THIS statement was issued by civil society following the national civil society consultative meeting.
We, civil society organisations acting on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, today reassert our commitment to the struggle for a transition to democracy. In doing so, we stand firmly by the principles of democratic constitutionalism that are embodied in the Peopleâ€™s Charter and which represent the birthright of every Zimbabwean.
Given the present environment of fear and oppression, we declare that democratic reform must be preceded by the cessation of violence, restoration of law and order, and facilitation of humanitarian relief. If such conditions are met, we are prepared to support the installation of a transitional government created after consultation with all stakeholders.
We believe that a transitional government would provide an appropriate vehicle for ushering in democratic reform. The transitional authority would have a specific, limited mandate to oversee the drafting of a new, democratic and people-driven constitution and the installation of a legitimate government. We wholeheartedly reject the suggestion of a power-sharing agreement that fails to immediately address the inadequacy of the current constitutional regime.
The transitional government must be established in line with the following:
*Specific, limited mandate. The transitional government should be tasked with facilitating the drafting and adoption of a new constitution and then holding elections under the new constitutional framework. It should only govern the country until such time as the government elected under the new constitution is installed. The negotiating parties should provide a very clear timeframe for this process, with no more than 18 months of rule by the transitional government.
*People-driven constitutional development. The process of drafting a new constitution must include broad-based consultation with the public. Interest groups such as women, labour, churches, and media hould be given special opportunities to provide input. The draft constitution should not be enacted until it has been ratified by the public in a national referendum.
*Restoration of good governance. State institutions such as the judiciary, police, security services, and state welfare agencies should be depoliticised and reformed. Steps should be taken to fight corruption and promote accountability for public officials.
Restrictions on press freedom should be lifted and access to state media outlets should be opened.