• Reply to: Truth or Lies?

    27th November 2017

    There is a question that should be on everyone’s lips today. If all it takes is an impeachment process to finally get rid of Robert Mugabe, why did we need a “non-coup” coup? This “non-coup” coup has taken the country into the most perilous position, inches away from becoming sanctioned by SADC, the AU and the rest of the world. As we go forward into whatever new (and most likely old) political arrangement, the army and ZANU-PF must explain to the nation the justification for violating the constitution when there was a ready-made constitutional mechanism already at hand.
    This is not trivial. While everyone tip-toes around using the word coup, it is obvious that all governments, regional, continental and international, are completely aware that it is a coup, but no-one, for obvious reasons, want to say this officially. If they do, then a rapid chain of events must happen. Diplomatic relations must be cut, and a whole range of actions, perhaps even including military action, have to come into play. So everyone plays it down, watches, and waits in hope that an internal solution emerges that does not look like the end point of a coup. But every move so far seems to demonstrate this.
    And so the big question remains, as does a subsidiary question.
    If Emmerson Mnangagwa was so popular in the party, as seems evident today – 10 Provinces and the Central Committee wanted him – why the indirect route of a coup, and not the completely constitutional route of voting Robert Mugabe out at the Congress in December. It seems to be a pattern repeating itself: it suggests that ZANU-PF cannot reform, cannot place constitutionalism above means-end opportunism, and is never willing to test popularity through open contests.
    It also looks suspiciously like Emmerson Mnangagwa could not have won an internal popularity test within ZANU-PF, and needed the “non-coup” coup to achieve this. There is something very uncomfortable about winning an internal election via the power of the state military. This is not a great model for democracy no matter how deep the political crisis in the country.
    This bodes ill for the future. Mugabe has gone and this is clearly cause for celebration, but we must all wonder whether “Mugabism” has gone, and whether the “new” ZANU-PF will show itself capable of reform into a truly modern political party.
    The coming weeks will reveal how much change is likely to come, and, with the near-certain creation of a ZANU-PF headed government of national unity, how much reform will take place. We have been here before. A ZANU-PF dominated GNU in 2009 provided no meaningful reforms, and controlled the constitutional process to the gates of the election in 2013: this prevented any possible challenge to its hegemony through the constitution during the life of the GNU.
    Now that the citizens have found their voice, and their feet, it will be their task more than ever to ensure that any new political configuration adheres rigidly to both the constitution and constitutionalism, undertakes the reforms necessary to undo state capture and securocracy, and takes a truly developmental approach to improving the lives of the citizens.
    And so, it is important always to begin a new relationship based on the truth, no matter how uncomfortable the truth is. Building a relationship on lies, no matter how expedient or necessary they may be, inevitably leads to tears, divorce, and, in politics, to yet another “non-coup” coup. We watch with critical interest.

    ​Dedicated to delivering clarity, direction and guidance leading to successful results in your legal challenge, our focus is on YOU.Lawyer canning vale

    tony
  • Reply to: Women's Political Leagues

    This paper, a first in the series of women's political leagues, is a literature review paper, providing an overview of the information on women's political leagues and wings that exist already. It explores the organization, structure and role women's leagues play in increasing the political participation of women. It also examines the challenges women's leagues face, hindering the progress of both their agenda and those of the women in the political environment. Closer to home, the paper wille examine the two major political parties in Zimbabwe and and the fucntionality of their women's wings. 

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    admin
  • Reply to: Law vs Culture: Judgment on Age of Marriage in Zimbabwe

    By Kuda Chitsike

    Last month, Zimbabwe ramped up legal measures to end child marriage, a hopeful sign for a dire problem.

    Child marriage is widely recognized as a violation of children's rights, and it is generally described as the marrying of (primarily) girls under the age of 18. According to UNICEF, in Southern Africa 33 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married in childhood. It is direct discrimination of the girl child, who, as a result, is often deprived of her basic rights to health, education, development, and equality.  It also exposes girls to intimate partner violence and isolation from economic activities which have long lasting psychological consequences. Tradition, religion, patriarchy and poverty continue to fuel the practice of child marriage, despite its strong association with adverse consequences for girls.

    For more than a decade there has been a sustained and dedicated effort by policymakers, government ministries, U.N. bodies, international and local non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations and individual activists to end child marriage in Zimbabwe. All these efforts culminated in a case being brought before Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court in January 2015, with the judgement coming a year later that finally outlawed marriage before 18 for both girls and boys.

    The case was brought by Loveness Mudzure and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi, (two former child brides), who, through their lawyer, Tendai Biti, took the courageous step of challenging the Marriages Act, which had allowed girls to marry before the age of 18. This case was brought with the support of non-governmental organisations, Roots, Veritas and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). 

    The judgment is very welcome as the Marriages Act set the legal age for marriage at 16 for girls and 18 for boys, which contradicts the Constitution that promotes gender equality. Zimbabwe followed in the footsteps of other Southern African countries that have set 18, and, in some instances 21, as the legal age of marriage. Most recently Malawi did this, but many of these countries have exceptions where girls are allowed to marry as early as 15, if they have parental consent.  As we celebrate this judgment, there is a need to look at the issues of child marriage and consent to sex holistically and educate society because the issue is interpreted in a confusing manner in our conservative and religious society.

    The Criminal Codification and Reform Act states that girls under 12 cannot consent to sex and sexual relations at that age are always regarded as rape.  This changes however, for girls who are above 12, but under 14, at which point the perpetrator, shall still be charged with rape. However, the law further states that, if the male can prove that the girl was capable of giving consent, and that she gave her consent, then the perpetrator cannot be charged with rape but with “sexual intercourse with a young person.”  The law goes on to states that if a girl above 14 but less than 16 has sex with her consent, it is not rape but “sexual intercourse with a young person.” Girls over 16 can consent to sex but cannot marry until they are 18 according to the judgment.

