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CSOs Raise Concern Over Zimbabwe’s Democratic Trajectory

Local Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) under the banner of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) have voiced their deep concerns about the country’s political and democratic trajectory.

In a statement to mark the 11th anniversary of the country’s Constitution, CiZC spokesperson Marvellous Khumalo said despite the promise of a “progressive” constitution, Zimbabwe continues to grapple with shrinking democratic space.

“The constitution calls on all duty bearers to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights guaranteed by it, with the judiciary responsible for enforcing them,” said Khumalo

He lamented that despite the transition from the Lancaster House constitution, the expected democratic gains have been overshadowed by persistent authoritarian tendencies.

“The “progressive” constitution adopted in 2013 was supposed to mark a great transition from the Lancaster House constitution but it is regrettable that despite the remarkable gains that were supposed to be realized from the supreme law, authoritarianism, repression and the ideology of a one-party State continue to characterize the political landscape in Zimbabwe,” said Khumalo

Khumalo noted that since the constitution’s adoption following the March 2013 referendum, there has been a stark lack of political will from the government and the ruling party to implement the constitution in ways that genuinely promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

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“Very few laws have been fully aligned with the constitution. Instead, numerous amendments have been introduced that contravene the principles of democracy and good governance,” Khumalo said

One of the coalition’s primary concerns is the ruling party’s recent push to amend the constitution to remove the two-term presidential limit, potentially allowing President Emmerson Mnangagwa to run for a third term.

“Such amendments strip Zimbabweans of their fundamental rights and derail the progress made since the constitution was first established,” he said

The coalition reiterated that the constitution should remain a “sacred, living and binding document” beyond political manipulation.

“Tampering with the constitution for personal interests erodes democratic values and signals a betrayal of the constitution overwhelmingly endorsed by Zimbabwean citizens,” added Khumalo

Reflecting on the broader African context, the coalition underscored the importance of both citizen engagement and demand in ensuring the effective implementation of constitutional provisions.

The 11th anniversary of the constitution Khumalo said serves as a critical moment for reflection on both the progress and setbacks experienced since its adoption.

He said the coalition envisions the creation of a grassroots-based movement uniting a diverse array of stakeholders—civil society organizations, war veterans, residents’ associations, youth groups, women’s groups, workers’ associations, the Church, representatives from the informal sector, and other progressive forces.

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The goal is to promote constitutionalism in Zimbabwe, with a particular focus on upholding citizens’ rights.

“Facilitating citizen engagement with duty bearers at all levels of government, promoting social inclusion, and equity are essential.

“Dialogue and advocacy efforts are key in holding duty bearers accountable to the citizenry, particularly with respect to protecting and promoting constitutional rights. The Coalition is convinced that there is an imperative need for a critical force for promoting democratic values, protecting human rights, and advancing social justice in Zimbabwe,” Khumalo said

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