THE Copac exercise is a trough-feeding exercise that enriches a select elite while engaging in a fraudulent consultation of “the people”, a process that will either deliver pre-conceived ideologies from the parties in charge or a bastardised amalgamation of unworkable and contradictory clauses.
Consultation is a buzzword that on closer examination does not have much meaning, except to justify a particular position. If we ask 50 people for their opinions and then promote one of these, is it justified because we have consulted? What about the little old woman in the corner who is too nervous to speak in public but has her own opinions? What about the loud-mouthed know-it-all who makes the most noise? Is his opinion more valid because he is so forceful? What about the 950 people who didn’t hear about the consultation or could not get time off work to attend? Are their opinions to be disregarded because they could not fit in with our schedule?
Apart from the abuse of “consultation” to justify one set of opinions, there is a fundamental flaw in the idea and practice of “majoritarianism” — the majority is not necessarily right. The majority of Germans supported Hitler… look where that took them and the world! In the matter of constitutions we need wise and considered counsel, not the appeasement of the majority.
Zimbabwe is not unique in the world. There are over 200 other countries, all of which have had their trials and tribulations, their killer kings and civil wars, their colonists and liberators, their betrayers and heroes. There are hundreds of constitutions out there that serve their people to a better or worse degree. There has been no education of Zimbabweans about these documents and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Without knowing what the options are, how can we make an educated choice?
Without understanding the importance of a constitution and the need for the inclusive protection of all our people, not just the ones we approve of, people put forward their opinions as proposals but opinions are dicey terrain upon which to build a state. Zimbabweans have been so brutalised by these oppressors, force-fed lies and propaganda, denied information and ideas and opinions from which to make considered judgements, which left up to “the people”, no doubt we would have executions of homosexuals in public.
This is a fatally flawed process foisted onto us by elite politicians who will never surrender their power, who will say they have consulted and then push forward their own agendas regardless. We all know of Zanu PF’s contempt for the law, for due process, for constitutions, for people but the MDC is quite capable of emulating them: the contempt for their own constitution demonstrated in 2005 (when Morgan Tsvangirai rode roughshod over the document to push his own views ahead of the majority and precipitate the split) and again in 2009 (when they quietly removed the term limits to allow Tsvangirai to remain in place) demonstrates that they too were nurtured at the poisonous bosom of Zimbabwe’s political culture, with its intolerance, violence, parochialism. The MDC will treat any constitution as a tool to achieve their goals, subject to the exigencies of politics and self-interest.
Constitutions should not be crafted by politicians or “the people” but by constitutional specialists with a wide knowledge of different constitutions around the world and a healthy scepticism of politicians and their machinations. Their work should be based on clearly expressed principles identified by popular debate. For instance, if “the people” are consulted and their views filtered by commissioners, who knows what they said or didn’t. And anyway if 99% of “the people” want public executions, does that legitimise the inclusion of such a clause? Does a majority make it right? No, it makes it popular. The constitution should protect us from mob sentiment as much as from rapacious politicians.