ZIMBABWE: Women Say Environment Not Good for Constitution Outreach

Saturday, May 15, 2010
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Women's groups want the constitution-making process delayed until the political climate is conducive for outreach teams to carry out their work in yet another potential stumbling block for the process.

This demand was made at a recent civil society cluster meeting organised by the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) ahead of the crucial phase of the process.

The Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) is likely to set the dates for the outreach programme when it meets tomorrow, its co-chairperson, Paul Mangwana said yesterday.

But the women activists say the outreach would be a waste of time as long as the rule of law is still applied selectively and legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act as well as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act are in the statute books.

"The operational environment is currently not conducive for the outreach teams to conduct their work," Nango said.

Activists are also lobbying for more women to be included in subcommittees that would lead the revision of the country's supreme law to promote gender parity.

But Mangwana (Zanu PF) said Copac could not get women representatives for such clusters as priests and that could influence results from the religious sector.

"But we are doing our best to address some of the anomalies," he said. "For example, out of 70 rapporteurs, my party Zanu PF has 34 women and 36 men."

"We are very much supportive of women empowerment but the mistake that women make is demanding instead of asking."

Meanwhile, Mangwana said Copac last Friday failed to set dates for the outreach as it was still waiting for the procurement of materials to be used in the exercise.

He said the dates would most likely be set tomorrow after a meeting with the procurement team which is being supervised by the United Nations Development Programme.

The materials to be bought include audio and video equipment.