisan framework.

Moreover, women and youth are waiting for the re-opening of industries to create employment and the detailed plan as to how these firms will create 2 million jobs with a living wage as promised during campaigns. The same group of citizens demand income generating projects for women and these projects should be distributed in a non partisan system. The vulnerable and the disadvantaged in communities, such as the elderly, the orphans, disabled and widowed are still suffering and being made to complete food aid forms to no avail. WOZA members demand home ownership; city council should build homes for people and there should be transparency in the distribution of stands. Residents are tired of being lodgers and paying high rentals. Last but not least, they demand the ZimAsset programme to urgently provide affordable and nutritious home grown food and to put women first in all the ZimAsset implementation programmes WOZA made additionally recommendations on a number of premises that include devolution, activation of the constitution, working public institutions, community involvement, civic education, as well as justice and fairness.

See the full report on our website at the following link WOZA Report Zim beat the drum of peace and development to break the silence on violence

WOZA applaud the constitution drafting team for a good first effort

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) applaud the drafting team for the work they have done on the draft of the Constitution and encourage them to swiftly deal with parked issues and submit the draft to the second stakeholder’s conference without further delay.

WOZA has continuously engaged its members to debate constitutional issues and in December 2010 released a report capturing the responses of members to the Constitutional Outreach questions to the 26 thematic areas prepared by the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC). The report followed a 15 month consultative and civic education process. This work captured the views of urban and rural members numbering 10 361 (9213 women and 1148 men) from the ages of 14 to 93 years were included.

WOZA recognize that this work demanding constitutional reform has paid dividends as we see some of our demands reflected in the draft. We welcome in particular the following positive inclusions:
• Justiciable rights, including socio-economic rights
• Prohibition of discrimination against women on the basis of customary law
• A single executive head of state, eliminating the prime minister position
• A limit of two terms on the President • Provision for proportional representation in the National Assembly and the Senate
• Down-grading the Attorney- General to legal advisor of the government and establishment of an independent prosecuting authority
• Independent Electoral Commission to take control of voter registration and the voters’ roll
• Appointments of key personnel and commissioners of independent commissions on the recommendation of a Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee, which will subject candidates to public interviews
• Requirements for all public officers to declare all their assets at regular intervals
• Depoliticisation of the public service, judiciary, and security sector
• Amendment only by means of a referendum

We regret the following provisions of the draft:
• Presidential immunity while in office – this puts the incumbent above the law
• Lack of maximum age limit for the President
• The large size of the National Assembly – we cannot afford such extravagance
• The large size of the Cabinet – we would prefer to cap it at 200.
• The inclusion of chiefs in the Senate – if they belong anywhere it is in the Provincial Assemblies
• The inclusion of the TRC only as a transition mechanism and permitting it to grant immunity in exchange for confessions

We are deeply concerned that the following issues are yet to be resolved:
• Devolution of power to elected Provincial and Local Authorities; these must be a mainstay of our democracy which brings government closer to the people, decentralising decision-making and control of resources
• The matter of number of Vice Presidents – we obviously only need and can only afford one and cannot be swayed by ZANU PF internal politics
• The number of seats in the national Assembly and the Senate
• The issue of dual citizenship

Whilst WOZA is happy that some progress has been made we are concerned that this draft leaves hanging a key demand of Devolution of power. The whole Chapter 14 ‘Provincial and Local Government’ is parked and WOZA are concerned that the negotiation process must not be made public.

As the first draft is being rewritten we expect these issues to be addressed and place on record that we will be watching closely that the letter and spirit of the reform process remains true to the needs of Zimbabweans.

WOZA applaud the progress, but are worried about the principals putting ego before principle. We call on them to suppress their egos and allow the parked issues to be urgently resolved. WOZA especially call on the MDC who claim to represent the majority of Zimbabweans to refuse to concede on the issues of Devolution; they have conceded enough already; any more will constitute a form of betrayal.

