By Blessing Vava
On the 28th of September the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) will be convening its historic congress at its headquarters, Bumbiro House in Harare. The congress meets after the last General Assembly then in 2006, and presented an opportune moment for the movement to reflect on its failures and successes since its formation in 1997. Our fight over the years has been the fight for a people driven constitution. Mindful of the founding vision of the NCA of ‘a peaceful, prosperous, democratic and united country founded on human dignity and social justice’ and mission ‘for Zimbabwe to have a new, democratic and people driven constitution,’ the NCA have never lost sight of what it’s seek to achieve despite the obstacles that it has encountered over the years. In 2000 it successfully blocked Mugabe’s sponsored constitution, mobilising Zimbabweans from the length and breadth of our country to vote NO in the referendum held in February the same year.
The rejection was as a result of the historical processes, the National Working People’s Convention (1999), which clearly espoused that the writing of a new constitution should not be led by individual or political parties. The same resolution was also articulated by the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter (2008), giving NCA solid reasons and justification to reject Article Six of the Global Political Agreement, (GPA). In all these events the NCA agreed that the writing of a new constitution be open, owned and driven by the people of Zimbabwe. The NCA had seen the shortcomings of entrusting those in political offices to write a constitution for the whole nation, thus rejecting Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement.
To NCA, Article 6 fell short of what we in the organisation believe in; it relegated the people of Zimbabwe to be mere spectators in the writing of their own constitution. How retrogressive were our former friends, the 2 MDCs, whose founding nucleus was the National Working People’s Convention, have also reneged from that principle. They threw away the NWPC agreement the moment they joined Mugabe’s bandwagon. Selling principle on the altar of political convenience: revolutionary movements do not renege from principle. It is these historical documents and events, the NWPC resolutions and the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter that NCA will continue using as tools of analysis for complicated day to day social, economic and political matters.
Against this background, the NCA remained principled despite the foolish, childish and rather false claims that the NCA existed to siphon donor resources for survival. It is no secret that when COPAC was established the NCA refused to be part of that charade and some donors tried to manipulate the NCA to be part of that bandwagon. A notion we totally rejected.
It is during that time that some donors from the western world dumped the NCA for its refusal to support the inclusive government constitution making process. Over the years we have learnt a big lesson that for any struggle to succeed it has to be a principled struggle and that the issues of money must never compromise on the goals and objectives to be achieved. Proudly, our movement has grown from strength and the dedication by the membership must be saluted. They have stood the test, contributing the little from their hard earned cash to fund the organisation. Such dedication and commitment is motivated by the desire for a prosperous and democratic country. For that reason, prophets of doom who wished the collapse of the NCA were totally shamed. Therefore, as we define a new path on the 28th of September, It is that steadfastness, commitment and principle that will enable any movement to live long.
The politics of the land today have dramatically changed and as such we have to re-organise ourselves in this new terrain. Our struggle for a people driven constitution will forever be at the forefront until victory is achieved. Thus this congress is about setting the foundation for the future for our beloved country.
This congress will set an agenda and program for the democratic revolution. It is a stepping stone towards a society, a political culture that accommodates debate, disagreements and differing opinions without labelling of comrades as sell-out, lost, traitors or counter-revolutionary.
As a revolutionary movement, the NCA have learnt especially at a time when donors dumped it that a movement can be sustained by its membership. This could not have been achieved if it did not have committed cadre within its ranks. This is why the membership coming to this historic congress has taken it upon itself to fund for own transport and accommodation. Such levels of sacrifice are indeed a reason to celebrate. As we continue recruiting, our membership must be disciplined and commit voluntarily for the good of the movement. Those obsessed with material or personal gains have no place in our ranks.
Hence, this National Congress affords us the opportunity to account for our stewardship over the past period and at the same time devise strategies and map out plans for a bolder and better future.
Thus, the demand for visionary leadership has never been so compelling. On the same vein and as an organisation, we revile in strongest terms the continued disparaging slander by some self-imposed political commentators and analysts on casting aspersions on the integrity of the NCA and its leadership.
Our colossal challenge going forward is to ensure that we remain true in our course in building unity and cohesion in our movement. If we look back at the road we have traversed in the last years, so can we be confident that as the revolutionary organisation we have stood the test of time and emerged unscathed by the challenges that came before us in our persistent struggle for a democratic constitution that will also seek to improve material conditions of the people and making our people to live their own lives for the better.
Our resolve for unity and cohesion remains unshaken; our mission to champion a new democratic dispensation remains untiring. We therefore wish our delegates fruitful deliberations on the day of congress.
Blessing Vava is the Director of Information for the National Constitutional Assembly. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org