By Cathy Buckle
Our new draft constitution has finally been released. It has been four years in the making and cost over forty million US dollars to get to this stage. The draft runs to 164 pages; each of its fifty six thousand plus words has cost over one thousand US dollars.
Within hours of its release the draft constitution had been posted on numerous websites on the internet. Despite the vast expense, incessant leaks, political bickering, accusations and threats, the release of the Draft Constitution did not make headline news on the country’s one and only TV station.
ZBC TV relegated the news of our new Draft Constitution to a sluggish slot, twenty six minutes into their main evening news bulletin.
The Draft Constitution came in fifth place after stories of the President talking at the AU , the President calling for the removal of sanctions, the President launching a women’s economic empowerment framework and Zanu PF saying there was no going back on their disbanding of their party’s district co-ordinating committees.
Inspecting and understanding 164 pages of a document so critical to the future of our country is no small task but already eyebrows are being raised about the most contentious topics whose interpretation is difficult and often confusing.
In the grey areas it’s hard to know which are the guiding principles Zimbabweans really wanted and which are the result of negotiated settlements between rival political parties protecting their own interests.
Expecting to read that the current President, in power for the past thirty two years, would not be able to stand again in elections next year, the draft constitution has introduced new limits but they will not disqualify current leaders from standing again.
The new draft reads: “A person is disqualified for election as President or Vice President if he or she has already held office as President under this Constitution for two terms.”
Then there is the section relating to citizenship. Despite earlier assurances that dual citizenship would be enabled in the draft constitution, it isn’t. Three million plus Zimbabweans living in the diaspora must be questioning what their place or that of their children is in the future of our country or in its decision making.
For those Zimbabweans in the diaspora who have faithfully been sending home millions of dollars every month to support their families, not to mention the economy, this is a sad, sad day.
Eyebrows are raised at the section relating to the right to life. Conditions have been significantly increased but it seems the death penalty will continue to be allowed – for men – but not for women. So if a man commits aggravated murder he will die but if a woman does the same she won’t.
Surely the question then will easily be: who was holding the gun?
A referendum on this draft constitution may take place as soon as October and is expected to cost thirty million US dollars but at this stage it is not clear which Zimbabweans will actually be able to vote in that referendum.
Will all the born and raised, resident ‘aliens’ already struck off, be allowed to vote in the referendum or just the resident ‘aliens’ whose parents were born in SADC, or none of the resident ‘aliens’ until the electoral laws are changed? NO one seems able to answer the question.
Trying to make headway through the 164 page draft constitution our attention couldn’t help but he diverted by the sudden freezing weather to hit the country. Thick frost, frozen hose pipes, outdoor water bowls and bird baths turned to solid ice and plants burnt and crisped.
According to the met dept a cold continental air flow is upon us, it will last for a week and night time temperatures of minus three degrees Celsius can be expected in some centres. The quote which raised a smile came from the head of the Met Dept who said: “ People are also advised to put on warm clothing.”
A copy of Zimbabwe’s final draft constitution is posted on my website following this link: Click here www.cathybuckle.com/links.php
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy. 21st July 2012. Copyright � Cathy Buckle. www.cathybuckle.com
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