Founding Principles in the COPAC Draft Constitution – Part 2


  1.     Gender equality

At birth boys and girls are equal. Gender inequality starts when society assigns certain roles to and has certain expectations from a girl as compared to a boy. So as children grow up they are taught (socialised) to think differently from their opposite sex. Boys are taught to play with cars while girls are given dolls. Girls are taught to cook and clean the house while boys are taught to do the gardening or fix the electrical appliances or herd the cattle. Girls are told gardening is not for them while boys are told cooking is for girls. Boys are sent to school while girls are taken out if there isn’t enough money to pay for both sexes because it is assumed the girl will fall pregnant and fail to complete school anyway causing the family to have wasted money on her education. These stereotypes are reinforced and can be seen in the negative attitudes of society towards men or women who choose to reason or behave differently. The COPAC Draft Constitution states that the law should not allow these things to happen. Girls and boys, men and women should be treated equally. They should receive equal pay for equal work, should have equal access to education, and should have equal chances to compete for jobs and all other opportunities.

2.      Good governance

The COPAC Draft Constitution identifies good governance as a core value of Zimbabwean society that should be followed at all times. Good governance can be defined through identifying its main components. These are transparency, accountability, rule of law, participation, effectiveness, efficiency, equity, inclusivity and responsiveness.

Participation refers to the ability of citizens to take part in and be represented in all processes that shape their lives.

Rule of law means that all laws apply with equal force to private citizens and public servants alike and all disputes are resolved in accordance with the laws which have been adopted by democratically elected representatives of the people. Where there is rule of law, institutions are placed beyond the reach of ordinary politics and cannot be manipulated for the gain of a few individuals. Where there is rule of law minorities are protected.

Effectiveness and efficiency mean that the wishes of the population are delivered in accordance with prescribed processes, regulations and laws.

Accountability touches the state, citizens and all juristic and natural persons. This means all are responsible for their actions and decisions and must account for them where they are required to do so.

Transparency refers to the openness of processes for instance citizens must be assured free and fair elections, they must know how state funds are spent and they can demand performance from their political leaders.

Responsiveness means that governance processes must adapt to the evolving needs of a society.

 

Equity and inclusivity refer to the representation of all views, races, ethnicities, genders in the governance processes.

The opposite of good governance is bad governance. Bad governance is where the government is corrupt, unfair, racist, and is one that marginalises certain groups of people such as women, the disabled or people of certain ethnic origins, one that is violent and repressive or that only gives benefits to people who voted for it to come into power, side-lining those who did not.

Transparency, accountability, rule of law, participation, equity, inclusivity and responsiveness should therefore exist in relationships between government and businesses, between the government and citizens, between the businesses and citizens, between elected officials and appointed officials, between local government councils and urban and rural dwellers, between legislature (parliament and senate) and executive branches, and within other state institutions.

3.      Expansion of official languages to 15

Did you know that our current constitution only recognises one language as the official language and that language is English, our colonial language? Ok, so maybe that has helped us to speak good English but it has damaged our linguistic heritage. Zimbabweans are not proud to speak their local languages. The expansion of official languages to 15 will mean that these languages are recognised and can be used for all official purposes including education in schools, conversing in banks, in courts of law, in official meetings and all other spheres. This will remove barriers for people in accessing justice and education using a language they understand and are familiar with. This will help us embrace who we are and help us to be proud of our heritage.

4.      Promotion of public awareness of the Constitution

Many Zimbabweans have no idea why the Lancaster House Constitution is a bad constitution because no one ever bothered to tell them, including government. The COPAC Draft Constitution places an obligation on the state to ensure that people know and understand the Constitution. This is a very positive development.

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