WOZA will be watching and will not stand by and allow politicians to hold the process hostage for the sake of political survival or greed for power at all costs.

WOZA call on members of the press to realize that this a pivotal moment in our history and report responsibly on content and process without sensationalizing issues. Zimbabweans need hope that the new constitution will bring a new era of dignity, respect and tolerance.

We look forward to the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference which will provide feedback to the drafting team and recommend changes/ alterations before the final draft is presented to parliament and gazetted. We will resist any attempt to fast-track this process.

WOZA call upon the international community led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) who funded the outreach process to make sure that organisations are permitted to conduct civic education on the draft in a free environment allowing meetings and discussions. WOZA therefore call upon the principals and leaders of all political parties to demand the immediate enforcement of the GPA requirement on ensuring the security of persons.

WOZA also demand an immediate end to politicisation of the judiciary and security forces and an end to police and military occupation of our streets and a direct attempt to abuse our right to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly and expression!

WOZA is aware that a constitution by itself cannot bring change. Change will only come if there is political will to implement a constitution. It will be the responsibility of all Zimbabweans to ensure that their politicians are committed to implementing any constitution approved by the voters. WOZA commits to taking all appropriate measures to ensure that our new constitution reflects the desire of Zimbabweans for peace and democracy.

Note: The report was entitled: The Rising of the women means the rising of the nation – No more poverty and starvation, many sweating for a few to benefit. http://wozazimbabwe.org/wp- content/uploads/2010/11/woza-presentation-to-copac-291110.pdf

WOZA and MOZA commemorate International Women Human Rights Defenders Day with march in Bulawayo

WOZA members marching in Bulawayo with their demands for new constitution
WOZA members marching in Bulawayo with their demands for new constitution

At noon today, approximately 900 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise marked International Women Human Rights Defenders Day with a peaceful procession to the offices of the state-owned Chronicle newspaper in Bulawayo. No arrests have been reported as yet but as there is a visible police presence in central Bulawayo, this may change.

Jenni Williams, WOZA’s National Coordinator was briefly detained by a senior-ranking police officer during the march but was later released after a discussion about its legality. Williams insisted that Zimbabweans have the right to peaceful protest under the current constitution. Williams was also roughly jostled by the female officer during this exchange, resulting in the aggravation of an existing back condition that Williams has.

The aim of the peaceful procession was to launch WOZA’s consulted position on the COPAC constitution questions. The report is entitled ‘the rising of women means the rising of the nation – no more poverty and starvation, many sweating for a few to benefit’. A copy of the report is available below.

Five groups started from different locations in the city centre and converged on the offices of the Chronicle. The peaceful group sang as they marched and handed out copies of their views on the constitutional questions. Their songs included the lyrics, “there is an issue that we want to make public – our views on the constitution” and “as women we must rise up and stand firm for our views so that our country can improve”.

WOZA began a 15-month civic education process around the constitution in July 2009 involving the participation of 9,036 members (7,885 females and 1,151 males) in a phased training programme that culminated in a consultation around the COPAC questions, the responses to which have been included in the report. Participants were drawn from 37 urban areas in Bulawayo and Harare and 23 rural areas in Matabeleland and Mashonaland. The age range of these participants was 14 to 93 years.

The report has been formally submitted to COPAC. The procession today is the first in a series of peaceful marches designed to ensure the views of members are heard, respected and will be included in the draft constitution. Members selected The Chronicle offices as a target in their fight to pressure for free media and to express solidarity with the arrest and extended detention of Nqobani Ndlovu, a Bulawayo-based journalist.

29 November is a significant date for WOZA. It is International Women Human Rights Defenders Day and part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. Furthermore, on 29 November 2006, hundreds of members were brutally beaten in Bulawayo and many arrested whilst peacefully launching the WOZA People’s Charter.

Whilst recognising the importance of the 16 Days of Activism, WOZA would like to insist that 365 days of the year be considered days of activism against gender violence. At no time, is violence against any individual acceptable.

