Flawed Draft Constitution Faces Rejection — Convention

GOVERNMENT should immediately halt the parliament-led constitution-making process or risk the rejection of a draft constitution resulting from the flawed procedure at a referendum, a National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)-convened second National People’s Constitutional Convention recommended this week.


The convention, which was held on Monday at the Aquatic Complex in Chitungwiza and attended by thousands of delegates drawn from the NCA, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Zimbabwe Chamber of the Informal Economy Associations, National Council for Disabled Persons in Zimbabwe, human rights and youth organisations, said there was need for an independent and democratic constitutional reform process.

“If the inclusive government and/or parliament do not heed our call to cease forthwith the constitutional reform process as outlined in Article VI of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), we will actively seek a rejection of any draft constitution produced by the same process through campaigning for a “No” vote should that draft be brought to a referendum,” read the resolutions of the one-day convention.

The rejection, the convention said, would be a recommitment to the principles and resolutions articulated 10 years ago by the first National Working Peoples’ Convention as well as the first People’s Constitutional Convention in 1999 and as outlined as recently as 2008 in the Zimbabwe People’s Charter.

It agreed that from next month, delegates should expand civic education and lead Zimbabweans to campaign for a democratic constitution.

Lovemore Madhuku, the NCA chairperson, said the MDC-T had lost direction by dining and wining with President Robert Mugabe and embracing the current parliament-led constitution-making process.

He said the major objectives the MDC was formed for were to remove Mugabe and write a democratic people-driven supreme law.

“We once worked together with (Prime Minister Morgan) Tsvangirai. We were one, being jailed and beaten together fighting for the same cause. In 1999 he was the one standing here fighting for the same thing we are fighting for today,” Madhuku said amid applause and chanting of slogans.  “But today the new gospel of MDC is Mugabe wanaka, (after) failing to remove him from power.

We might have elected them (MDC) and served jail terms with them but it does not give them a licence to write a constitution for us.”

He said the NCA’s “take charge” campaign is a platform to tell politicians that they should not treat Zimbabweans “like fools”.

“People of Zimbabwe, for how long do you want our politicians to treat us as fools? Ten years ago they came up with a Chidyausiku Commission appointed by the president. Now they come back 10 years later with a parliamentary select committee which does not know who its leader is. Is it (Lovemore) Moyo, (Austin) Zvoma, (Eric) Matinenga, the co-chairpersons or the three principals?” Madhuku asked.

He urged people not to tolerate a constitution led by politicians whom he said should focus on their duties of improving the standards of living of the people.

Madhuku said: “It does not mean we don’t want the politicians. We want them, but to lead our country.

We want them to put safe water and electricity in our homes, to build schools for our children, to build hospitals and help curb HIV and Aids, we want them to build us roads, we want jobs and better salaries.

That is their main role. MPs were not elected to write a constitution.

“The people have their own role, that is to elect leaders of our own choice, the role to write our own constitution and the right to hold these leaders accountable if they fail to deliver. We do not want the MPs to write the constitution for us. Today we are saying once and for all enough is enough.”

The ZCTU took a dig at the MDC-T for deviating from its founding manifesto in 1999, which was subsequently adopted by its inaugural congress on February 28 2000, that the party “rejects the current appointed constitutional commission under the Commission of Inquiry Act, and will facilitate the writing of a people’s constitution through a constitutional commission defined by and accountable to a conference of representatives of elected, civil and other social groups, after mass education” on the constitution.

Wellington Chibebe, the ZCTU secretary-general, said demanding a people-driven constitution should be a top priority for Zimbabweans.

“We see the divisions and parallel thinking that is going on within us. Some are now indicating left when they want to turn right, there is bound to be an accident,” Chibebe told the delegates. “Politicians think we want to take their power. No! We don’t want that. We are only preparing the future of our children.”

Zinasu president Clever Bere said his organisation felt insulted by political parties that were pretending that the constitution-making process is people-driven.

Bere said: “It is indeed naïve, parochial and stupid for our colleagues in MDC to expect us to follow them as they rush with the baton stick into the mountains instead of either handing it over to those with reserves of energy to continue with the struggle or sprint to the finishing line.

“We are further disappointed by the continued insult to our intelligence by the drivers of this Pilsner-driven process, who continue to blatantly lie to us that this process is people-driven.”

He said the parliament select committee and the three principles must be stopped.

“(Douglas) Mwonzora and (Paul) Mangwana must be stopped. Mugabe and Tsvangirai must be stopped.

The Biti, Welshman, Chinamasa whisky-driven Kariba draft must be stopped. Never, never, shall we allow politicians of the day to manipulate the people of this country using their popularity,” said Bere.

Benjamin Ranga of Mutare who claimed to be a member of the MDC-T said he was disappointed by the way Tsvangirai was behaving.

“I will go and tell Morgan Tsvangirai: where are you getting lost? Dzoka uyamwe (don’t leave the struggle),” Ranga said.

Winnifrida Chisiri, who claimed to be an MDC-T committee member of Zone three in Harare South at Hopley Farm, also had no kind words for her party president.

Chisiri said: “Ini ndoda Tsvangirai kudarika kuda kwandinoita sadza (I love Tsvangirai more than I love sadza) but I think he is now taking the wrong direction. My house was petrol bombed to nothing and up until now the MDC has done nothing. MDC does not have any powers, it is being oppressed.

“MDC should come together with NCA and put to an end to the current oppression. I want to feel safe. I want to be protected by the law and I want perpetrators of the June (2008) violence arrested.”

BY WONGAI ZHANGAZHA