The primary elements of democracy, such as voting, representative power, and individual's rights, can apply to groups ranging from a very small number of people to nations with several hundred million citizens. The few youth groups I've observed in Zimbabwe have all created a printed copy of their own constitution that clearly states the aims of the group, the procedures to follow and the rights of the individual members. It is symbolic of their immediate desire to create an organization based on the democratic model regardless of the group's size or stature. Zimbabwe's current constitution was crafted as recently as 1979 at the Lancaster House in England by both British and Zimbabwean representatives. In 1996, several civic groups came together and formed the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), which aimed to revise the country's constitution. Over 50 civic groups make up the NCA, including trade unions, student groups, women's organizations, religious organizations and churches, all human rights organizations, disabled persons' organizations, many traditional leaders, sections of the legal profession, residents associations, media organizations, and nearly all political parties and individuals opposing President Mugabe and his party the ZANU-PF.
In 1987, presidential power was increased when the Prime Ministerial position was terminated, leaving only an executive president and two vice-presidents to rule the country. The president may serve a term of six years and is unlimited in the terms that he may serve. Under the constitution, the president is immune to both criminal and civil action against him in a court of law while still in office (Chapter 4, Article 30, Section 1). Bill Clinton should only be so lucky! But Zimbabwe has an extremely low voter turnout (due to widespread mistrust of the government and political system), and Mugabe will likely remain unchallenged and in power indefinitely. As president, the constitution grants him unilateral power to declare martial law and to declare war or peace (as opposed to the U.S. where only Congress has that power, constitutionally speaking, that is). Mugabe has most recently waged an expensive war in the Democratic Republic of Congo for months, while ubiquitous high unemployment and poverty ravage his homeland.
The "moderate whipping or infliction of corporal punishment on children below 18 years by their parents, teachers, headmasters..." is allowed (Article 15, section 3) and I'm sure none of you would want to see anything like that in our constitution!
A law may authorize the searching of persons and homes if doing so is in the interest of "public morality," which can be vaguely interpreted and therefor abused.
The "freedom of expression" is also limited due to these same considerations as well. One similarity in our two constitutional forms of government is the permissibility of the death penalty. Zimbabwe's constitution declares the "right to life" for its citizens and prohibits them from being subjected to "inhumane treatment" or torture, but does exempt capital punishment as ruled by a court of law from both of these provisions. On the other hand, our constitution makes no direct reference to the death penalty other than making sure that nobody is deprived of "life, liberty, or property without due process of law...(5th Amendment)". It also prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment" in the 8th Amendment, but the courts frequently determine capital punishment to be exempt from this category since convicts and even minors are put to death in the U.S. by lethal injection, electric chair, hanging, firing squad, and gas chamber.
Monica - Frustration Fuels Motivation - Education in Zimbabwe Through the Eyes of a Student Activist
Monica - An Interview With Ian Douglas Smith, It's All a Matter of Perspective
Monica- Teen Pen Pals Dream of Hollywood and Big Changes for Zimbabwe
Kavitha- Developing Countries, Big Daddy Corporations and the World Trade Organization
Time Machine | Multimedia and Special Guests
Home | Search | Teacher Zone | Odyssey Info