Zimbabwe’s Constitution Obituary: Death at 8

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe signs Zimbabwe’s new constitution into law in the capital Harare, replacing a 33-year-old document forged in the dying days of British colonial rule and paving the way for elections later this year, May 22, 201

Either way we have to celebrate the short life of the Zimbabwean constitution even though we are in sadness and grief on its passing.

We have to appreciate the sense of hope the document has inspired from its inception. A progressive bill of rights, guarantees of freedoms and limitations on the powers of the president were some of the features which made it outstanding.

I started knowing Chapter 20 way before it was born, all those consultation meetings and debates on how it should look like were in my eyes.

The referendum in which 94.5 of the voters asserted their will to be governed under this document left me with a compelling story to tell.

On the second day of the referendum I voted for the first time, I still fantasize about that moment.

22 May 2013 The Constitution was born. At that moment we were all happy even to claim that Mugabe Robert Gabriel was the father, we knew he didn’t like it but for the sake of progress and compromise he agreed and a new baby was born.

Prof Madhuku and some few were objecting but what could happen when nearly 95% said yes.

The then Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga said then:

“This day is an historic day, it’s about the future,”

Little did he know that our beloved constitution will be murdered within less than a decade.

We should have seen it coming though alignment of laws to the constitution was moving at a cameleon pace, old repressive laws remained operational whilst halfhearted reforms find workarounds to return to the previous settings.

We may not have enjoyed much under this constitution however the hope it offered and what’s left if it are foundations we can build from as we search for a new constitution.

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[Development Professional, MSc Development Economics, Rural Development]

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