Momentum in the Constitution Making Process in Zimbabwe is building up. Last week, the Ministry of Women Affairs Gender and Community Development organised a Women’s Consultative Conference which was attended by women from various professional disciplines. The Conference sought to de-mystify the Constitutional Making Process and raise awareness on the steps the process will follow.
I found Honourable D. Mwonzora’s presentation during the Conference very useful to me. It answered a lot of questions I had about the Constitution Making Process. He explained how the process was going to flow right up to the time a referendum is tabled. Of significance is the Select Committee’s (comprises Members of parliament from ZANU PF and the two MDC formations) efforts to ensure a people driven process through Provincial Consultative Meetings through out the country. While the Provincial Consultative Meetings are a noble idea in ensuring that the process is people driven, the general public are not aware of the importance of participation and therefore may not involve themselves. Women are part of this group of people that I fear may be left out in the engagement of stakeholders in different provinces of the country. The Provincial Consultative Meetings are scheduled for 24 – 27 June 2009 and that leaves little time for awareness raising and for women in particular to organise themselves and select their representatives.
One other aspect that may not be clear to many people is the fact that contrary to what has been reported in the media, people of Zimbabwe are going to make a new constitution thus the importance of involving as many Zimbabweans as possible. People are not going to revise a draft that has been worked on by representatives from the political parties. It may be a challenge however, to get people to participate both in rural and urban Zimbabwe as most are worried about bread and butter issues whose effect is directly evident in their lives.
I am particularly interested in women’s participation as this is an opportunity for us to ensure that our social and economic rights are guaranteed in the new Constitution. For us to see change, we need to raise awareness among our female counterparts so that they understand the importance of a constitution and how it affects their lives. This period is indeed an opportunity for Zimbabweans, constitutions unlike leaders are not changed every once in a while.