This protest follows a victory for WOZA in the Supreme Court last week.  On Friday 26th, Justice Garwe, the Supreme Court judge of appeals, handed down a ruling on the 2008 challenge taken by WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. The verbal ruling granted that the two women had been wrongfully arrested and detained and, as a result, had their rights and fundamental freedoms violated. Justice Garwe also ruled that the state had failed to protect the activists from this abuse. The application for a repealing of section 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act was dismissed and the reason will be made available. More details are available below.

To read a full copy of the report submitted to COPAC, please click here: WOZA presentation to COPAC 29.11.10

ZESA Four finally released

WOZA members arrest themselves in solidarity outside ZESA headquarters in Harare
WOZA members arrest themselves in solidarity outside ZESA headquarters in Harare

The four WOZA members arrested on Thursday outside ZESA headquarters, Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa and Celina Madukani, have finally been released from police custody after spending five nights in cells. The Attorney General’s office refused to press charges against the four women due to lack of sufficient evidence. The women did not appear in court as defence lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, spoke directly with the Attorney General’s office. Officers from the Law and Order Department at Harare Central had tried to force the women to pay ‘admission of guilt’ fines on Saturday to ‘buy’ their freedom. WOZA will now being suing the Zimbabwe Republic Police for wrongful arrest and detention.

The four women endured hellish conditions in the cells – the worst that these veteran activists who have been detained on numerous occasions have ever seen. All women require medical treatment for a rash all over their bodies and diahorrea due to the filthy conditions and flu symptoms from the cold conditions. Their bodies also ache from being forced to sit and sleep on cold concrete for six days.

The corridors and floor of the female cells were covered in urine and human faeces due to blocked toilets and only sporadic water supply. The women were also initially subjected to verbal abuse from police officers until the nonviolent activists refused to accept the abuse. By the end of their detention however, many officers were supportive. What is clear is that police officers also have to work in these inhuman and degrading conditions.

The human rights defenders can also testify to the large-scale corruption being practiced in the cells. Bribery is rife; with bribes being paid by prisoners to secure their speedy release from the horrific conditions. The sale of mbanje (marijuana) is also commonplace.

WOZA is relieved that the four women have finally been released and would like to thank all friends and supporters that phoned the police station or communicated their support. Jenni, Magodonga, Clara and Celina appreciate the solidarity. Nonetheless, WOZA would also like to express outrage at their detention for six days in horrendous conditions when police officers knew that there was insufficient evidence. This malicious harassment of human rights defenders is continued evidence that very little has changed in Zimbabwe despite the formation of a unity government over a year ago and the conciliatory words of the President a few days ago. The insistence of ZESA employees that the peaceful activists be arrested will also be remembered. It appears that the electricity provider would rather have its paying customers arrested than dialogue with them about their concerns. This arrogant behavior is further confirmation that ZESA is not interested in providing a service to Zimbabweans but is only interested in taking advantage of their need for a basic requirement.

To read a copy of the yellow card the WOZA protestors were delivering to ZESA, click here: ZESA yellow card

To read a copy of WOZA’s report on electricity services in Zimbabwe, click here: WOZA report on ZESA

What tolerance for ZESA Four?

WOZA members arrest themselves in solidarity outside ZESA headquaters in Harare
WOZA members arrest themselves in solidarity outside ZESA headquaters in Harare

Watch video footage of the demonstration here: WOZA ZESA demo Harare 15.04.10

In his Independence Day address today, President Robert Mugabe spoke of the need for Zimbabweans to “foster an environment of tolerance and treating each other with dignity and respect irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, tribe, political or religious affiliation.” At the same time, four WOZA activists, Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa and Celina Madukani were spending their fourth day in the cold, dark, filthy cells of Harare Central Police Station. Their crime? Exercising their constitutional right to peaceful protest and asking electricity service provider, ZESA, to improve their service and revise their flawed billing system. The demonstration in which the four women were arrested, together with 61 comrades who were released without charge later the same day, was entirely peaceful. The women have not been formally charged by police and yet have been subjected to an extended detention. Is this the tolerance, dignity and respect that the President is referring to?

