The Zimbabwean government must make the constitution known to its citizens

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Deep in the remote area under Chief Dakamela in Nkayi district, a group old men and women and a sizeable number of youths gather under the zinc roofed shade to discuss the contents of the new constitution. Hats off to this youth focused organization that has taken upon itself to engage both the young and the old on the constitution, amid difficulties in getting permission from security authorities to carryout constitutional awareness meetings. The greatest challenge in this discussion is that there is only one copy of the constitution to be shared by a group of 20 people. This booklet is written in English and there are old women and men who are finding it difficult to comprehend the English language used in the constitution. What boggles the mind is that a country that brags so much about high literacy levels fails to produce copies of the constitution written in vernacular languages.   

A lot of work still needs to be done to promote public awareness of the constitution. Chapter (1) Section 7 obligates the state to translate the constitution into officially recognized languages in this case the 16 languages stated in the new constitution. It further alludes that the constitution must be taught in schools as part of the curricula, training for the members of the civil service, security services and employees at the public institutions. All these obligations have not been implemented as required by the constitution. Communities are still lamenting abuse and infringement of their rights at public offices. This means that the state is undermining the supremacy of the constitution. Other critical provisions that the state seem to be developing cold feet in implementing is Devolution of government power to provincial and metropolitan councils under Chapter 14 subsection 264. It is now 8 months since the new government came into power and up to date there is no talk about introducing an Act of parliament that will enable Devolution of governmental to provinces. These provisions will empower people to make decisions that address their developmental needs, as it is people are still at the mercy of central government to make decisions on critical issues that affect them. For example floods in Tsholotsho had to wait for a high powered ministerial delegation from the central government in order for flood victims to get assistance.

Due to time that has gone without implementing devolution of governmental power, perceptions that the ZANU PF led government is not sincere about implementing such provisions come into play as the revolutionary party vehemently opposed it during the outreach meetings. It remains to be seen whether the party will respect and honor the constitution and demonstrate the will in making efforts to educate people about the constitution.

The media was awash with the news of the signing of the supreme law of the land under pomp and fanfare at state house but all that hype has died down. The people have been forgotten that they have a right to know the constitution. To a larger extent the document contains their views as gathered during the constitutional outreach programme but some provisions were a result of negotiations between the three political parties that led the process. One will argue that people know the constitution since they voted for it during the referendum but only 3 million Zimbabweans out of over 7 million  eligible to vote participated in the in referendum, which means that a significant number of Zimbabwean do not know anything about the contents of the constitution. Failure by the government to promote public awareness of the constitution is a violation of Chapter 4 subsection 62, which states that every Zimbabwean has the right of access of information held by the state in the interests of public accountability.

The government must develop mechanisms that will enable communities to know the contents of the constitution.

·         It can use the state television, radios though in most parts of the country there is very limited reception of television and radio signal to broadcast programmes that educate people about constitution.

·         Partner with civil society organizations and carryout joint sensitization meetings within communities.

·         Translate the constitution into local languages and distribute to communities.

·         Task all members of parliament to carryout constitutional sensitization meetings in their constituencies.

·         Local authorities to task councilors to carry out constitutional sensitization meetings in their wards

·         Waive seeking of police clearance to discuss constitutional matters as this violates the right of access to information.

·         Introduce information centres in all districts for people to access information on government programmes.

 

 

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Disused mine deaths in South Africa a national disaster

I wonder why the government is not doing anything to repatriate bodies of illegal miners who died in a disused mine in South Africa. To me this is a national disaster, if it was other countries the government would have dispatched a high powered delegation to assist families. Worse all of these men and women were involved in illegal mining due to economic hardships in Zimbabwe that came as a result of bad governance and misplaced priorities. One begins to think maybe the government does not care because the deceased are from Nkayi, Tsholotsho, Gokwe and Plumtree. Unless I am not informed about any meaningful efforts besides that a funeral parlour Kings and Queens ran by a Mr Naran is assisting families of the deceased to bring the bodies back home.
Yes it was illegal not a good right thing to do but one has to imagine the impact of these deaths to the lives of those around them, these men and women were probable breadwinners for their families. I believe they were making their families meet basic fundamental needs. For example
• Paying of school fees for their children, so that means they are likely to drop out of school.
• Providing food for their families, starvation is now knocking on the doors of these families.
• Looking after sick and providing for their medication and health needs, now there will be loss of lives.
• Paying accommodation for their families.
This is a sad story about Zimbabwe and it is surprising that it is not given the prominence that it deserves. So shameful for the country.

The misery of Zimbabwean youths

 http://www.dailynews.co.zw/articles/2014/03/02/the-misery-of-zimbabwean-youths

The misery of Zimbabwean youths

BULAWAYO – Clad in full Zanu PF party regalia, Thembani Nkomo makes his way to the party’s headquarters for a programme he believes might assist him in getting a job.

