Constitutional Dialogues to conscientise communities
The Centre for Applied Legal Research (CALR), working in cooperation with the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) – Zimbabwe Chapter and the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), conducted a series of community constitutional dialogue meetings in four provinces; being Midlands, Bulawayo Metropolitan and Matabeleland North and South.
The constitutional dialogue meetings were held in Gweru, on the 9th of November 2020 and on the 10th of November 2020, a similar public constitutional dialogue meeting was held in Bulawayo. On the 11th and 12th of November 2020 more dialogue meetings were held in Lupane and Gwanda respectively.
The constitutional dialogue meetings are designed to not only foster citizens participation in constitutional matters but also to conscientise the communities in understanding and appreciating their constitutional rights to enable the full enjoyment and realization of their constitutionally guaranteed rights.
In the above dialogues’ meetings CALR, MISA and SARDC representatives were able to deepen public knowledge and widen public awareness concerning constitutional issues. Issues that were discussed during the dialogues include the following;
- Service delivery related rights and devolution of powers and resources
- An overview of the Bill of Rights and the accompanying State Obligations
- Realization of socio-economic rights with a focus on the province concerned
As a platform, the dialogue meetings enabled constitutional mentors identified by CALR and its partners to engage and educate the public which was comprised of media practitioners, community leaders and other members of society.
The mentors hired by CALR and its partners were;
- Mr Tanaka Muganyi – a human rights lawyers, Zimbabwe Media Commission commissioner & a legal practitioner
- Dr Edson Mutema – an expert on local governance issues
- Dr Gift Manyatera – an expert in constitutional and human rights law
Dr Cornelius Ncube – an expert in devolution, development studies & local governance issues
These constitutional dialogues meetings gave participants the opportunity to become better acquainted with the Bill of Rights and its limitations as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Participants were also instructed on how to make use of constitutional provisions in claiming their rights and services owed.