Detention in appalling conditions is the reality for human rights defenders in Zimbabwe. 30 years of independence from colonial rule is an achievement worthy of commemoration. How much sweeter would it have been if the party that helped to liberate the people of Zimbabwe was now not actively involved in their oppression? It is time that the promises of the liberation war are delivered to the people of Zimbabwe.

Please continue to call Harare Central Police Station on (+263 4) 777777 or (+263 4) 736931 or (+263 4) 725803 or (+263 4) 733033 or (+263 4) 721212 to ask police officers why they are continuing to detain the WOZA activists and insist that they not be mistreated in custody.

To read a copy of the yellow card the WOZA protestors were delivering to ZESA, click here: ZESA yellow card

To read a copy of WOZA’s report on electricity services in Zimbabwe, click here: WOZA report on ZESA

WOZA release report on state of democracy in Zimbabwe one year after formation of GNU

In 2009, WOZA started discussions on what we think the building blocks of democracy are with over 11,000 members, urban and rural, through workshops and a booklet – Building democracy with WOZA. The objective was to raise awareness that Zimbabwe needs a democratic form of government committed to making sure that all the building blocks of democracy are in place for all citizens to enjoy social justice.

As 2009 closed, we conducted a further consultation of the state of our democracy after the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in February 2009. 4,016 people gave us their views. The results have been released in a report entitled, ‘Hearts starve as well as bodies – give us bread but give us roses too! Democratising Zimbabwe – an opportunity to shine! A WOZA perspective on the state of democracy in Zimbabwe.’ The report is a snapshot of our community activists’ views on the state of democracy in Zimbabwe one year after the GNU was formed.

The main findings of the report include:

  • The belief that the power-sharing government has decreased democratic space in Zimbabwe.
  • There has been some change for those who are rich but for the poor nothing has changed. It has remained survival of the fittest. The dollarisation of the economy stabilised prices and the economy in general but the gap between rich and poor widened.
  • Many expressed no confidence in an election before the constitutional process is complete.
  • People want to give their views and write their own constitution but worry that the current consultation process has too many loopholes that can be manipulated to change their views into those wanted by politicians.
  • Most agree that they believe that public funds should go through the Ministry of Finance but the Minister must also be transparent about what he does with it.
  • The personal security situation for ordinary people is still very insecure.
  • Most people polled believe that the rule of law in the country has worsened.

The report also contains a list of steps that WOZA, the mothers of the nation, would like to see before we can believe that democracy is alive and well in Zimbabwe. These include:

  1. Elections – Before the referendum, we need to have confidence that a voter’s roll will be transparently prepared and displayed for viewing. We need a truly independent electoral commission.
  2. Opposition – we need to see democracy in action – a genuine welcoming of different political voices.
  3. Civil rights – we are citizens with rights and must be allowed to enjoy all our rights without fear or harassment. We look forward to the passing of the bill amending POSA. We need to see the promised security sector reform with special attention on police reform because it is police who abuse our rights on a daily basis.
  4. Rule of law – start to prosecute perpetrators of politically motivated violence urgently – everyone must obey the law or be punished.
  5. Separation of powers – The presidential appointment of Tomana and Gono has resulted in a further mixing up of the functions of government. For judicial reform, Tomana and other political appointees in the Attorney General’s office must go and be replaced by professional people who will balance the scales of our justice system.
  6. Equality – we are writing this into our new constitution. Please Parliamentary Select Committee do not betray this ideal by cheating us when we give you our views.
  7. Transparency and accountability – As long as we have a politically partisan Reserve Bank governor, there will be no investor confidence, jobs will not be available and workers receive a living wage – therefore Gono must go. Minister Tendai Biti, we need more transparency and accountability from you. Studying your strategy from the trenches, it looks like you want to squeeze money out of poor people’s pockets to fund the recovery. You need to do better to cushion the poor! You must stop the police from criminalizing informal traders. Please don’t forget about the children’s education, they are our future.
  8. Participation of the people – our report is called hearts starve as well as bodies – give us bread but give us roses too!  We want our ‘rose’, which is our own constitution! Allow a genuine people-driven process for the constitutional consultation for our full participation. Disband militia camps and let our children come home. The police must stop arresting people without good reason; police officers are crucial to allowing people to feel free. To the three principals, you promised us a “society free of violence, fear, intimidation, hate, patronage, corruption and founded on justice, fairness, openness, transparency, dignity and equality.” Now it is time to deliver on what you promised.

