Preservation and Protection of the Constitution is Key to Resolving Zim Crisis

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) notes with concern the attempts by the ruling ZANU PF to mutilate the Constitution by amending it before its full implementation. The proposed amendments approved by Cabinet relate to the appointments of Vice Presidents, the Prosecutor General, Public Protector, promotion of judges and the terms of office of judges. The proposed amendments include the rejected Constitution Amendment Bill No.1 of 2016. Any amendments to the Constitution must seek to further entrench democracy and deepen the enjoyment of rights by citizens.

We remind political parties and Cabinet that the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe was bred out of popular and concerted advocacy by citizens and civil society and through its adoption in 2013 is an expression of the will of citizens. In our view, the proposed amendments seek to entrench the interests of individuals and dent the independence of an already captured judiciary.

As an umbrella body of civic society organizations in Zimbabwe advocating for democratic development, we reiterate that the preservation and full implementation of the Constitution is a duty of every citizen regardless of political preferences and that the Constitution, if fully implemented and adhered to, is a lasting solution to Zimbabwe’s problems.

We further reiterate that as calls for dialogue increase such dialogue must be anchored on preserving and strengthening Zimbabwe’s constitutional order guided by an agreed all stakeholders roadmap to the resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis.

In this regard, we hold the firm view that while citizens and stakeholders are allowed to develop and proffer transitional alternatives to the national crisis, such alternatives must never be anchored on mutilating the Constitution by suspending key democratic processes that allow citizens to choose leaders of their choice timeously. Attempting to address the national crisis by suspending the Constitution is counter to the very foundations of our nation.

In the same vein, restricting the dialogue process to political parties will only create a political pact that excludes the concerns of ordinary citizens. This therefore underlines the importance of a process accepted by all stakeholders and guarantor at the SADC, African Union or United Nations level.

We reiterate that efforts at arresting the multifaceted crisis facing the country must be hinged on a competitive national dialogue process which is seated on broad citizenry issues and key reforms agreed by stakeholders with clearly set timelines and a monitoring framework. We also raise our concerns over a national dialogue process that is facilitated by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission on the basis of the following:

1. NPRC Commissioners are appointees of the President and save at his mercy who in this case is a conflicted party

2. The commission has, despite repeated calls and need, failed to rollout tangible national reconciliation initiatives

3. The issues at stake require an accepted and un-conflicted party to play the mediator role and a continental or international guarantor We further reiterate the importance of creating a conducive environment that will allow stakeholders to freely share ideas on transitional alternatives and as part of confidence and trust building in the national dialogue, the Zimbabwe must immediately meet the following conditions:

a. End torture, abductions and enforced disappearances, murder, rape and maiming civilians by the military, state security agents and ruling party vigilante groups
b. Decriminalize the work of civic society and end the continued persecution and arbitrary arrests of civic society leaders
c. Ensure that peace and human security to prevail to allow for all stakeholders to freely express their views on the national dialogue process
d. The attempts to weaken democratic processes by amending the Constitution must immediately be hauled.
e. Promote fair media coverage for all stakeholders and allow divergent views to be shared on all media platforms. Tolerance to divergence is the hallmark of enriching the national dialogue process

We reiterate that efforts at arresting the multi faceted crisis facing the country are hinged on a proper national dialogue process that seeks to put the concerns of ordinary citizens on board and preserve Zimbabwe’s Constitution.

Addressing the Zimbabwean crisis implies addressing the concerns of the ordinary citizens who have had to bear the brutal effects of an economic meltdown stemming from a constitutional and legitimacy crisis.

Public office bearers must honour their obligations in upholding, protecting and defending the Constitution.

On our part as Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we have set our minimum demands for the national dialogue process based on the defense and observation of the Constitution.

Our demands are highlighted below:

On the process:

1) It is our conviction that the national dialogue process must involve all stakeholders and a national visioning process that has civil society, government, political parties, business, religious groups and labour unions among other critical stakeholders. The dialogue process should produce a clearly timed roadmap to the demilitarisation of civilian political processes and the restoration of normalcy by focusing on key political, economic and social reforms. In this regard, we call for FULL CONSULTATION of all stakeholders rather than cosmetic processes.

On the Economy:

2) It is imperative to arrest the economic downturn in Zimbabwe based on a clear reform roadmap and implementation of pro-poor and inclusive economic policies. Efforts at economic transformation, stabilisation and growth should be aimed at achieving inclusive sustainable economic growth and development.

On Constitutionalism, Rule of Law, Human Rights and Human Security:

3) The Government of Zimbabwe must uphold and guarantee citizens’ rights as enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution and other regional and international human rights treaties and statutes. Full implementation of the country’s constitution is equally important in promoting democracy in Zimbabwe.

4) The Government of Zimbabwe must respect the fundamental right of access to information, freedom of expression as well as freedom of association.

5) There is need to immediately operationalise a comprehensive programme on national healing, reconciliation and nation building that will depolarise society and entrench the respect for diversity, inclusion and tolerance in all facets of life.

6) The army must desist from partisan politics and confine themselves to the barracks. There is an imperative need to de-militarise the Zimbabwean state.

7) There is need for non-interference into the work of institutions that support democracy. This again calls for full implementation and respect of the country’s constitution. Also, government must not be seen to be criminalising the work of civic society organisations.

8) CiZC holds the firm view that implementation of electoral reforms is critical as a way of doing away with disputed elections that often result in a legitimacy crisis which comes with negative impacts on democracy and economic development

Source: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition