Back to Top

A constitution resource for Zimbabweans

FamilySokwanele is pleased to announce that we have launched a constitution resource on our website. We hope that this online information system will provide users in Zimbabwe and in the diaspora with an simple way to familiarise themselves with the details of the current constitution, and with forthcoming drafts towards a proposed future constitution.

Zimbabwe's new constitution, when it is finally enacted into law, will shape all of our futures, define our fundamental human rights, provide limits on political powers, outline rules shaping the police, defence forces, prisons and public services ... and more. The constitution-making process encompasses all Zimbabweans. We encourage all Zimbabweans, no matter where they are in the world, to take part in the critical task of interrogating and thinking about the laws that will define all of our futures and establish the rights of Zimbabweans everywhere.

Zimbabweans will be asked to vote on a new draft constitution when it is finally ready. The public outreach programme, intended to gather the views of the people, is scheduled to start early in the new year. The outreach timeframe below comes via a recent Veritas mailing:

  • 4-5 January 2010: MPs and Senators will be trained on their own on Tuesday 5th January [arrival and registration on Monday 4th]
  • 6-10 January 2010: The remainder of the outreach personnel will be trained in a four-day workshop running from 7th to 10th January [arrival and registration on Wednesday 6th].
  • 11 January 2010: Outreach teams will then be deployed to the provinces where they will meet officials and representatives of civic society at provincial level to explain their programme before starting work the next day.
  • 12 January 2010: Consultation with the people will start on Tuesday 12th January.
  • 18 March 2010: End of outreach. [The consultations are expected to last 65 days but this time will be extended if necessary].

We all have a right to add our voices to this process, and we have a right to reject any document that fails to live up to our expectations. So it is important that Zimbabweans are informed about what the documents and drafts say, and that we all think carefully about the rights and standards we want enshrined in our future constitutional law.

Sokwanele's online constitution resource aims to help Zimbabweans become more informed, and it offers a platform for comment and debate as well. The tool currently draws information from three key documents: the Constitution of Zimbabwe (at 13th Feb, 2009), Amendment 19, and the Kariba Draft Constitution. This is just the start: the information system will be developed to include more voices, more drafts proposing future changes, and a wider selection of thoughts on the constitution as we go forwards. We hope that the comments system will gather the views of Zimbabweans everywhere and help to develop a rich source of information and insightful opinion.

The resource provides audiences with a variety of ways to explore critical documents. We have simplified the process of accessing information from long legal documents by breaking the nitty-gritty detail into maneagable relevant chunks. Visitors to our site can explore the content of these documents by filtering through clearly defined sections, or by finding areas of interest flagged by 'key phrases', or by using a special predictive search tool.

The system enables users to compare and contrast the different approaches to constitutional law - as they appear in different texts - by filtering on and displaying entries on related topics right next to each other on the screen. In other words, users can easily and quickly see exactly how the Kariba Draft Constitution differs from the current Constitution of Zimbabwe (for example) on a section by section basis.

We invite people to give an anonymous personal 'approval rating' to sections of the law by awarding stars to entries (1 star reflects a damning public approval rating of "rubbish", while 5 stars is a high scoring "excellent"). The final average score for each entry will give an approval rating for the way the law has been dealt with in each document. Our online system has a section that highlights which entries have the highest ratings and it also flags those that score low in our audiences opinion.

Visit www.sokwanele.com/zimbabweconstitution to explore the constitutional law as it currently is today, and to see what the Kariba Draft Constitution has to say about the shape of our future. Be informed of both the strengths and weaknesses accross different texts; look carefully at the detail and consider the implications that detail has for all of us as we go forward; think about what's missing and what you would like to be included.

Be involved and be aware. Get ready to discuss and debate. Above all, prepare to vote in the referendum from an informed perspective.