To read a full copy of the report, please click on the following link: Hearts starve as well as bodies: a WOZA perspective on the state of democracy in Zimbabwe

WOZA demand changes in education system in 2010

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) has launched a report on the state of education in Zimbabwe entitled ‘Looking back to look forward – education in Zimbabwe: a WOZA perspective‘. The recommendations contained in the report form the basis of WOZA’s current campaign on education.

The education of their children has been a major driving force for Zimbabweans and WOZA members in particular, and the motivation behind much activism. In the first decade after Independence, the education system in Zimbabwe reached its peak and was heralded as the best in Africa. In the last decade however, it has been pushed to its decline by power and politics. The report reflects on how this decay took place in order to expose this injustice and to demand its immediate remedy.

The recommendations included in the report include:

  • A revamping of the curriculum to ensure its relevance to the children who learn.
  • Introducing more vocational subjects – both commercial and technical -and providing opportunities for children to be attached in work places during their senior years.
  • Allowing children to be placed according to their abilities and their interests instead of providing the same curriculum for all
  • Teaching methods need to stress skills development rather than rote learning of knowledge in preparation for exams.
  • Administration of schools needs to be less autocratic and more tended to participatory decision-making; physical abuse, which is common, must stop.
  • A subject which teaches human rights, good governance, and democratic practice will need to be introduced to the curriculum
  • Teachers and administrators will need to be re-trained to accommodate new approaches to teaching and learning.
  • Examination systems will have to be revamped.

In January 2010, ahead of the new school year, WOZA has the following demands:

  • Teachers must produce quality teaching and show that they are committed to the learning of all their pupils equally.
  • Education authorities must utilise the vehicles that are being purchased to supervise teachers and demand more discipline in schools.
  • Teachers must stop demanding top-ups from parents and the Ministry must prohibit this practice.
  • The Ministry must work to produce a new and relevant curriculum as recommended above.
  • Parents will do their best to pay reasonable fees set by Ministry and levies set by properly constituted and democratic parents meetings at the beginning of each year – we will not accept any fee or levy changes in 2010.

The full report can be found by clicking on the following link: Looking back to look forward -education in Zimbabwe: a WOZA perspective1

Helping Zimbabweans to understand and write their own Constitution – with help from WOZA/MOZA

WOZA has produced a booklet ‘A guide to understanding the Constitution’, which has been included below.

The booklet is to aid people to contribute in consultations as well as to help members decide on their minimum standards and principles for a constitution. WOZA prepared the booklet to empower people with issues to debate publicly prior to the public consultations and to empower them to speak out during the consultations.

The English version: Helping Zimbabweans to understand and write their own Constitution

The Shona version: Kubatsira mhuri ye Zimbabwe kunzwisisa ne kunyora Bumbiro ravo re Mitemo

The Ndebele version: Ukuphathisa amazimbabwe ukuba bazwisise njalo balobe iSisekelo Sombuso sabo

Zimbabwe’s constitution-making process – a WOZA perspective

Background
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) has consulted with members over the last few weeks on the constitutional reform process initiated by Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA)1 and recognise the opportunity to play a role in making this process result in a truly democratic Zimbabwe. WOZA has already been involved in joint civic society discussions on these developments and will continue to take part in a coordinated response. We are prepared to participate fully in the process but do so under protest as we feel there are serious shortcomings in the procedures articulated in the GPA.

