'Only 20pc of Zimbos have new Constitution'

BULAWAYO - Only 20 percent of Zimbabwe’s 13 million-plus population has a copy of the new Constitution, a research group has said.

The group — Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) — conducted a survey in 2016 to establish Zimbabweans’ access to the crucial document.

MIHR general-secretary, Benedict Sibasa, said there was need to prioritise constitutional awareness as provided for in the new charter — overwhelmingly voted for in a referendum in 2013.

“As Parliament resumes sitting and legislators are going to be debating the 2017 National Budget statement, the MIHR would like to urge Members of Parliament to demand the Finance minister allocates funds for constitutional awareness in accordance with Section 7 (a)(b) and (c) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Sibasa said the survey also indicated that the remaining 80 percent of the respondents do not have access to a copy of the new Constitution and did not know where to get one.

The new Constitution is available at the Government Printers and retails for $5 per copy — a top-line ripple for most ordinary hard-pressed Zimbabweans.

“It is disheartening to note that since the year 2013 when the new Constitution came into force, the government of Zimbabwe has not made deliberate efforts to ensure that more copies of the Constitution are printed and public awareness of the Constitution is made,” he said.

According to Section 7 of the Constitution, the government must promote public awareness of the Constitution, including translating it into all officially-recognised languages and disseminating it as widely as possible.

But government seems to have overlooked this, Sibasa said.

However, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also the Justice minister, claims his ministry has managed to translate the Constitution into eight vernacular languages out of 16 official languages. 

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