Arriving, he meets up with hoards of other youths from different working class suburbs.

A clutch of the expectant group comes from as far away asNyamandlovu and Gwanda, are sitting on the hard floor while being discouraged from leaning against the wall.

The sitting arrangement is uncomfortable and Thembani wonders how he will manage to sit for hours in a squashed position and  also pay undivided attention to lengthy lectures as well as instructions.

Individuals who  submitted their applications to different organisations through the party’s officials are asked to stand up to find out whether they followed protocol.

Unfortunately, a young lady who had applied for a nursing job  is asked to sit down because she missed the previous week’s meeting.

One of the party officials takes to the podium and tells the youths they should not come to Zanu PF for money or jobs so that they blame the party when that does not happen.

Confused and disappointed, Themba wonders why he has attended the function, if not for empowerment.

His mind quickly shifts to his troubles and he lapses into a deep trance.

Still in the zombie state all he can hear is the endless repetition of the party chant: “Pamberi ne Zanu PF” reciprocated with a resounding “Pamberi!”

His vision glares at young and vibrant newly inducted party members raising clenched fists.

Although the Zanu PF led government promised to create six million jobs in the next five years, unemployment levels in Zimbabwe have reached alarming levels.

Indigenisation is being touted as the vehicle that will spawn a change of fortunes against deepening unemployment but there is no one benefiting from it.

There is no helping hand for the desperate Zimbabwean youths who have not had the opportunity to get a decent job, forcing a multitude to resort to subsistence trading.

Liquidity problems have culminated in the shutting down of most companies and some relocating to the capital city in a bid to remain profitable, and step back from the brink.

Unemployment has become an incurable disease in the nation.

A number of youths are turning to neighbouring countries for jobs after school.

With the country losing the much-needed skills and ideas to boost other countries.

Michael Ndiweni , coordinator of Youth NAD said high levels of unemployment in the country can be attributed to the collapse of the economy that led to the closure of companies.

He said government is not doing enough to curb unemployment and create opportunities for the youths.

“Government should emphasise artisanship just like it does to academics. By doing so, the country will be able to produce innovative young people who can use their hands and earn a living, instead of waiting to apply for a job in the shrinking economy, and fewer job opportunities are available.

Ndiweni said the government must also take measures to strengthen and formalise the informal economy so as to encourage growth of small informal businesses owned by young people.

He said the number of unemployed youths is very high, which makes youths susceptible to abuse by selfish politicians that aim to settle political scores.

“Youths are given alcohol, then unleashed to beat up others and do other heinous crimes.

“Some youths are forced to migrate and end up doing menial jobs, engaging in prostitution, and other anti-social behaviours,” he said.

Mgcini Moyo, programmes officer at youth empowerment, Intscha.com says government is neglecting its responsibilities.

“When the Zimstats gave out its statistics that there is an unemployment rate of 11 percent, it clearly shows that we are being led by a government that is trying to run away from creating employment for youths.

“The nature of jobs we envision are formal, so that youth can save pensions and access loans,” Moyo said.

He said government should control corruption to create employment.

“Government should intensify its efforts on curbing corruption, so that there will be a fair share of resources for youths.

It should depoliticise State entities so that young people can be able to access jobs,” he added.

Moyo said young people have given up hope of ever getting formal employment and improving the quality of their lives especially in Bulawayo where industries have closed down and executives have been looting machinery, transferring it to other areas.

The MDC  youth chairperson for Bulawayo province Bekithemba Nyathi said his party is planning on having capacity building programmes in cluster districts in a bid to reorganise the youths and empower them with projects so as to create employment.

The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstats) state that Zimbabwe has an unemployment rate of 11 percent, contrary to claims by some economists that the country has a joblessness rate of more than 70 percent.

The survey revealed that at least 3,7 million Zimbabweans are involved in informal sector activities. Women make up  54,6 percent  forming a majority of the people employed in the informal sector.

Out of the country’s total population of 13 061 239, the economically active group stood at 68,8 percent while the economically inactive group was 32,5 percent.

The statistics have stirred a lot of debate among people who consider the data inaccurate, considering commonplace unemployment they witness in their daily lives, particularly among college graduates.

Youth unemployment peaked during the decade of long political and economic crisis that plagued Zimbabwe since 2000.

The unstable economic environment during this period led to the proliferation of the informal sector and parallel (black) market which absorbed most young people as agents and dealers.

With the signing of the Global Political Agreement, the economy stabilised and these activities came to a sudden halt, worsening the plight of the youths.

Against this backdrop, the Government of National Unity took reduction of unemployment to be one of the key areas of action.

The end of the inclusive government dampened the hopes of many youths which has nose-dived and crystallised into utter desperation.