Ordinary Zimbabweans were not consulted and did not input into the 15 September 2008 Global Political Agreement. It may therefore prove inadequate as a tool of creating a truly people-driven constitution.
Constitutional Amendment 19 went further in providing wide-ranging direction and oversight role to the Parliament of Zimbabwe, which makes the constitutional process subject to political party control.

Whilst we acknowledge that the people voted for Members of Parliament and Senators and recognise that they can be expected to represent the views of the people in their constituency, constitution making should be an inclusive process. It is a given that the whole nation needs to take ownership of their right to determine how they are governed. At the very least, elected representatives need to conduct public meetings to hear the views of the people in their constituencies in open and direct discussion rather than making unilateral decisions on our behalf.

Most importantly however, we feel that there is no real operating climate for full enjoyment by citizens of all their freedoms of expression and assembly. There continues to be flagrant disregard for the rule of law, politically motivated and indiscriminate arrests and detentions and a climate of fear remains. Citizens need a tangible sign that they will be able to meet and debate without harassment before a truly meaningful process can be embarked upon.

We recognise that Zimbabweans have long dreamed of their very own constitution, not a temporary arrangement that the Lancaster House Constitution was supposed to be. Instead of getting a truly people-driven process in 1987, the constitution was changed to become a one-party state. In 2000, they wanted to change it again to give the president even more executive powers. We voted NO because we wanted less concentration on executive powers. We have had too many false starts and still need to complete this reform process and come up with a constitution we can be proud of.

Taking the step
WOZA members believe that it is better to light a single candle than to complain about the darkness. In this spirit and committed to the constitutional reforms outlined in the WOZA People’s Charter and reaffirmed in the Zimbabwe People’s Charter, we will fully participate in order to ensure people are able to input into this most important of documents. We will contribute despite the threat of arrests and detentions. We will meet any attempts to disrespect our views with ‘tough love’.

We will take the step towards a fresh process with commitment and vigour, eager to vote in a referendum for a new constitution. We are impatient to arrive at the day we can vote in a free and fair election conducted in terms of the provision of that new democratic constitution so that we can complete the change and get on with our lives.

Recommendations for a participatory process
Below we have outlined recommendations that we believe will ensure that the process, despite its inauspicious beginnings, could be truly participatory.

