The Road to a New Constitution


Public outreach for the Draft Constitution that culminated in a new Constitution for Zimbabwe. Photo - UNDP Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe made history on 22 May 2013 when the President appended his signature to the new constitution. It is now the fundamental law of the
country.

Complimenting the government efforts, the UNDP began supporting the constitution-making process in April 2010 through the project ‘Support to
Participatory Constitution-Making in Zimbabwe’. In addition to technical and financial support from UNDP, the project received assistance from a group of donors, including the Governments of Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway. Others are the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Department for International Development (UK), the European Commission, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Highlights

  • The new Constitution became the fundamental law of the land on 22 May 2013
  • The constitution making process was a nationally driven process led by the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC)
  • During this public outreach programme, there were 4821 meetings held throughout the country (reaching approximately 1.2 million people), 51 written submissions and 2397 electronic submissions
  • UNDP managed a multi-donor fund worth US$ 21 million from donors including the Governments of Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway. Others are the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Department for International Development (UK), the European Commission, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

The constitution making process was a nationally driven process led by the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC). The process started with a First All Stakeholders Conference that agreed on the 17 thematic areas of the constitution and established 17 subcommittees of COPAC. This was followed by a public outreach programme during which the population was consulted on what they wanted to see in the new constitution. During this public outreach programme, there were 4821 meetings held throughout the country (reaching approximately 1.2 million people), 51 written submissions and 2397 electronic submissions, including from Zimbabweans
in the diaspora.

The process was enhanced by the provision of international experiences and best practice from similar processes elsewhere. At the request of the national authorities, UNDP provided international experts to assist with a data analysis tool that was used to analyze the field data from the public
outreach programme for drafting purposes.

In addition, a Strategic Advisor with wide-ranging international expertise, knowledge and experience on political dialogue, negotiations on the various aspects of drafting provided strategic support and technical expertise to COPAC through UNDP to assist with the translation of the data into a Constitutional framework, as well as facilitation of identification of Constitutional Issues and Constitutional Principles used to guide the drafting process.

Following this process, a final draft Constitution was adopted by all the main political parties and put before a national referendum on 16 March 2013 where it was endorsed by an overwhelming majority of people who voted.