Position Paper from Zimbabwe National Youth Consultation on DGtrends | Zimbabwe | Rule Of Law



YOUTH ADVOCATES ZIMBABWE 55121 MNGWENDE STREET MAKONI BUSINESS CENTRE, MAKONI P.O BOX 502, CHITUNGWIZA ZIMBABWE Tel: +263772546488/+263777469107,+263778037562 Email: youthadvocateszim@gmail.com www.stayingaliveconnected.org/yaz www.youthadvocateszim.org

Coordinator: Tatenda Songore

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Acknowledging commitment of the Zimbabwean government to the principles enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union, particularly Articles 3 and 4, which emphasise the significance of good governance, popular participation, the rule of law and human rights; Concerned by the continued marginalization of the youth voice and participation on issues directly affecting them in the post-independence era, Appreciating the efforts being put in place by the new government informed by the letter and spirit of the New Constitution and recent general elections, to address the economic, social, educational, cultural and spiritual needs of youth. Noting state committed to promote the universal values and principles of democracy, good governance, human rights and the right to youth development Considering the role that youth have played in the process of decolonisation, the struggle against apartheid and more recently in its efforts to encourage the development and to promote the democratic processes in Zimbabwe Noting that the promotion and protection of the rights of youth also implies the performance of duties by youth as by all other actors in society;

Constitutionalism and Rule of law in Zimbabwe Background
Zimbabwe’s new constitution, signed into law on May 22, 2013, enshrines the country’s domestic human rights obligations. The preamble to the constitution recognizes “the need to entrench democracy, good, transparent and accountable governance and the rule of law,” and reaffirms, “commitment to upholding and defending fundamental human rights and freedoms of youth.” Zimbabwe’s international human rights obligations are derived from the many international human rights conventions to which Zimbabwe is party to including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as customary international law. Under a power-sharing government between ZANU PF and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from February 2009 to July 2013, a number of human rights reforms were initiated, including enactment of the new constitution with a much broader bill of rights than its Lancaster House predecessor. To put Zimbabwe on a democratic and rightsrespecting path leading to genuinely credible, free and fair elections, and to a durable human-rights environment, the new government administration led by ZANU PF is yet to
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reaffirm and ensure the realization of the rights provisions contained in the new constitution through making concrete commitments to youth. Zanu PF had a landslide victory in elections that were endorsed by observers as free and reflective of the will of the people despite reports of opposition leaders arrests, youth meetings banned, some political rallies blocked by riot police, allegations of judicial interference and ministerial corruption, smear campaigns in government media and threats and lawsuits against journalists are not part of the image most people now have. The need to streamline the concerns and perspectives of young people into the discourse on Constitutionalism and Rule of Law in Zimbabwe cannot be overemphasised. However in the recent constitutional making processes only 22, 58% of the participants were youth, reflecting lack of youth participation in policy making processes which in turn neglects the voice, opinions, and ideas of the future generation that could be vital in enhancing constitutionalism and rule of law. During a survey conducted in preparation of this paper, 60% of young people said that the education curricular does not prepare youth to meaningfully contribute constitutionalism and rule of law whilst 40% said it partly prepare them. 85% of youth said that they were not sure if elections results reflected the will of the people whilst 10% said they did not. Knowledge levels of the current constitution and rule of law was at 42.8%. It has been noted that constitutionality is not enough and that to promote democracy, it is necessary to implement the principle of constitutionalism. Whilst youth applaud the inclusion of reserved seats for women and people with disability (as enshrined in the new constitution) during the recent elections, there was little political support for aspiring youth candidates as they had to compete with traditional heavy weights in politics. Nevertheless, youth remain resolute that we are the leaders of today and shall continue to carry the torch of democracy, characterized by meaningful youth participation at each and every level of local and national decision making. For the youths who are living in poverty and on the margins of society, the difference between normal life and what outsiders define as a crisis might be marginal. According to a report by Now Zimbabwe, poverty and exclusion are themselves a kind of chronic emergency. This is to such an extent that even modest changes in their situation may enable the youths to either increase their toe hold on survival, or plunge them into deeper crisis. At present participation by the youth in issues that affect their own development is minimal or to be more accurate next to zero. United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights report also say the fact that 1/5 of the world’s population is affected by poverty, hunger , diseases , mortality and insecurity is sufficient ground for concluding that the economic ,social and cultural rights of those persons are being denied on a massive scale. Although Zimbabwe has introduced a number of globally accepted principles on the legislative systems- ineffective implementation, lack of monitoring and evaluation systems, and corruption results in a lack of accountability weakening the implementation and

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rationalization of rule of law system. Absence of evaluation also means the youth fail to learn from past initiatives. Therefore their capacity is compromised. Corruption, vested political and partisan interests contribute to massive compromise in effective implementation of the constitution and obstructs the access to information and justice and en-curtailment of the freedom of speech. Voice of youth is nullified.

