THERE is a serious need for Zimbabwe to consider the need for a new constitution as a way of rebuilding the nation.
Zimbabwe is now in a serious dilemma emanating from flawed laws that are being used by the present government to
deny Zimbabwean citizens their basic rights. The government continuously uses the Lancaster House constitution to run controversial elections through the use of a partisan electoral body — the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
During the 2005 parliamentary election, the ZEC failed to give convincing explanations in relation to the discrepancies between the announced results over the radio and those at their command centre.
Flawed elections have contributed to the legitimacy crisis of the present government and have caused the international isolation of Zimbabwe. Our economic woes are directly caused by the lack of sound economic policies to address the ever-escalating inflation.
Prices of basic commodities have slipped beyond the reach of ordinary Zimbabweans who are struggling to make ends meet. We are faced with a situation where the unemployment rate is over 80% yet the income of more than three quarters of those employed is far less than the poverty datum line estimated at $52,5 million.
A new people-driven constitution will guarantee Zimbabweans an accountable government that is responsive to their plight. The current efforts by the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) need unwavering support from all stakeholders to push the government to agree to constitutional reforms.
The NCA annual general meeting held on May 27 resolved that there is a need to put pressure on the government through mass demonstrations. The civic society has a task to mobilise the masses to rally behind the cause for a new constitution.
There is also a need for political parties to work together with civic society, students, churches and labour to come up with a working document that will be used as a rallying point towards constitutional reforms. Such a document can give priority to the NCA-proposed draft and the 2000 rejected government proposal.
Currently, the NCA is collaborating with all those who are cognisant of the urgent desire for the nation to have a new people-driven constitution. These stakeholders include Zimbabweans in the diaspora, the churches, students, labour unions and political parties. The NCA urges all Zimbabweans to demand a new constitution without fear of victimisation by the current regime. As the NCA, we are determined to fight for a new constitution through protracted mass street protests.
The NCA believes that the power of the people comes first before the wishes of a minority egocentric political leadership that we witness today. It is however sad to note that whilst all progressive pro-democratic forces are advancing towards getting a new democratic constitution, some unruly elements without direction seem to have been bought by the government to derail the people’s efforts.
The NCA would like to urge those who frequent the media for the sole purpose of undermining the mandate of the assembly to instead offer pragmatic ways of urgently getting a democratic constitution.
As the NCA, we remain resolute in our agenda for a new constitution and Zimbabweans should not take seriously individuals bent on diverting efforts of the masses towards achieving this goal.