The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said Tuesday that the current constitutional revision process lacks openness and transparency and the basic document that it eventually produces will lack legitimacy.
The group predicted that the current process will only produce a transitional document with a new constitution to be written under a new substantive government. Zimbabwe is currently governed by a chronically divided government of national unity.
Human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa launched a publication from the group entitled "Zimbabwe's Constitutional Drafts - Comparisons and Recommendations."
Mtetwa said stakeholders are inadequately represented on the parliamentary committee responsible for the revision process, citing interference with the document's drafters.
Mtetwa said it was regrettable that the constitution is being drafted in polarized and repressive environment, with meetings to discuss issues being banned.
The book reviews key provisions of three constitutional drafts produced since 2000 and sets out issues that it argued must be addressed in any proper constitution.
Douglas Mwonzora, co-chairman of the parliamentary committee for the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai welcomed the publication. The other two governing parties could not be reached for comment.
Arnold Tsunga, director of the Africa Regional Program of the International Commission of Jurists, said the position of the human rights lawyers is consistent with the thinking of many in the country. He said policymakers need to react in a sensitive and sensible manner especially as the recommendations are coming from experts in the field.
“The government that is there is a product of the mediation by the Southern African Development Community. For it to come to an end its going to be important for this government to adopt some form of constitution which then allows for SADC to certify that Zimbabweans are now firmly in control of their own destiny and are no longer under the supervision or oversight of SADC, in terms of political reforms,” Tsunga said.
He said that the "forces of resistance" to change are so strong it is unlikely that people will be able to effectively define their own future in the form of a new constitution.