An investigation of the role of civil society organisations in the determination of devolution of power in the new constitution of Zimbabwe.

Author: Moyo, Mgcini

The study set out to investigate the role played by CSOs in the determination of devolution of power in the new constitution. The work came up after the realization that there are various factors that influence the participation of CSOs in the public policymaking initiatives of Zimbabwe. The CSOs operate in a highly charged and contested political environment, therefore the politics of the country play a role in influencing the operations of the CSOs. In that regard the study was a deliberate strategy to investigate how the CSOs operated during the COPAC constitution making process. A process that was largely influenced and controlled by political parties in the government of National Unity. The research was a case study of, an NGO based in Bulawayo that participated actively in the COPAC process. The major function of the organization is to promote community participation in societal development through issue based advocacy and capacity development. The research was carried out using a qualitative approach and the major findings of the research highlighted that participation of the CSOs in the COPAC process was largely influenced by the political parties. The CSOs that participated in the COPAC process were seconded by political parties in GNU. In that regard, the study revealed that participation of the CSOs was largely compromised, as the CSOs were forced to serve two centres of power. The COPAC process was a political process that was controlled by the political parties that sought to protect their interests in coming up with the new constitution. The CSOs on the other hand were mainly controlled by the agenda of the political given failure to speak with one voice in demanding devolution of power. The research concludes by offering recommendations for the CSOs to redefine civic engagement and ensure that CSOs delink from being the conduits of political party agenda. De-linking from opposition politics is key as it helps to create meaningful platforms for government engagement on public policy formulation and implementation.