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By Blessing Vava Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa is currently in China on his first  visit outside Africa. Mnangagwa’s visit ...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Zimbabwe’s constitution making…learning nothing and forgetting nothing

By Blessing Vava
Muzorewa signing the Internal Settlement
Last week I took time to revisit Article VI of the Global Political Agreement signed by the three parties in the inclusive government on 28 September 2008. Section 6, begins by Acknowledging that it is the fundamental right and duty of the Zimbabwean people to make a constitution by themselves and for themselves. It goes on to state that, ''Aware that the process of making this constitution must be owned and driven by the people and must be inclusive and democratic; A clear breach of the agreement by COPAC and its Principals who ended up negotiating on their own leaving the people in the cold reminiscent of the Kariba Draft negotiations of 2007. The process was not inclusive; it left out other political formations and several actors to be part of the drivers.  

What is disturbing is that we have been hearing loud mouths in the mould of Nyanga North legislator Douglas Mwonzora and his MDC counterparts that this document is a product of the people despite its poisonous clauses which are not only harmful but a serious hazard to the people of Zimbabwe if consumed through a YES vote in the referendum. Mwonzora's behaviour is not surprising though, for a person with such ideological inconsistency, a controversial political identity and above all a long history of working with sell-outs like the late Bishop Abel Muzorewa, whose history of selling out is widely documented and fresh in the minds of Zimbabweans during his infamous Zimbabwe Rhodesia. 

Mentored by Muzorewa-COPAC's Mwonzora, he  joined the MDC in 2007 coming from the Muzorewa led United Parties)

What is striking is that on the 3rd of March 1978, Bishop Muzorewa, Ndabaningi Sithole and the Rhodesian elites signed an agreement at the Governor's Lodge in the then Salisbury to pave way for a stalled unity to make up an Executive Council. That ‘government’ did not last and they even approved a constitution after a referendum mainly participated by whites in January 1979. The Internal Settlement did not last as it collapsed because it was an elite and sell-out agreement by Muzorewa and crew and left out the nationalist movements.  The internal settlement was also condemned by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 423 of 1978, declaring unlawful any "internal settlement" in Southern Rhodesia. 34 years after, Zimbabwe is at a defining moment, the ruling elites are in bed caressing each other while the people of Zimbabwe are peeping through dark windows, however with small openings for a twinkle to get a glimpse of decision making in national processes. The ruling elites are in a compromised position, like Muzorewa and Sithole they are in an Internal Settlement, an arrangement between themselves through their scandalous draft.

 However the referendum will be the defining moment for the people of Zimbabwe to reject the elite pact between ZANU PF and the two MDCs.  Voting for this draft will be dangerous and suicidal because it benefits the politicians the most a feature that is ultra vires modern and acceptable constitution making trends. Politicians of the day have failed to learn from the past that constitutions are living documents that transcend and outlive current leadership short sighted interests. The MDCT has been known to be at the forefront questioning the rationale of a big cabinet. Their 2000 election manifesto proposed about 15 ministers ironically they now see no fault in the COPAC draft probably it’s the belief that they will be forming the next government and enjoy the same powers, as they have tested how sweet it is after their short but disastrous stint in government. The COPAC draft is a worse off document than the current constitution or the rejected 2000 draft. There are some who are saying it’s a step ahead, it’s a transitional document etc. They even accept that it is not a perfect document but the country needs to move forward. The questions I pose, step ahead to where? Moving forward to where? Clearly we are not moving forward with the COPAC draft rather it is tantamount to moving backwards to the times of Rhodesia when the white settlers crafted laws that favour themselves and segregating the black majority.

This draft creates a powerful executive and a bloated legislature and this will create serious problems because all these people will be demanding cars, houses and hefty allowances like we are witnessing now with the exception that the treasury will have to foot the bill for a larger cabinet and parliament something that is not in sync with our economic state. If recent statements by MPs and ministers are anything to go by then Zimbabweans should wake up and resist a new constitution that will allow for a bloated and unnecessarily huge parliament because it will run the government coffers dry. This is probably why both the House of Assembly and Senate rushed to endorse the draft without even debating its contents as required by Section 6.1(b) (vi) of the GPA. If the parties are really genuine in Zimbabwe having, not just a constitution, but a good one that will serve generations to come, they should have adequately debated the national report, the draft constitution’s contents against a backdrop of clauses negotiated and imposed by the Executive and of course taking into account valuable points raised by progressive movements like the NCA. The mere fact that the 190 plus legislators and the upper house see no fault in the draft alone shows the insincerity of politicians who are out to force people to endorse their interests. This renders Mwonzora and his ZANU PF colleagues’ claims that the draft contains the views of the people as laughable and an indictment on this selfish leadership. The manufactures of that draft should come out clear to the people of Zimbabwe and apologise, they wasted 4 years and US$50 million to produce a shoddy document not even worth half the time and the resources wasted. To think that the draft is worth US$50million is a serious scandal. 

If the views of the people are really captured in the draft one wonders why the parties are making desperate efforts to convince Zimbabweans to vote for their document. They need to give us strong reasons why such a draft should be voted for, which so far they have failed beyond sloganeering, lying and misrepresenting what is contained in that draft. What is positive is that many Zimbabweans out there are now aware that the role of the ‘invisible’ rather visible political hands of the principals in this whole scam, and are now geared for the referendum which might be held on 16th March. After all has been said and done, the politicians still owe the people an explanation on how they used US$50million which could have been channelled towards resuscitating ailing sectors of the economy and social service delivery. It smears of logic why they sought to waste valuable huge sums of money when they knew they would eventually negotiate the Kariba Draft style, obviously they were hatching the great national deception meant to hoodwink people into believing they own the draft. The nation should simply reject this draft the way they resisted the 2000 draft and the Kariba draft and the government concentrate on elections and thereafter pave way for national healing to depoliticise and depolarise the nation leading to an inclusive independent people driven constitution making exercise. 

Blessing ‘Vuvuzela’ Vava is a blogger from Chipinge. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com