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Zimbabwe NGOs Blame Constitution-Making Violence on Politicization of Process


Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Director Irene Petrus warned that the process could yield a basic document that panders to the short-term interests of politicians rather than giving the country a long-term framework

A consortium of Zimbabwean civil society organizations that has been monitoring constitutional outreach meetings over the past few months said it documented 2,300 human rights violations in August alone related to the exercise.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Zimbabwe Peace Project attributed the violence to the politicization of the constitutional revision process by political parties. Its report said that parties framed the exercise as contest rather than as an opportunity for people to express their views.

The 20-page report noted increased cancellations of meetings, in many cases because of political disruption. The consortium said 70 meetings were canceled in August compared with 55 in July.

But the group said that despite such problems, progress has been made with 1,155 meetings conducted as of the end of August – nearly double the number held as of the end of July. It said levels of participation have increased.

Still, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Director Irene Petrus warned that the process could yield a basic document that panders to the short-term interests of politicians rather than giving the country a long-term framework.

Elsewhere, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Revision was set to finalize the dates for rescheduled outreach meetings in Harare, where numerous meetings were marred by violence the weekend of September 18-19, following a meeting of an expanded management committee including members of the Cabinet.

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