10 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Govt to Take New Constitution to the People

THE Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, with financial support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is next month set to start popularising the new constitution countrywide in line with the new governance charter which states that the document should be widely accessible to the ordinary people.

The UNDP also funded the constitution-making process.

Section 7 of the constitution reads: "The state must promote public awareness of this constitution, in particular by (a) translating it into all officially recognised languages and disseminating it as widely as possible; (b) requiring this constitution to be taught in schools and as part of the curricula for the training of members of the security services, the civil service and members and employees of public institutions."

The ministry has produced an abridged and paraphrased version of the new charter, a process also funded by the UNDP. It contains the main issues like Bill of Rights and the Executive.

Justice permanent secretary Virginia Mabiza confirmed that the ministry was set to embark on the project, but could not disclose the total amounts involved in the project or whether UNDP would foot the entire bill.

However, senior sources in the ministry said the UNDP is the chief financier of the programme that will also see some civil society organisations participating. The UNDP provided more than US$30 million for the constitution-making process.

"The programme will be rolled out as a multi-stakeholder project under the leadership of the ministry just as what happened during the Copac (Constitution Parliamentary Committee) exercise. The details of how many people should be in each team and meetings per province are still to be finalised," said a source.

Part of the UNDP fund was used to buy cars and pay for Copac offices, machinery, accommodation, staff allowances and logitstics.

The Copac process was led by the three main political parties in the coalition government -- Zanu PF and the two MDC parties.

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