By David Chidende
Harare – Civil Society Organisations were on Tuesday castigated for being divided and weak during the constitution making process rendering the whole exercise a failure, especially in raising public awareness about the draft constitution.
Speaking at the launch of a book “Civil Society and Constitutional reforms in Africa” by a regional organisation Mwelekeo wa NGO (MWENGO) at the Book Cafe’ in Harare, MDC-T legislator for Harare West Jessie Majome accused the CSOs of sabotaging the constitution making process by failing to print and distribute copies of the draft charter.
“The civil society was caught napping during the process, they did little in raising public awareness and they even refused to print and distribute copies of the draft constitution.
“They are divided, weak and confused mainly because of political interference and their dependence on international funding to the extent of failing to carry out proper constitutional education, leaving political parties to do the education and campaigning,” Majome said.
She added that there has been no proper constitutional education since the weakening of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the subsequent decline of its membership base in 2008 making the public awareness process an uphill task for many civil society organisations.
Professor Lloyd Sachikonye, a University of Zimbabwe lecturer also echoed Majome’s sentiments adding that CSOs were weakened by their alignment to political parties leaving the politicians to do the task.
“CSOs became too cynical and detached after the signing of the Global Political Agreement, they were not pro-active to the process, and even if they were it was clear that the Parliament and political parties were much in control of the process. We used to have a robust civil society in 2002 backwards, but it was compromised in 2007 to date,” Prof Chikonye said.
The civil society supported COPAC with only the NCA opting out arguing that the establishment and process were not in the public interests.