Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) - Constitution Reform Press statement

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) have completed a member's consultation regarding political developments in Zimbabwe. The activity was conducted to keep members briefed on the situation that prevails but also to consult members on what position the organisation should adopt around the constitutional and political scenarios that could play out.


The workshop consultation was conducted in Bulawayo and Harare and of 27 areas of Matabeleland North and South drawing 14 457 participants with 447 being men.   This figure 14457 members is 17% of our membership of 85 000 countrywide.


Members expressed concern over the continued political squabbling affecting progress. They expressed concern that the constitutional reform process is far too dependent on political negotiation and not enough of the politicians listening to the views of their political party members and ordinary citizens.


Members are also unhappy with the manner in which the Zimbabwe Republic Police continue to disrupt peaceful protests thereby helping politicians to sideline citizen voices. Members called for intervention by SADC and the UN on police harassment of WOZA members and activities. During the WOZA 'Occupy for Devolution' series in Bulawayo members were beaten by plain clothed police officers with thorny twigs. The officer concerned is named Brain and is based at Pumula police station. Further to this on 27 June Wednesday 2012 and 101 members were arrested on orders of officer commanding Bulawayo.


This officer acted with impunity and is a 'law unto himself', it is upon his orders that members were arrested 30 minutes before any protest began. The Zimbabwe Republic Police are operating on a political agenda and must be held accountable. Although WOZA have submitted many complaints to the Joint Operating and Monitoring Mechanism (Jomic) they have done nothing but use those complaints as scrap paper.


As there continues to be no meaningful economic reform economic instability is affecting the cost of basic commodities.   Job losses continue to be the order of the day in Bulawayo and in other centres and no concern is paid to this problem. To make matters worse, Police continue to loot from members trying to survive by vending.


The culture of impunity and the using of the 'peoples name' to loot from activities that should be genuinely conducted in the nations interest continue unabated. COPAC has become a liability and waste of resources which will continue through the second all stakeholders' conference process.


Members were gravely concerned about the continued deployment of militia and war veteran in the community.


These members were also asked if they are registered voters and results polled as follows:

The overall number of registered Bulawayo members was 60%.   Male members registered were 51% and women 62% registered. Harare registered members was 72%.   Male members registered were 73% and women 72% registered. The overall number of registered Matabeleland rural members was 70%. The number of male members registered was 74% and women 69% registered. The high number of registered members here is due primarily to ease of access to voter registration centres due to Zanu PF attention on rural areas as a method of vote buying or rigging. Members in rural areas also do not have proof of residence challenges.


There were more significant numbers of members registered in Harare and in the rural areas.   The main reasons explained is one of marginalisation which justifies the need for devolution. Bulawayo members have not been able to easily access documents for various reasons. Some members cannot afford to travel to the capital Harare to get their birth certificates and the local office is inefficient at providing these. Many people of this region were affected by the Gukurahundi massacre and lost parents for who they cannot obtain death certificates and therefore cannot have their births registered. Mobile registration centres do not function properly or only process a few people a day before closing.


Members gave the main reasons they have failed to register as voters as follows:

·                 Many members are Aliens and some who were registered in 1980 were de-registered for allegedly being an alien.

·                 Lack of interest in voting due to the violence that is associated with voting.

·                 Ignorance

·                 Some were still under age

·                 Lack of the necessary documentation e.g. birth certificates and Identity cards.

·                 Many are not home owners and rent a room from a landlord. So as 'lodgers' they cannot prove residence so cannot register.

·                 Some have some interest in registering but it's a long and difficult process to renounce the foreign citizenship even though they do not like being classified as alien when they had previously voted as Zimbabweans.


Members were united in their criticism of the political opposition for compromising far too much and accused them of looking more their self interest than the people will.   Members said they only have a 45% trust of the opposition. Members also criticised them for not being realistic on the failing of the President Robert Mugabe. He has a record of back tracking and does not keep to agreements and on a whim will launch another violent campaign against Zimbabweans


As the campaign report was being finalised a draft was released and required study. WOZA note the following points of interest to members:


a)     Free education and adult basic education. There is also further education which the state should make available.

b)     Gender equality specified in many sections and the removal of restrictions by traditional culture.

c)     President, cabinet, ministry permanent secretaries and all commissioners limited to two five year terms limit.

d)     A devolved system of government with some forms of elected officials and specified resource control.

e)     A more transparent sharing of power with the presidential running mates system.

f)       We have proportional representation which does bring a more democratically implemented.

g)     We got more democratic electoral systems and a Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with extended powers.

h)     Total abolishment of the Death penalty for women.

i)         Most political leaders in legislature, civic servants, security sector must no longer involve themselves in politics or be impartial.

j)       A National Peace Commission that will deal with transitional justice issues.

k)     A National Prosecuting Authority and reduced power for the Attorney General.

l)         An independent complaints commission so we can hold security sector accountable.

m) An expanded bill of rights, including social, economic, political and cultural rights.

n)     The right to demonstrate and petition and rights to liberty more clearly defined.

o)     A non-discrimination clause and 16 official languages.

p)     Domestication of international instruments to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.

q)     A Constitutional and Electoral Court.


WOZA members provided their leadership with a mandate to begin a vote YES campaign if their main requirements were included in the draft. We wish to place on public record the following outstanding issues from our member's requirements:


a)     We do not see clearly spelt out and reduced executive presidency power, including the age limit we wanted; removal of the president right to deploy troops and the right to make appointments.

b)     More reasonable land and agricultural reform clauses

c)     It is unfortunate that our view that Traditional leaders do not belong in the legislature or Senate but in their home constituencies.

d)     We do not see a clearly spelt out Dual citizenship clause which shows political blinkers and short sightedness in the extreme.

e)     WOZA will use the second all stakeholders' process to campaign for the inclusion of these issues. In the meanwhile WOZA call for an end to further interference, egos and political posturing.


These are our demands on the political leadership of the country:

1.     No more compromises from MDC and MDC T on the draft constitution or we will refuse to accept it.

2.     Zanu PF must for once allow the peoples and their own members view to carry the day. The people spoke clearly that they no longer want a highly centralised unitary state. The child called DEVOLUTION has been born. It is a child conceived by the people, the majority being mothers of the nation. Born out of a reluctant coupling of politicians and people. The baby's face may not look like we wanted but it is a citizen by birth - allow the people to give it life and help it grow.

3.     We demand the 17 July 2012 draft be urgently printed in all languages and provide sufficient time to study it and advance us our political rights in section 4:24 which will allow us our right to meet and demonstrate peacefully as part of civic awareness raising role.

4.     A transparent and accountable system to call for the second all stakeholders conference with full participation of all sectors of society and provision for inclusion of stakeholder input.

5.     An efficient and speed census process resulting in a proper delimitation process new voters' roll.

6.     A vote by Identity card in the referendum and an easier registration system for the election that follows.

7.     We call on the SADC monitoring team to begin work and to push for full GPA implementation and an end to police harassment of WOZA members 8. Please will members of the international community to refuse to lift sanctions until the finalisation of the Draft after the referendum process.

8.     We call on the UNDP to continue to fund the constitution making process but with conditions that make sure we have progress and the people's views are genuinely sought and taken into account and that there are not inflated budgets 10. WOZA call on Civic Society leaders and workers to avoid grandstanding but to take their role seriously this time round. In 1999 and 2000, there was a NO campaign which failed to correctly provide Zimbabweans with a proper picture of what was at stake. Many of us were not properly and responsibly consulted. Please do not take people for granted this time round.


A message to the people of Zimbabwe: This is your time to shine and exercise your democracy, don't let the politicians speak for you or take you for granted.

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