Articles

Assist the Elderly to Understand the Draft Constitution

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition convened a civic education and community mobilization meeting at Mutero Mission on Saturday 28 April 2012 with the objective of mobilizing people in the area to participate in the key political processes including the forthcoming referendum and possible elections. The meetings had bias towards young people especially around encouraging them to register as voters and to vote in the next elections in Zimbabwe.

The meeting was attended by 216 people, 128 of which were males and 88 females. Young people mostly high school students who were mobilized by the church leadership and teachers in the area were among the people who attended the meeting. The Coalition's Acting Programs Manager, Mr. Nixon Nyikadzino who gave feedback on the constitution making process said the process was nearing completion and young people need to assist their parents and the elderly in understanding the contents of the draft constitution when it is availed by COPAC. Mr. Mutanga encouraged young people to desist from violence as the country enters the referendum and the elections. He said the President, Mr. Robert Mugabe has been speaking against violence and the message should cascade down to the grassroots. He encouraged the local leadership of political parties to speak out against violence.

It however emerged that young people have been disenfranchised and are unwilling to participate in political processes. The level of violence that prevailed during the 2008 elections has led to the withdrawal of young people from political processes. They witnessed the violence at a very tender age and are traumatized by the events in the area. The healing processes have to begin to ensure that communities can heal and prepare for elections.

Participants also highlighted that civil society programs that seek to establish working relationships with traditional leaders must be strengthened in order to allow better access to communities. Experiences by the coalition in working with traditional leaders have shown that greater cooperation in programming can be an effective tool in dealing with perceptions, both from civil society and the leaders themselves. Some traditional leaders have been victims of the ZANU PF patronage system with serious consequences on the holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. For example some traditional leaders have been forced to ban activities of the pro- democracy actors in the area under their jurisdiction for the fear of losing the government vehicles and allowances, as if they are from ZANU PF.

Other issues that emerged include:

  1. Registration is not going smoothly in most areas. The registrar general's office does not stick to the working hours they claim to be open.
  2. Some people are waiting for the delimitation exercise to be completed so that they are sure they are registering in the area they will be eligible to vote. In the past, people had to re-register after they were informed they are registered in the wrong wards.

  3. ZANU PF has to put in place a succession plan for their leadership. The violence that has rocked Masvingo ZANU PF structures has broader implications on society including people who are not in the political party. There are reports of factionalism related violence and intimidation in the Bikita and ZAKA areas of Masvingo.

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