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  • Index of results, reports, press stmts and articles on March 31 2005 General Election - post Mar 30

  • Flawed system 'must go'
    Rapule Tabane, Mail & Guardian (SA)
    April 12, 2005

    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?:
    We want 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.

    What difference would that make to the outcome of elections?:
    They would 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?

    Realistically, do you think Zanu PF will accede to these demands?:
    We have 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 the population.

    In particular, what role do you see for President Thabo Mbeki, whose quiet diplomacy has failed to produce results so far?:
    South Africaís 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?:
    It depends 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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