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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Index of results, reports, press stmts and articles on March 31 2005 General Election - post Mar 30
system 'must go'
Mail & Guardian (SA)
Lovemore Madhuku is
a political commentator and head of the National
Constitutional Assembly, a coalition of civil society groups agitating
for constitutional reform in Zimbabwe. He suggested that the opposition
boycott the elections and not legitimise government repression. He did
not cast his vote. Two weeks ago, he was detained briefly for making "unsubstantiated
allegations" against the government.
As an outspoken
critic of participation in the election, what is your assessment of how
the elections actually turned out?:
The results were predictable. There was no way that the Movement for
Democratic Change [MDC] could suddenly expect a miracle when it had no
access to voters for four years. The MDC was only able to move to rural
areas four weeks before the elections. Its leadership was naive to think
that if you arrive at a new place, speak to people and they cheer, you
could then think they would vote for you. Voters are engaged over a longer
period of time. The conditions that the MDC had presented as a sine qua
non of participation in elections did not change so I donít know why it
still participated in the elections.
You have insisted
that there is no point in participating in elections unless there are
constitutional reforms. What are these reforms?:
the elections to be conducted by an independent electoral commission.
We also want the scrapping of the clause that guarantees the president
30 seats before the elections. We also need an independent body that regulates
the media. We also oppose laws that give police powers to authorise meetings.
would that make to the outcome of elections?:
create a free environment for all political players. All parties will
be able to campaign wherever they want in the country. We need mechanisms
that would announce in a dramatic way that things have changed in this
country. They would create confidence that you can still vote against
the ruling party and be patriotic. Are you aware that there are many voters
who believe that to vote for the MDC is to be unpatriotic?
do you think Zanu PF will accede to these demands?:
not tried hard enough before to push for change. If there was united popular
mass pressure, Zanu PF would shift. If we had at least 10 000 people on
the streets of Harare and thousands in other towns across the country,
it would have to listen. Letís see how it reacts to mass power. Is it
ready to kill people because they want constitutional change? We are not
calling for [President Robert] Mugabe to resign and be replaced by MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai. We must acknowledge the value of the liberation
struggle and his contribution, but we must say we want to broaden the
freedom they brought.
How would these
people-driven constitutional reforms happen in practice?:
We want the creation of a framework where people can freely express
their views. Government must formulate a process whereby a committee can
be appointed to look at all proposal documents, including the constitution
that was rejected in 2000. Civil society, the opposition and the government
can all sit down to produce a draft document. Then we either constitute
a constitutional assembly or a conference, to debate the proposals of
what makes a good constitution, and agree by consensus. Once that has
happened, the president can take the constitution to a referendum.
Is there a role
for the international community, which has ostracised the Zimbabwean government,
in all of this?:
It should try to persuade Mugabe that as head of government he must
accept the wishes of the Zimbabweans. It must support those who are fighting
for democracy here. It must understand the nature of the crisis here.
That means understanding that we are not fighting to kick out Mugabe and
replace him with Tsvangirai, but to get the president freely elected by
what role do you see for President Thabo Mbeki, whose quiet diplomacy
has failed to produce results so far?:
influence is quite critical. Mbeki must push Mugabe to ensure that when
the next elections are held, there is no controversy about the elections.
He must insist that the next two to three years are used usefully so that
when the next elections are held, the constitution will be legitimate.
The MDC took a
hammering in the elections even though it complains about irregularities.
Will people still look to the party to deliver them from Mugabe?:
on what it does. It must realise that its loss was owing to a flawed system
and it must mobilise Zimbabweans to change that system. But, if it is
still obsessed by minute details such as results being tabulated late
or figures that it does not like, people will lose interest in the MDC.
Tsvangirai must do less talking and start focusing on the bigger picture.
This thing of trying to create the impression that Zanu PF has totally
no support is wrong and must end. Even if free and fair elections were
held soon, Zanu PF would still be a formidable party.
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