- Last Updated on 05 September 2012
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Minister of Regional Integration and International Cooperation Honourable Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga urged the women of Zimbabwe to celebrate the COPAC Draft constitution citing that most of the rights women advocated for are captured. Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga was speaking at a public meeting organised by WIPSU at Crowne Plaza in Harare on the 4th of September 2012.
Minister Mushonga also argued that even though women were under represented at both the select and management committee of COPAC, the draft constitution was worth celebrating. 'From my point of view I don't think women will get anything better than what we have in this draft', she added. Honourable Douglas Mwonzora, also presenting at the same meeting noted that women are the people who have won the most in the current constitution battle. "Women in this case are victors who sometimes undermine the victory they have scored €. According to Honourable Mwonzora there are four key areas in the COPAC draft that women need to embrace as a step in the right direction and these are as follows:
· The preamble historically recognises the role women played in liberating the country
· The Clause on Citizenship upholds that all citizens are equal. In this case women will no longer lose their citizenship on account of marriage or dissolution of marriage
· 50/50 Representation which guarantees women a 50% representation in all decision making bodies, commissions and Parliament
· Proportional Representation in which the electoral system will enable their participation in politics and other decision making entities through a zebra system which would guarantee more seats and positions for women.
The Minister of Public Service, Honourable Lucia Matibenga hailed the draft as the greatest milestone since independence. She said that the COPAC draft was far much better than the current Lancaster House constitution since it has a comprehensive Bill of Rights including enforceable Social, economic and Cultural rights. "As mothers, this is the draft that will guarantee our children health care, shelter and better education. Let us support it and dismiss prophets of doom €, said Minister Matibenga.
Netty Musanhu, the Director of the Msasa Project who was moderating the discussion warned women not to be swayed by political parties to reject the draft constitution which she described as the 'best thing that has happened to Zimbabwe since independence in 1980'. She also noted that women need to jealously guard the constitution which so far respects women's equality.
Sylvia Chirau, the Director of Women in Law Southern Africa, augmented women's position by stating that even though the COPAC draft was a product of a negotiation process, it had components that are worth celebrating and supporting. She said that it was a good start for women. Chirau also urged women to:
· defend the gains in the current draft constitution
· continue to speak with one voice on what women want in a new constitution
· equally and effectively participate at the 2nd All Stakeholders' Conference and vote during the Referendum In order to ensure that the women's voice is heard in the process