By Fortune Moyo (Media and Publications Officer)
The Local Level Advocacy Programme (LLAP) encourages citizen participation in decision-making processes and also makes them aware of their rights as citizens. It is in this vein that Habakkuk Trust continues in its constitution-making process awareness programme in the communities, where it enlightens the communities on the constitution-making process and how they can be part of the process.
Habakkuk Trust took the awareness programme to Gwanda on the 27th of August 2009, where Habakkuk teams went to Zhukwe East-West, Datata-Silikwe and Dambashoko. A total of 100 participants, from the three Action Teams where taken through sessions on the process and content of the constitution making process.
In Zhukwe, the 49 participants present engaged in heated discussions on issues of rights with a specific interest in women and orphan rights. One woman summed up her concerns when she said “Bayasincindezela thina omama,ngitsho imbiza lemiganu kayibizi thina ibiza omkethu (We are being oppressed as women, even our plates and pots are owned by our husbands).”
There were some expressions that point to a lack of faith in the process as one of the participants felt that views of the ordinary citizen might not be considered when he said “Ubona angani thina abantukazana bangasilalela na? Bangafaka yini izikhalazo zethu kuConstitution (Do you think that anyone will listen to the voices of the ordinary people that we are? Do you think they can actually include our suggestions in the Constitution?),”
The headman made it clear that as a community, they want a bottom-up approach, where they are part of every process, not a top-down process where everything is imposed upon them, including the Constitution itself.
“Sifuna izinto ezivela phansi zisiyaphezulu, hatshi okuvela phezulu kusiza phansi.”(we want bottom up and not top down processes)
Dambashoko had 23 participants, 6 of whom were youths. At the end of the meeting the participants were able to identify issues that they wanted included in the constitution, and which they are going to bring up during the consultative meetings. They identified the right to education for their children as a priority in the new constitution.
Miss Siphiwe Dube buttressed the point by saying, “Mina bengabuya ngizabatshela ukuthi ngifuna abantwana bebelelungelo labo lokufunda (when the outreach teams come to our areas, I will tell them that our children’s right to education should be a priority),”
The 28 participants who were at Silikwe acknowledged the importance of their participation in the constitution-making process. Mr Nkomo said, “It is important for us to be part of the process, because the Constitution reflects my aspirations as a human being.”
Mr Dube, the Convener also said it was important for them to spread the knowledge and information they had gained to other people.
“It is our duty to spread the information to other people. That is what we were taught during the advocacy training,” he said.
These meetings have revealed that there is a huge information gap in the communities as far as the process is concerned. Habakkuk Trust will therefore continue to monitor the constitution making process to ensures that through its various community action teams information filters to the people. It is a Habakkuk Trust priority that the process should be as people driven possible.