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 homegrown constitution since attaining Independence from British colonial rule in 1980. After attaining Independence the country adopted the oppressive Lancaster House constitution which has been amended 19 times to curtail people’s freedoms so as to strengthen Zanu PF’s stranglehold on power for more than three decades.
It is with great regret that ROHR Zimbabwe has learnt that the constitution outreach process has been met with disturbances which threaten the credibility of the outcome of the process. Reports of systematic intimidation campaigns, organised violence and threats are the order of the day. Innocent families have fallen victim to the terror campaigns and there are recorded reports of people who have fled their homes after receiving threats of violence. Reliable information and reports received by ROHR Zimbabwe suggest that party supporters of Zanu PF and their youth militia have hijacked the process to coerce people to endorse their partisan stance which culminated in the infamous Kariba draft constitution.
What is more perplexing is the revelation that even the state agents and uniformed forces are implicated in the disturbances. Operations such as “Tisu tinotaura” ( We are the ones mandated to speak) and operation “Vhara muromo” (close your mouth) have been hatched with the sole aim of scuppering 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 concern the increasing 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 lives.
We condemn the violation of the 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 caused a hugely defective constitution bent on maintaining an oppressive system in power at the expense of the people. It is therefore only just that people should speak freely against a past legacy of authoritarianism by forming a new constitution.
We strongly denounce the mindset of some political parties trying to hoodwink the nation and hold people to ransom by masquerading as the sole liberators of the people from colonial rule. Placed in the right context, the liberation struggle was a lifetime achievement which united all Zimbabweans across the political divide.
The coalition government is reminded that human rights are not gifts selectively given to the people at the pleasure of politicians or governments, but that they are God- given and universal.
For Peace, Justice and