Alex Bell, SW Radio
March 8, 2013
With just over a week to go until Zimbabweans vote 'yes' or 'no' for the new constitution, the draft document can now be accessed and read on a smart-phone or tablet computer.
Parliamentary watchdog group Veritas has launched a mobile application that allows smart-phone and tablet computer users to download the entire constitution onto their devices.
The free app allows the document to be read at any time, including when the user does not have internet access. Veritas systems administrator Kuda Hove explained on Friday that this feature means that the constitution can now be taken to remote areas where there is no internet connection, meaning more people can potentially access the document.
Veritas has also managed to make the document less daunting in mobile form than it is in hard copy, with easy to navigate index and search functions. Hove said this will make it easier for people to discuss and debate the contents. He also explained that the app has a direct link to the Veritas discussion forum, so people can go online and discuss their concerns about the contents.
The app can be downloaded for free via the app stores on Android-supported phones and Nokia smart-phones. The app is called Zimbabwe Constitution [Draft]. For more information and download links go to constitution.veritaszim.net
SW Radio Africa's Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa meanwhile said the electronic versions of the constitution that have been made available are only accessible for a small number of Zimbabweans.
He went on to explain that for those who have been able to access a copy of the draft, there is confusion and frustration, with no clarity about what the content actually means. He added that the release of the abridged version of the draft has only served to worsen this confusion.
"It appears what was in the main draft and what is in the (abridged) version you find some clauses that are not in the main draft. Certain clauses have been added in the shortened version but are missing in the longer version. That anomaly has been picked up by a lot of people," Muchemwa said.
He said that so far none of the publicity meetings run by the political parties or by COPAC have managed to explain these 'anomalies', which include the statement in the abridged version that dual citizenship is allowed. This is stated clearly in the shortened draft, but in the full version it is not clear.
Muchemwa added that people's votes on referendum day are unlikely to be based on the contents anyway.
"So far people are expressing their intentions and it is not about the content, it is about the political sphere. If people feel the parties have betrayed them, they feel they will vote no, without actually looking at the contents. Others have been whipped into submission by their parties to vote 'yes'," Muchemwa said.