Constitution-making Needs Sober Minds

THE people of Zimbabwe were given the opportunity to participate and write a new constitution for the country in 1999 – 2000.


The Constitutional Commission was formed, led by the now Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and the likes of Jonathan Moyo, now Tsholotsho North MP. That was the time to make our own people-driven and democratic constitution. I say people-driven because all Zimbabweans were to take part regardless of race, gender, tribe, political affiliation and so forth.

I personally took part in that process and when the draft was finally presented to Zimbabweans, there were omissions here and there.

The NCA then took that opportunity to campaign for the No vote, saying people’s views were sidelined and that the process was not people-driven. The people of Zimbabwe lost a genuine chance of having their own constitution.

Although by then I was already in opposition politics, I was against the NCA and rightly voted Yes. My argument then was whose interest did the NCA represent? I wondered how many people participated in the Constitutional Commission draft against the NCA draft and I felt the NCA was taking Zimbabweans for a ride.

It is unfortunate that the majority of Zimbabweans who voted No did not even see both drafts but were coerced to vote against the government draft. We have to admit that had we voted Yes, the country would be somewhere in terms of democracy, good governance and self-determination.

There is this tired observation that the No vote built the people’s confidence and demonstrated that you could challenge the status quo and win. The truth is vice-versa. I need not explain what followed after the No vote.

My point is that we now have that golden opportunity to write our constitution again. 

Thabitha Khumalo once asked at a public meeting what is meant by “people-driven” and the answer never came. I’m now disgusted by Lovemore Madhuku’s NCA position that they will campaign for a No vote even before the process starts.

What’s wrong with Mahuku and his organisation? This is the chance for them to take part in the process.

This is the time for them to be heard. They should present what they think needs to be incorporated into this august document. I hate to think that other organisations are there only for abusing donor funds without helping our country.

A friend of mine once asked me what would become of the NCA after the new people-driven constitution. Also, if there was no crisis in Zimbabwe, what would become of these crisis organisations? Having said that, I now call upon the NCA to participate in this very important process. Their wisdom is wanted.

It is also intriguing to note that amongst the parliamentarians to head this noble process there is its co-chair Douglas Mwonzora who is a protégé of the NCA. Felix Mafa-Sibanda, Thabitha Khumalo, Reggie Moyo, Jessie Majome, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Minister of Industry and Commerce, Welshman Ncube once led or were part of NCA.

This shows that even amongst the government itself, the NCA is adequately represented. They are also allowed to sit on those committees again as civic organisations. What else does Madhuku want?

The time for cheap politicking is over and each and every Zimbabwean is obliged to heed this call and stand up and be counted. Zimbabwe is for us all regardless of our political and religious differences.

I also gather there is an organisation called the Matabeleland Constitutional Reform Agenda (Macra). I gather that they want to facilitate, coordinate, defend and articulate inputs from Matabeleland and Midlands into the constitution-making process and defend open pluralistic and multiparty constitutional democratic institutions, values and principles. Well, it sounds good on paper.

What should be understood by all is that as people of this region, we are tired of people who come and pretend to defend us, yet are having secret agendas. In this case I do not want to use the same brush in painting both the NCA and Macra, since I am yet to know exactly what Macra will do for this region although I must hasten to say that I was very much impressed by its leaders’ remarks at a Press Club meeting that people should consider what is there for them in the new constitution rather than the process.

The people of Matabeleland must advocate for at least the following: devolution of power; Bill of rights; proportional representation; scrapping of English, Shona and Ndebele as the official languages only. What about Sotho, Venda, Kalanga, Tonga, Tshangani etc?

We need a provincial governor with a budget for the province and that governor must be elected by the people and there should also be a provincial legislature. People of Bulawayo should govern themselves and use their resources.

It is very inhuman to ask a villager in Tsholotsho to go to Harare to get a birth certificate when the old man was born in Nyamadlovu. It’s also painful to ask a driver to go to Harare to collect a metal driver’s licence after having passed his/her driving test in Bulawayo.

It’s totally degrading and inhuman to the citizens of uMthwakazi. Each and every province should manage its own affairs. Let’s do away with the bambazonke syndrome. We should also understand that the constitution should be there to regulate the government, not its citizens unlike the present scenario where only citizens are regulated.

Finally I would like to urge each and every Zimbabwean to take part in this constitution making process without fail and be part of it. Organisations like the NCA, ZCTU, Macra etc should be inclusive so that they will not cry foul. This constitutional-making process needs sober minds not populists.

 

  • Edwin Ndlovu is the MDC provincial secretary for Information and Publicity (Bulawayo province).

BY EDWIN NDLOVU

 

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