Lessons from the Second All-Stakeholders' Conference

HARARE - Multiple lessons can be learnt from the Copac- led Second All-Stakeholders’ Constitutional conference held in Harare recently.

All serious stakeholders from civil society organisations to political parties as well as the Copac itself are set to benefit from the lessons.

This write-up highlights three major observations namely: the confirmation of the fact that the people continue to play a peripheral role as far as the constitution-making process is concerned — the importance of political will in the creation of a peaceful environment in Zimbabwe.

The first and foremost lesson is the confirmation of the fact that the whole process has been and will remain an elite project legitimised by the people. This view derives its basis from the following three main observations.

Firstly, the principals made it clear that the constitution-making process was a brainchild of the Principals to the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

For instance, the President noted that the principals have the final say because they are the ones who initiated the project. In other words, Copac’s power is but delegated authority of the executive.

It was made clear that the principals rather than the people are the sources of that mandate.

Yet we say in a democratic state — leaders derive their authority from the people. This substantiates the view of Marxists who noted that liberal democracy is just a mere formality.

In supporting, the foregoing argument that the people are not in control is the manner in which the participants were selected.

The delegates were carefully selected to ensure that the perceived movers of positions of different political parties were included.

Again the fact that very few major changes were proposed at the end of the conference means the general populace are either not well-versed or their views are suppressed.

This also vindicates the views of the elitists theorists who confine the role of the people to selection of leaders.

Another very important lesson is that political will is the key to prevent violence and the achievement of the long-term goal of promoting peace and stability.

This comes from the fact that it is believed that the peaceful environment that characterised the conference ensued the call by the President in his opening remarks.

Contrasting with what happened during the First All-Stakeholders’ Conference, the Principals were actually absent such that hooligans were left loose.

Therefore, once the principals are willing to rein violence then unnecessary conflicts can be prevented.

Considering the role that leaders can play towards inculcating a peaceful environment, multiple actors such as civil society organisations, the church and political parties should continue to lobby the leaders to take a leading role towards conflict prevention.

The same commitment should cascade down to local authorities up to the level of headman. Various groups working for peace should therefore take advantage of what leaders have said and continue to remind them of what they said.
Lastly, the manner in which the conference was conducted reveals that all things being equal, Zimbabweans have an inherent spirit of working together imbedded in them.

However, due to various reasons that are beyond the scope of this write-up, that capacity has been suppressed. Thus, nurturing this capacity for future engagements becomes important.

Spokespersons for the three dominant political parties were agreed to the fact that the conference was a success and their views were advanced amicably. In so doing, political parties have inadvertently sent a message to the electorate that they are happy with the proceedings.

The above noted lessons are not exhaustive, but they are suffice to shed light on the current constitution-making process, the nature and behaviour of Zimbabweans and the crucial role that politicians play towards promoting peace in the country.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.