  • The letter and spirit of the GPA is packed with rhetoric about gender equality but in deed the power-sharing government has been found lacking. We therefore request meaningful participation by women, and not just any women. Women who are known to engage and consult and represent our issues, in all constitutional processes. This includes members of subcommittees, be they technical; related to drafting; consulting or logistics. In addition the public face of the consultative process must be gender balanced. There should be equal amounts of women chairing and presenting in all meetings.
  • Special sessions for women only should be provided for as women have long been marginalized in Zimbabwean society. They have a unique contribution to make to dignify our nation.
  • The youth are now a stolen generation, devoid of hope and opportunity. We also recommend that special sessions for under-25 year olds be convened. Having their own sessions will boost their confidence that they also have a place in rebuilding the nation.
  • There needs to be a transparent process in the selection of civic society representatives in the subcommittees. We need committee members with clear roles and responsibilities. They should also be people with a clear understanding of constitutional issues rather than being politically loyal. We would be well represented by those who have constituencies. Committee members must be accountable to their constituencies and hold consultative and report back meetings to make the process truly participatory.
  • We want freedom of expression and freedom after expression. To ensure this right is respected, police, both uniformed and non-uniformed, must undergo training on issues of public order so that they do not interfere in our right to meet and debate. Any officer who is unable to be professional and respect civil rights must be dismissed. See GPA Article 12.1(b) – Freedoms of Assembly and Association4 and Article 13.2(a) – State organs and institutions.5
  • Mobilisation needs to be all-inclusive and so broad communication is essential. Public hearings and consultations with public must be advertised well in advance not only on television and in print media but also by alternative media so that all communities are advised and can participate.
    For the process to be as inclusive as possible we would like to see the select committee promoting the need for, and accepting, written submissions from both individuals and organisations, from within Zimbabwe and without. We recommend numerous acceptance points for such submissions, for example email, text messages or suggestion boxes. More weight should be attached to identified submissions rather than anonymous contributions but we these communication tools would nonetheless have been used to stimulated debate.
  • With the manipulation of information being the issue that derailed previous attempts at constitutional reform, we therefore suggest that: the process of compiling opinions obtained during public consultation be transparent and include checks to prevent suppression of “unwanted” views. A summary of views should be published before the drafting of constitution is done.
  • It is said the devil is in the detail. We require that there be civic society representatives within the drafting sub-committee. They will participate in conducting a complementary recording and drafting role.
  • To mobilise Zimbabweans to keep control of the process, a ‘Draft Monitoring and Observer Working Group’ should be formed to provide civilian oversight and real-time reporting on content obtained from meetings. They will also provide early warning that the process or content is being hijacked. This Working Group will post reports on the website for historical proof of contributions. Should the process become a victim of the hidden hand of political expediency, proof will be available to mobilise a NO vote.
  • WOZA wish to receive an invitation to attend the all stakeholders’ conferences. We also require the opportunity to input into planning of objectives, agenda and format. We want to see an acceptable process for the stakeholders’ conferences, by which the agenda is not controlled by the select committee.
  • It is vital that the draft constitution be made available well before the second stakeholder’s conference so that we are able to audit it to see if all views are considered and how it compares to the published summaries.
  • At the second stakeholders conference we will expect a report by the drafting subcommittee explaining why they have chosen specific formulations over others. This is to ensure the committee can be accountable for consideration of all views.
  • It is a given that a draft will be prepared from public input. Parliament must not amend the draft; rather debate it for clarification of certain aspects. Should Parliament wish to alter some formats or contributions, they must be required to come back to the all stakeholders’ conference to present their views for ratification by the stakeholders.
  • The Independent Electoral Commission should be replaced by a genuinely independent commission to restore confidence in voting procedures. We expect the referendum to be conducted by an outside neutral body with independent expertise, as it is important to avoid further poll disputes.
  • Zimbabweans have long been marginalized by not being issued with documentation. The power-sharing government must make a special effort to redress this injustice. In the meanwhile, every citizen under the Amendment 19 criteria should be allowed to vote in the referendum with either their identity document or passport, without drawing up a new voters roll. In addition, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora should be allowed to vote so they feel included in the future of their country.
  • The power-sharing government must take cognisance of our impatience to exercise our full democratic rights under a new constitution. We therefore demand clear timelines as to the next election following the referendum process as both the GPA and Amendment 19 is silent on this timeline. We do not expect any timelines to be shifted by more than two months.

Conclusion
As stated above, WOZA is fully committed to participating in the constitution-making process that has been initiated by the GPA. Nonetheless, we have serious reservations about the procedures as outlined in Article 6 as we do not believe that they are inclusive enough. We also recognise that these procedures are predisposed to excessive control by politicians. Whilst we are prepared to give members of our new government the benefit of the doubt, we are aware that Zimbabweans have been badly let down by politicians in the past. Together with our partners in civic society, we do not intend to sit back and quietly allow them to minimise the participation of the very people in whose name they claim to be writing the constitution.

We have clearly outlined recommendations above that we feel are minimum requirements for WOZA’s participation. We are determined to advocate for the implementation of these recommendations at every given opportunity and reserve the right to review the nature of our participation should the environment become untenable.

Building Democracy with WOZA

In order for WOZA members and all Zimbabweans to better understand what democracy really means in our everyday lives, WOZA has created a booklet that discusses the eight building blocks of democracy.

For the English version, please click on the following link: Building Democracy with WOZA

For the Shona version, please click on the following link: Kuvaka Rusununguko neWOZA

For the Ndebele version, please click on the following link: Ukwakha Umbuso Ovumela Intando Kazulu le WOZA