In the beginning, resources were plentiful and every human being lived by their own set of rules and morals. If an individual wronged another, the punishment would be decided by the individual as they saw fit: they could ignore it or take their reaction to the extreme without much external interference.
Clearly, this situation could not possibly go on forever…
As the need for order arose in society, individuals realised that a set of rules and principles was required so as to ensure commonality and justice for all. Once these laws were created and governance style regarded, a constitution unique to the territory was written.
Now, constitutions are used to govern territories around the world. Constitute is a website that allows you to read, search and compare the world’s constitutions, which is a great way to see how your country’s constitution differs from others’.
When an individual is born into a territory, they immediately give up their rights for the sake of the common good. However, one important right citizens maintain is the right to keep those with the mandate to safeguard the Constitution in check.
Every constitution begins with a preamble, which is a brief introductory statement of the constitution’s fundamental purposes and guiding principles. You can read Zimbabwe’s on the right – it beings with “We the people of Zimbabwe”.
Constitutions contain the most important rules of our political system and are often, but by no means always, protected by a legal body whose job it is to interpret those constitutions and, where applicable, declare void executive and legislative acts which infringe the constitution.
Most constitutions seek to i) define the relationship between individuals and the state, and ii) to regulate the relationship between institutions of the state. It thus constitutes the most basic laws of a territory from which all the other laws and rules are hierarchically derived.
As a citizen, keeping those with power in check forms one of the most important parts of your civic responsibility. You can begin to understand the Constitution of Zimbabwe by reading it.
After all, it is officially the supreme law of Zimbabwe.
Not convinced? Well, then…
1. It belongs to you – and the rest of the people
“We the people of Zimbabwe…recognising the need to entrench democracy, good, transparent and accountable governance and the rule of law”. If you won’t own it, and work to keep the governance and rule of law in check, who will? Someone else will gladly take over for you, and replace your opinions with theirs.
— Mantate Mlotshwa (@MantateQueeneth) September 7, 2018
2. You created it and sustain it
“Reaffirming our commitment to upholding and defending fundamental human rights and freedoms.” It is up to the citizens to maintain the laws of the constitution in any which way they can.
3. It claims to be the fundamental law of the land
“And, imploring the guidance and support of Almighty God, hereby make this Constitution and commit ourselves to it as the fundamental law of our beloved land.” But how can you respect what you do not know?
4. How else do you put today’s headlines in proper context?
“Mnangagwa vows to uphold Zimbabwe’s constitution”
“Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court to hear MDC’s appeal against election result”
“Controversial Zim MP proposes raising age limit for president from 40 to 55”
“Profiles of Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court judges”
What do they really mean?
5. The preservation of freedom requires your knowledge
One way to improve your mind is to read and study your country’s foundational documents. Not everyone is going to be able to understand the law the first time.
6. A republic is not self-sustaining, it must be “kept”
Just like you need to service your car and replace its parts every so often, the constitution needs to grow and expand when new issues arise, such as cybersecurity and biotech. And you can be this change.
7. Posterity depends on our knowing and keeping the Constitution “operating”
The future of the country depends on how well its citizens will be looked after. Are the practices of today’s generation sustainable for the future?
At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself whether you would be able to use the constitution to its fullest potential. Do you know what it says, means and how it works? Once you have this covered, it’s easier to get involved in community programmes and understand their rights and limitations. Go Zim has an on-going list of a few organisations in Zimbabwe that are working towards a greater future for all. Read about them here and get involved.
After all, this is your future.