    The law is effectively saying it is permissible for girls to have sex at 16, and, if she is in love and/or becomes pregnant, and wants to get married, she cannot.  This gets more confusing in reality.  Culturally in Zimbabwe, having sex and becoming pregnant is an acceptable path towards marriage, but having unmarried sex and is highly disapproved of. The judgment now creates a clash between the law and age-old culture, but also removes discretion. Are we denying those over 16 who can consent to sex but are under 18, have parental consent, and want to get married, the right to do so?   This lack of discretion is not the case in other Southern African countries, and the judgment seems a case of overkill for the problem of child marriage.

    Although poverty is primarily blamed for driving the practice, there are other factors driving child marriage in Zimbabwe. These range from religious practices, lack of discipline at home, abuse, and family disruptions to over sexualization of the girl child. However, the main driver of child marriage is deeply rooted in the dignity of the family. In order to protect the family honor, as long as the girl is married the circumstances that preceded or led to the marriage are forgotten.  According to research in one district in Zimbabwe, one woman stated that her standing in society is much better as a mother to a married child, whether over or under 18, rather than a single mother, regardless of the circumstances. The other women agreed, they talked about their dignity, (emphasis intended).

    Another said ‘if she is sexually active at 13 how do I stop her from having sex and getting pregnant repeatedly? It is better for her to get pregnant when she has a husband even though she is young. I do not want the responsibility of looking after her and her child while the father is free to do as he wishes. As she has started doing grown up things, she must take responsibility for her actions and stay with the man who made her pregnant.’

    The views of these women are not uncommon, and highlight a problem with the law as it is now to be applied. Whilst it is commendable that there is a legal power to prevent child marriage, the law must also take cognizance of reality and the fact that there are exceptions. The judgment is part of an effort to stop families from marrying off their daughters at an inappropriate age, but should not also penalize the girl child unnecessarily.

    Clearly there remains much to do, and little to do with the law. There is need to look at the legal system as a whole and propose a set of holistic legal and policy reforms that review the landscape of laws impacting on women and children. A broader range of policy alternatives and more sophisticated understanding of multiple strands of law and innovative legal strategies can converge to prevent child marriages.   

    This first appeared in the HuffPost Impact as a blog.

    RAU welcomes the opportunity for their research and articles to be utilised by the public with the proviso that any information that is used, quoted or referenced is credited to the Research and Advocacy Unit, Zimbabwe. RAU would also appreciate being informed of where and how the information has been used. Please email us on info@rau.co.zw

     

    We care. That’s why we don’t close our doors at 5pm. It’s why we can visit you if reaching us is difficult. Lawyer canning vale

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  • Reply to: Truth or Lies?

    27th November 2017

    There is a question that should be on everyone’s lips today. If all it takes is an impeachment process to finally get rid of Robert Mugabe, why did we need a “non-coup” coup? This “non-coup” coup has taken the country into the most perilous position, inches away from becoming sanctioned by SADC, the AU and the rest of the world. As we go forward into whatever new (and most likely old) political arrangement, the army and ZANU-PF must explain to the nation the justification for violating the constitution when there was a ready-made constitutional mechanism already at hand.
    This is not trivial. While everyone tip-toes around using the word coup, it is obvious that all governments, regional, continental and international, are completely aware that it is a coup, but no-one, for obvious reasons, want to say this officially. If they do, then a rapid chain of events must happen. Diplomatic relations must be cut, and a whole range of actions, perhaps even including military action, have to come into play. So everyone plays it down, watches, and waits in hope that an internal solution emerges that does not look like the end point of a coup. But every move so far seems to demonstrate this.
    And so the big question remains, as does a subsidiary question.
    If Emmerson Mnangagwa was so popular in the party, as seems evident today – 10 Provinces and the Central Committee wanted him – why the indirect route of a coup, and not the completely constitutional route of voting Robert Mugabe out at the Congress in December. It seems to be a pattern repeating itself: it suggests that ZANU-PF cannot reform, cannot place constitutionalism above means-end opportunism, and is never willing to test popularity through open contests.
    It also looks suspiciously like Emmerson Mnangagwa could not have won an internal popularity test within ZANU-PF, and needed the “non-coup” coup to achieve this. There is something very uncomfortable about winning an internal election via the power of the state military. This is not a great model for democracy no matter how deep the political crisis in the country.
    This bodes ill for the future. Mugabe has gone and this is clearly cause for celebration, but we must all wonder whether “Mugabism” has gone, and whether the “new” ZANU-PF will show itself capable of reform into a truly modern political party.
    The coming weeks will reveal how much change is likely to come, and, with the near-certain creation of a ZANU-PF headed government of national unity, how much reform will take place. We have been here before. A ZANU-PF dominated GNU in 2009 provided no meaningful reforms, and controlled the constitutional process to the gates of the election in 2013: this prevented any possible challenge to its hegemony through the constitution during the life of the GNU.
    Now that the citizens have found their voice, and their feet, it will be their task more than ever to ensure that any new political configuration adheres rigidly to both the constitution and constitutionalism, undertakes the reforms necessary to undo state capture and securocracy, and takes a truly developmental approach to improving the lives of the citizens.
    And so, it is important always to begin a new relationship based on the truth, no matter how uncomfortable the truth is. Building a relationship on lies, no matter how expedient or necessary they may be, inevitably leads to tears, divorce, and, in politics, to yet another “non-coup” coup. We watch with critical interest.

    Typo... military should read militarily. Good article though

    tony