• The overriding challenge to Zimbabwe’s democratization process is the ubiquitous role of the military and other state security organs in the political and electoral affairs of the country. Partisan discriminatory age limits and other limits like some five years of holding particular position in a political body for one to be eligible to stand as MP or represent people. Political labelling of youth activists and their organisations and opposition supporters, Youth leaders arrested, youth meetings banned, allegations of judicial interference and ministerial corruption, smear campaigns in government media and threats and lawsuits against youth have also been cited as issues by youth,

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• • • Political parties should acknowledge that young people are as important as adults in terms of assuming positions of power so that they have influence in decision making. Young people should participate fully not as mobilisers of support but as people with intention to lead others. Young people should not be victims of the justice system. Their rights should be protected, as should be the rights of everyone else. Democratic processes are only as effective as the citizens who take part in them. Enhance constitutionalism and rule of law information flow among youth through seminars, workshops, and lectures and school curricular; Ensure youth constitutionalism education equitable distribution of information and use modern telecommunication facilities in both urban and rural service areas; Integrate available sources of information to enhance accessibility and visibility of youth information needs; Youth urges the new administration to immediately amend or substantially repeal a number of laws to bring them in line with the provisions of the new constitution. For instance, article 208 of the new constitution states that members of the security services – the Defence Forces, the Police, the Central Intelligence Organization, and the Prison Service – must be non-partisan.

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Implementation of this provision requires legislative amendments to the Police Act, Defence Act, Prisons Act, and enactment of legislation to govern operations of the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO). The new administration should also take necessary measures to ensure that appointments, training and conduct of members of the army, police and CIO conform to the requirements of strict political neutrality in the discharge of their duties. The incoming administration should work to improve respect for human rights by government officials at all levels and seek international assistance to provide appropriate training and education to members of the police and other state agencies on human rights and youth friendly services. Additionally, the government of Zimbabwe should repeal or substantially amend repressive legislation including the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, the Interception of Communications Act (ICA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), the Miscellaneous Offences Act (MOA), and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) to bring them in line with Zimbabwe’s international human rights obligations. Going forward, the state should establish an independent civilian authority charged with receiving complaints and investigating allegations of crimes committed by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, military and armed forces To honour its human rights obligations and not interfere with the rights of civil society organizations to freely operate across the country and without fear of harassment or intimidation. The government of Zimbabwe should work in a manner that guarantees the full implementation and realization of the rights to freedom of association and assembly and the promotion of freedom of expression and communication. Ensure that every youth development policy is constitutional and has clear information and communication component; Increase allocations for youth development and youth-related programme that enhance constitutionalism and rule of law; State should take steps to collaborate with the youth in constitutional projects which could lead to better understanding of constitutionalism and rule of law issues. Finally, good governance is necessary in enhancing constitutionalism and rule of law for effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies.

Capacity Building
Government should form collaborations with international organizations so that knowledge, expertise and external help are available to the country to actively tackle governance and constitutional issues. Civil society, youth associations’ academia, and the government should exchange ideas, information, and constitutional expertise regarding constitutional alignment with various
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acts of government through dialogue sessions and public seminars. Constitutional and Rule of law studies can be introduced as a compulsory subject in pre-tertiary education institutions. Civil society and private sectors should establish an active collaboration with local communities, especially the youth, to educate the community and act as an avenue where members of the community can turn to for constitutional and rule of law advice and help. Annual events that promote awareness can be adopted and actively participated in across Zimbabwe. These actions will enable better understanding and keep the people updated on constitutional matters..

Public Awareness Engagement
Government should prioritize and allocate proper funding for mechanisms which are designed to increase public awareness and engagement mechanisms in place to facilitate their voice, such as the Zimbabwe Youth Council and it’s affiliate youth associations, giving proper consideration to their recommendations, and implementing them at the local and national level. Youth participation must be made compulsory in legal documents.

Conclusion The government of Zimbabwe has important legal obligations under African and international human rights treaties that require it to respect the rights to life, bodily integrity, and liberty and security of the person, as well as freedoms of expression, association, and assembly. Constitutional development in Zimbabwe will not take us anywhere unless it is accompanied by a change of mindset, where constitutionalism is elevated more than constitutions and the rule of law is upheld by both state and right holders who are youth. It is important for youth to understand their role as citizens in a country that is almost authoritarian and to realise that it is the citizenry that can decompress authoritarian systems and turn them to democracies. Consulted Organizations Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Zimbabwe Youth Council(ZYC), Achieve Your Goal Trust (AYGT), Build A Better Youth Zimbabwe (BABY ZIM); Bulawayo Agenda, Catholic Commission for Justice & Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJPZ), Christian Care, Christian Alliance, Christian Youth in Business (CYB), Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), Chitungwiza Vocational Training, Concerned Youth, Restless Development, Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe, FACT Mutare, General Agriculture & Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), Habakkuk Trust, Intcha Group, Masvingo Residents & Ratepayers Association, Mavambo Kusile Dawn, MDC (M), MDC (T), Mutare Residents & Ratepayers Association, NANGO, National Youth Development Trust , Padare Men’s Forum on Gender, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Radio Dialogue, Savanna Trust, Simukai Child Protection Programme, Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST), Sports Africa Trust (SAT), Students and Youth Working on Reproductive Health Team (SAYWHAT), Students Christian Movement in Zimbabwe (SCMZ), Students Solidarity Trust (SST),
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Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ), United Youth Network for Peace & Development (UYNFPD), Women In Politics Support Unit (WIPSU), YEST Mutare, Young Voices Network (YVN), Youth Agenda Trust (YAT), Youth Alliance for Democracy (YAD), Youth Chat, Youth Empowerment & Transformation (YET), Youth Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe (YIDEZ), Youth Unlimited, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights (ZPHR), Zimbabwe Youth Network, Zimrights, Speciss College, Teshe Women’s Movement, ZEYA, Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment. Farai G.Shumba, Mama Mene, Morris Charumbira, Tinashe Jena David Takawira, Rumbidzai Mashavave

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