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:
- 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.
- Opposition – we need to see democracy in action – a genuine welcoming of different political voices.
- 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.
- Rule of law – start to prosecute perpetrators of politically motivated violence urgently – everyone must obey the law or be punished.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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