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Justice Mavedzenge, Senior Program Officer for Freedom House in Zimbabwe, served as a lead researcher for the report on Zimbabwe's proposed draft constitution.
Realizing that the current constitution of Zimbabwe is flawed in many respects and has contributed to the crisis in Zimbabwe, the parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) agreed to embark on a process of developing a new constitution that would address some of the critical contributing factors to the Zimbabwe crisis. As prescribed under Article 6 of the GPA, a parliamentary select committee on the new constitution (COPAC) was established to drive this process. Given that COPAC has now produced a draft constitution, the question that is asked by many Zimbabweans as well as the regional and international community, is how far does this draft constitution seek to address some of the major constitutional issues that are at the center of the crisis of governance in Zimbabwe?
These constitutional issues include the absence of a legal framework that effectively promotes the observance of human rights, ineffective separation of powers, excessive and unchecked presidential authority, over centralization of power in the national government as well as absence of free and fair elections. Addressing these issues is not entirely dependent on a good constitution alone, but the political will to implement that constitution to its letter and spirit. The question of the day, however, is whether the draft produced by COPAC adequately responds to these issues. Overally, this proposed draft constitution is better than the current constitution of Zimbabwe. It is a step forward in the process of building democracy in Zimbabwe as it captures the critical aspect of separation of powers, embodies the culture of fundamental rights, constitutionalism as well as limited presidential authority.