Thursday, January 28, 2010
By Media and Publications Officer
Participants at the Youth Think Tank meeting held at Habakkuk Trust yesterday have stressed the need for the new constitution to protect the rights of the ordinary citizens.
Youths who spoke passionately on the need to have a constitutional framework that guarantees not only the freedom to exercise one’s rights also called for fair and just mechanisms for the protection of human rights.
This therefore calls for the capacity building of all law enforcement agents as they have been violating people rights both by default and by design, said the participants.
Francis, a university student, reiterated that “We have seen arbitrary arrests and searching on the streets and if you challenge it the police beat you thoroughly, and even if you comply they beat you again.” “We need to change from the current system where by the police, if they suspect you to be a criminal, they ‘shoot and then ask questions later’” pleaded Bhekumuzi Moyo.
The youths further stressed the need for the new constitution to mandate the government to speedily domesticate international laws and protocols. Other issues that emerged as pertinent during the meeting were the rights to information, the right to protection, the freedom after speech and freedom to exercise one’s rights without fear.
The meeting also brought out the need for the National Youth Council to be completely overhauled and be constitutionally constituted so as to effectively address the needs and concerns of youths irrespective of political affiliations.
“The National Youth Service was as a very noble idea that was unfortunately badly executed as it fell on the wrong hands,” observed Pastor Muchina who also said the institute should tap from international youth service institutions and concentrate in teaching life skills, values, and nationhood and empower youths to be responsible citizens.
The meeting that was attended by youths from various sectors that included CSOs, churches and Habakkuk Trust Action Teams discussed issues to do with Youth representation at decision making levels, the majority age and bill of rights.
The Habakkuk Trust sector Think Tanks continue today with a Think Tank for the Women and specifically tackling the thematic areas of Women and Gender, Land, Natural Resources and Empowerment and Bill of Rights.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Participants stressed the need for a new order that will ensure that there is proper devolution of power that will entail local people getting control of local resources. They also agreed that there should be provincial legislatures to enable legislatures to be in touch with the people. “Sikhathele ngokwenzelwa izinto yiHarare kasiphiwe lathi amandla okuzibambela okwethu” reiterated Masibonge Ncube from Entumbane. (We are fade up with the centralized system where the capital, Harare, controls everything. We should be given powers to run our own affairs).
Another participant stressed the need for the security services like the Army, the Police and the Central Intelligence Organisation to report directly to parliament instead of reporting to the presidency. This they said will help to protect the security of the civilians than that of individuals in power.
Reverend Sibindi pointed out that there should be clear mechanisms for government to
report back to the people instead of the one-way upward information flow that exists now.
Another issue of interest during the Think Tank was the presidential term of office. Participants consented that the term of office for the president should be two terms of five years.
The Habakkuk Trust Programmes Manager Miss Belinda Gumbo explains that there will be a series of Think Tanks targeting various community interest groups in preparation for the COPAC Constitutional Outreach programme. She also explained that the Think Tanks come in as a vital tool to mobilize the community to start thinking critically on the contents of the constitution so that when the Outreach Teams come, there will be informed contributions.
Today (27 January 2010) there will be another Think Tank targeting the Youth sector and themes to be discussed are the Youth and Empowerment and the Bill of Rights.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
CONSTITUTION MAKING PROCESS GETS INTO GEAR.
By Khumbulani Maphosa (Media and Publications Officer)
The training of the Constitutional Outreach Teams by the Parliamentary Select Committee came to an end on the 13th of January 2010. However the teams are yet to be notified of their deployment details paving way for the actual beginning of the historic constitution making process.
According to the Select Committee there will be seventy Outreach Teams that will cover the seventy districts of the country. Each team was supposed to have nine members, that is, three Members of Parliament and six Civic Society representatives. However after a lot of political bickering and negotiations the three parties in government resolved to add three more rapportuers, each representing one of the parties. This has however irked discontent from some quarters that have observed the process as being heavily politicized.
The deployment of the Outreach Teams has not been finalized, as there is speculation that the Select Committee Secretariat is yet to do a thorough audit of the Outreach Team members. This follows an unfortunate scenario that saw about one thousand people being accredited and trained instead of the initially advertised six hundred and thirty-eight.
Ideally there are supposed to be three meetings per ward in the rural areas and one meeting per ward in the urban areas. This is meant to cater for the spatial geography of rural wards and the settlement patterns that are not as clustered as in the cities and towns.
Habakkuk Trust will continue monitoring the Constitution making process and disseminating information to various stakeholders on how the process is unfolding. The organisation will also work closely with its Advocacy Action Teams to mobilize communities to fully participate in the outreach meetings that are expected to begin soon.