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Dear Family and Friends,
Tension had been building for weeks, everyone was expecting trouble, propaganda and rumour had reached ridiculous proportions and no one thought there was a chance of a peaceful final meeting on the draft new constitution. For three and a half years every step of our new constitution making process has been littered with bickering, accusations, intimidation and threats. We’ve had rowdy youths barging their way into meetings and breaking them up; meetings cancelled or abandoned; delegates assaulted; rapporteurs threatened, recording equipment seized and MP’s fleeing venues to get away from violent elements. To be honest many people didn’t think we would even get to the closing All Stakeholders Conference while others had already given up on the whole process saying it had been politically hijacked long ago.
No one expected that the final conference would go smoothly and we sat on the edge of our seats waiting for trouble, but it never came. Or it never came in the crude, big -stick way, which has become the trademark of decision making in Zimbabwe. Unbelievably over a thousand men and women met in Harare for two days and only one incident made front page headlines when a Zanu PF delegate, Temba Mliswa, grabbed a camera being used to record proceedings and took it away. Other incidents were going on that didn’t make news headlines but were highlighted in a press statement by a quartet of NGO’s known as ZZZICOMP. The group recorded delegates who intimidated, harassed, heckled and issued verbal threats to other delegates. They said there was widespread coaching of delegates by all three political parties which left them parroting party opinions.
So far most people haven’t seen the new draft but those that have are far from happy about clauses which are clearly the result of political negotiation rather than the opinions of ordinary people. It’s not really clear what happened to the pages of amendments Zanu PF were insisting on or what happened to resolve any of the most contentious issues such as dual citizenship, diaspora voting; presidential running mates, land rights, a prosecuting authority or the devolution of power.
I know that my rights as a Zimbabwean are not protected in the draft new constitution. I also know that it is extremely unlikely that the multiple thousands of born and resident Zimbabweans struck off the voters roll in the last ten years will even be allowed to vote in the referendum on this draft new constitution. Don’t get so upset about it, people say, it’s just another step in the process. But which process: the Zanu PF process, the MDC process or a process for our children and future generations of Zimbabweans regardless of which political party they choose to support. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.
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