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A new constitutional state in Africa: Zimbabwe 1980 – 2018

By Oskar Wermter SJ In 1980 legal independence was granted by Great Britain. In the middle of 2018 there will be general elections of Parliament and the President. Elections used to be held every five years. But because of election manipulations these elections were often considered not entirely legal. Former President Robert Mugabe stated several times that his authority solely rested on his military victory, not on his democratic majorities in elections. Often, results were considered manipulated, or the results of riggings and deceptions. Elections were often rejected as false. However, what kind of political offices are candidates at elections really looking for? Do they first and foremost for the common good? On the occasion of the celebration of the country’s independence on April 18 1980, the Catholic Bishop of Zimbabwe declared: “While the State and the Church are independent and autonomous in their own sphere, both are at the service of man [human person]. ….The Church is not identified with any political community, nor is she bound to any political system. Rather, her function is to be the moral conscience of the nation, and the sign and safeguard of the supreme value of the human person. “Let no one confuse constructive criticism with enmity towards the State as such.” (Nomos, p. 145. , see also Liebenberg, Socio-Economic Rights, 50) The Catholic Bishops were of the opinion, “a critical attitude towards the performance of Government, may well grow out of a deep sense of loyalty towards the State …Let no one confuse constructive criticism with a sense of loyalty towards the State and its people.” Princes and civil authorities should not prevent citizens from pursuing legal cases if these were legal in the positive sense or simply as natural law. “Reforming legal education remains a major challenge in the Zimbabwean context.” — “What moral and spiritual attitude the citizens of newly established Zimbabwe were supposed to have? “We find its political and legal expression in a universally accepted Constitution. ……” (O. Wermter). The Bishops laid the spiritual and juridical groundwork: In 1989 they laid the groundwork for this. Their pastoral letter, Solidarity and Service, explained what spiritual foundation was needed and what kind of spiritual attitudes people must have in building Zimbabwe. We need solidarity, We need a common purpose. We need unity. We need a common consensus which finds its political and legal expression in a universally accepted Constitution. There cannot be any dissent at this level if our country is to go forward and prosper. A war was fought over the ownership of land. Lasting peace and prosperity can only be achieved if the land is shared out equitably, “The goods of creation are meant for all,” Pope John Paul II was never tired of saying. Physical violence as a method of political persuasion must be ruled out entirely during the forthcoming election campaign. We know from experience that violence does not generate unity, but lasting hatred… All the people of Zimbabwe must approve the Constitution of the State. Therefore, all the people must do so in complete freedom. But the land issue would soon explode. “… The question of violence had never been resolved. Would it become virulent again? “( Nomos, 145 – 147). All the people of Zimbabwe must approve the Constitution of the State. Therefore, all the people must do so in complete freedom. The civil servant who deals with members of the public across the counter, may be convinced, ”I am their boss”, but must remember, “These are the people for whom I work. They are my employers”. There is great need for freedom of expression. Constructive criticism which is very healthy in any dynamic society, should be accompanied by positive appreciation of the good that is being achieved….Let no one confuse constructive criticism of the Government with enmity towards the State as such. Indeed a critical attitude towards the performance of the government may well grow out of a deep sense of loyalty towards the State and its people. Freedom has been won but it is like a parcel. We know that it is there but you cannot get at it. The result has been that we have built a house of fear. Some people do not feel free to speak their mind. The vision of Zimbabwe as a free nation is stifled. All of this has happened because we have not listened to our conscience, which is the voice of God within us. We have resorted to lying, deceit and equivocation as tools of survival. …..Indeed Zimbabwe is a “house of fear”. Bishop A Muchabiwa (retired Bishop of Mutare) and the Bishops of IMBISA (bishops of nine countries in Southern Africa) said publicly: “No freewill could be exercised in an environment of intimidation, fear and threats.” A good Constitution must safeguard the separation of powers, between the legislative, judiciary and executive, limit power as regards terms of power. The unlimited of use of power by individuals has done untold harm to Africa.

Source :

Newsday

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