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The Second miStake-holders Conference

She wakes up early in the morning, bathes quickly, and dashes past the cattle dip, down the valley and across the river towards her desired destination. She has been waiting for this day for the past 3 years. Her heart is beating loudly with excitement. “Finally I will make my choice. I will decide today who I want to live in that house. That house I have never seen-do I even know what colour it is-no actually not? That house with the high impenetrable looking wall and the barbed wire at the top. That house with the thick foliage even if you were to get a ladder you would not see what’s inside,” she thinks to herself. Finally she arrives. The queue is long and winding but she doesn’t mind. The woman in front of her has a baby on her back, wailing like a banshee- not surprising, who wouldn’t in the heat. The sun is scorching, hitting hard on her bare arms she feels like she is cooking. But patiently she waits, moving an inch at a time as the queue snails forward. “They are conducting a meticulous verification of the voters’ roll. They have to make sure it is you on the list,” one man who had just completed the process said on his way out. Finally, 7 long hours later it is her turn. She hands the polling officer her National Identity Card.

Officer: D! D! D! You are not here! You are not on the list!
Woman: But I registered.
Officer: Where did you register?
Woman: Right here in Chikomba.
Officer: Where do you live?
Woman: Right here in Chikomba.
Officer: Where have you lived since you were born?
Woman: Right here in Chikomba.
Officer: Have you lived anywhere else in the past 5 years?
Woman: No, I have been right here in Chikomba
Officer: When did you register?
Woman: In 1999. I voted right here in Chikomba in 2000, 2002 and 2005
Officer: I am sorry your name is not here, there is nothing that I can do to help you.

She leaves, dejected, despondent, demoralised. She has waited for 3 years and will not be able to say who lives in the big white or grey or pink house-who knows what colour it is??? No one is ever allowed to go in there, at least among the ordinary people like her and those who have been inside are beyond her reach.

I have a similar story. A historic process is unfolding in my country, that of constitution-making. I have been feeding into the process in any way I can, after all I am a patriotic Zimbabwean. I have been raising awareness through blogging, tweeting, facebook and even live broadcasts on radio to let people know what is going on with the constitution making process from the alarming days when people thought the Kariba Draft would stand, to the days of the formation of the Thematic Groups, to the First Stakeholders’ Conference, the release of the First and Second Drafts and now the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference. So was it too high an expectation for me to want to be accredited for that Conference?

I submitted my name through civil society because that is who I am. I am an independent member of society contributing to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights. People may call me whatever they like, a human rights defender, an activist, a feminist but what holds true is that I am in pursuit of justice, equality, and respect for human dignity but to my surprise my name was not on the list. Groups would arrive in trucks and their names would mysteriously appear on lists fished from the back office and before long they walked out with their accreditation identity cards. Names were being crossed off the ‘original’ lists replaced with those of more ‘important’ delegates. Even some members of civil society, whom I knew, were coming to ‘pick’ special civil society delegates whose presence at the Conference was deemed more necessary than others, escorting them inside for accreditation. They looked right through me as if they had never seen me before. The very same people I had sat with several times deliberating issues of elections, transitional justice among others. “Which party are you being accredited under?” the security at the gate asked me. What party? I am not a member of any political party. I am civil society. Why should my name appear under ZANU-PF or MDC-T or MDC?

But that one single factor is why I did not make it to the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference. None of the parties thought I was a critical enough individual to ‘endorse.’ I remembered the question that a journalist asked one of the COPAC Chairs, Honourable Mwonzora at a Press Conference at the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Offices when the Honourable mentioned that 571 delegates would be from civil society. The journalist asked,”who will decide which civil society organisations will go?” That question was never answered satisfactorily but now I know. Political parties determined who went in and who didn’t. Was that transparency? Is that the Zimbabwe we want? What then is civil society if it can be endorsed by political parties for a national process that should be transparent and open? What do you call a watchdog if it drinks beer with the robbers? There shall not be another 2nd Stakeholders Conference in a COPAC driven constitution making process. I missed my chance, like the woman who waited for 3 years to cast her vote and her name was missing from the voters’ roll.

I watch, I observe, I write---history has it on record.

