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ZIMBABWE: Screening of “Democrats” in Harare

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In November 2014, the documentary film “Democrats” about the constitution making process in Zimbabwe had its global premiere in Copenhagen. On Friday evening last week, the film was screened in Harare for the first time for a crowd of more than 300 people.

Report by Bjørn Førde, DIPD Director

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Democrats

The “Democrats” is an extraordinary film by director Camilla Nielsson, documenting the process of developing and agreeing upon a new constitution for Zimbabwe. In 2013 the new constitution was approved by Zimbabweans with an overwhelming majority.

But as the documentary shows through the fascinating relationship between the Zanu PF representative Paul Mangwana and the MDC T representative Douglas Mwonzora, the two key negotiators, it was not an easy process. The process had dramatic ups and downs before the two negotiators could get the approval from their two principals, President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tswangirai.

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From Copenhagen to Harare

Watching the documentary in a movie theater in Copenhagen was exciting for those of us who have followed politics in Zimbabwe over many decades – as well as for those not knowing Zimbabwean politics at all. But seeing it again at the Book Café in Harare with a crowd of 300 mostly Zimbabwean citizens was an entirely different and much more lively and emotional experience.

Two parties, one constitution

Which should not be surprising of course. In Harare people will know Paul Mangwana and Douglas Mwonzora as two key politicians from the ruling party and the major opposition party respectively. They have seen them speak on television, quoted on the front pages of newspapers, and probably also speak at rallies. They may belong to either of the two parties.

So there was chanting and clapping, laughing and buuhing in the theater as the documentary moves through the entire process of the constitution making – from the thousands of meetings held around the country to listen to people’s concerns to the final and dramatic negotiations on the sticky issues. The two key persons are very different personalities, and yet they develop a strong friendship during the process.

An important document in the moderne political history of Zimbabwe

Both were in the theater at the Book Café this Friday evening, and spoke briefly after the screening. Both emphasized the unique experience they had been part of; the struggle from different positions they had been involved in; and the effort of both to contribute to a better future for Zimbabwe by presenting a new Constitution to the people of Zimbabwe.

Both Mangwana and Mwonzora also emphasized that the documentary of course was the ‘director’s cut’ of what had transpired during the process. Many more people than the two portrayed in the film had played important roles and deserved praise. But this film would still stand as an important document in the moderne political history of Zimbabwe.

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