Comments

Greengirl's picture

Coming back with more

I know by now that you are not in doubt that I love reading your posts. Just one little secret, "I draw inspiration from what you share".

It is sad that the civil society in your country have allowed themselves to be compromised. The whole picture is clear and I would say you have even been very fair in calling them misStakes-holders.

The most important thing is that you and the woman from Chikomba towered above those mischief makers. The only chance I saw you each missed is being numbered amongst the respective sets of misStakes-holders that plied their trade of manipulating due process. Your supposed colleagues knew you did not belong amongst the clique of the miStakeholders.As they looked right through you, they definitely saw a RIGHT-holder. Guess what? They were clearly looking for fellow miStakeholders.

My country is not a saint in this guise either, as such acts of manipulation happen in various cycles.

Not to worry dearie, Zimbabwe will someday witness a new dawn where RIGHT-holders will call the shots. Your country is crying for more RIGHT-holders and sure there are already two: YOU and the WOMAN FROM CHIKOMBA.

Very high regards,

Olanike

MaDube's picture

Sis Ola

The way you expressed yourself reminded me of what a friend of mine said about my failure to get accredited: he said "You achieved more with your absence than you would have had you been present at the Conference." Now that I am seeing reports about how useless the process was, how it did not change much in the constitution making discourse, I agree with you. Those who attended betrayed the movement of principled civics, bypassing transparency just so they could be part of an insignificant process at the end of it all. I am continuing my radio advocacy influencing the public to vote yes because this draft is much better than the current Constitution.

Stay well my beloved.

Greengirl's picture

Great dearie!

It's wonderful to know that you are better off and you're seeing through it all by the day. Keep being you and keep up the good work you are doing. Time will certainly prove you right and make you shine.

Love you!

Olanike.

mrbeckbeck's picture

How frustrating, disappointing

What a disappointment. After all the work you've put in, alongside so many. Ever narrowing circles of power are not what a democracy is supposed to mean.

With the USA election day approaching quickly, a third party candidate is suing because she was denied a presence at the presidential debates. Sounds familiar. Our countries are maybe not so different.

Thanks for sharing, I hope the constitution includes some of your visions for you country's future, even if you weren't in the room.

Cheers to you for your independence from party politics and for representing civil society at its best.

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

MaDube's picture

Hey Scott

I know hey. This dominant party politics is certainly wrong. In our case you had to go in endorsed by the MDC, MDC T or ZANU PF. You would think they are the only political parties. I have been following your election coverage as well and you would think Romney and Obama are the only two presidential candidates. That is also a tragedy of a media that seeks an animated audience, roused by sensation rather than a media that gives fair, accurate and objective reporting.

You are also on the East Coast hey? I hope you are safe from Sandy...

Hugs

Osai's picture

Inclusive and Participatory Democracy

We want inclusion and full participation. Nothing less. Keep pushing till you get it.

Best wishes,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

MaDube's picture

Hey dear

We pushed for it but unfortunately at this stage we failed to get the desired result as there will never be a second stakeholders conference in the COPAC led constitution making process. But we are gearing for the Referendum now and it will have to be as participatory, inclusive and transparent as possible. We are fighting for it to be so. Thanks for your warm wishes.

Hugs

amiesissoho's picture

My sister these are the

My sister these are the tactics of pulling people with justice agenda back. They realize your potential for pushing the justice agenda therefore not comfortable with that. Politicians mostly do not want people who think rationally but those who will follow them 'blindly'.

Stay strong,

Amie

MaDube's picture

You are right sis Amie and

You are right sis Amie and it's a sad reality hey. I felt so betrayed by civics especially given that we had had previous meetings in which we had refused to be accredited endorsed by political parties. People got in by hook or crook and that to me it was just a shame.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Mauri's picture

I agree with Amie's comment.

I agree with Amie's comment. Similar tactics are used anywhere politics becomes a power-only affair, or business.

Right, they absolutely do not want thinking and good will people along their path.

But just because of this, you go sister! We're with you!

Hugs

Mauri

MaDube's picture

Dear Mauri

Thanks so much for your support and solidarity. Yes we will keep pushing for more transparency and accountability in all processes that shall follow until we have a new constitution!!

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