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the headlines with Dr Lovemore Madhuku
Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
July 16, 2009
Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to another edition of
Behind the Headlines. We all know the circus that went on at the
Rainbow Towers on Monday when Zanu-PF supporters disrupted the All
Stakeholders conference that was meant to be held on that particular
day. So this week we've decided to get the chairman of the
Assembly, Dr Lovemore Madhuku and find out exactly what it is
that they have a problem with in terms of the current process? Dr
Madhuku, thank you for joining us.
Madhuku: Thank you very much.
Let's set the stage here, what exactly is your problem with
the current process?
Madhuku: Our exact problem
is very clear. We do not want a process led by politicians in the
writing of a new constitution. We believe that the writing of a
new constitution must be led by an independent body which is of
course set up by discussions between politicians and civil society
and broader society but once the process is said to be starting
it must be led by an independent body. The current arrangement is
where it is led by a select committee of parliament which is actually
a misleading term, it is led by representatives of the political
parties who are in government at the moment and that can hardly
produce a real genuine constitution. So our problem is about the
leadership of the process. Who is spearheading the process? In this
case it is the politicians; we don't want that, we would want
an independent process which will not be controlled day in day out
by the political parties.
Lance: But your critics
Dr Madhuku are saying the politicians you are talking about are
elected representatives who've got constituencies that they
Madhuku: I think the
critics are missing a very fundamental point. Being elected does
not give you the mandate to do anything about the life of the people
or the lives of a society. Being elected gives you some leeway to
do certain things. Our argument is that being elected is irrelevant
in the process of writing a constitution because a constitution
sets the rules for how elections must be handled, for how elected
representatives must behave. We are really getting basic rules in
place and that has nothing to do with being elected.
Lance: Just yesterday
I was talking to a senior government official from the MDC side
and he was saying the problem they have with your stance as the
NCA, although you talk about a people-driven constitution is that
they also feel equally that civil society is not the people.
Madhuku: Well I think
that our role as civil society is not to write a constitution. We
are not saying as NCA, as ZCTU, as the rest of civil society we
want to write the constitution of the people. We are saying they
must put in place a system that will allow the genuine views of
the people to be expressed. That is what we are saying. So Civil
Society doesn't want to write a constitution so that criticism
is misplaced. We have never said we want to represent the people
in writing a constitution but we are representing a substantial
portion of the population in saying let's have an independent
process. So our message is about creating a framework for a real
genuine constitution writing process.
Lance: Now we did cover
a few months ago that you had that meeting with the Prime Minister's
office trying to see if maybe you could reach a compromise and a
lot of people are asking this question saying was it impossible
for the two groups, yourself and those in government to meet halfway?
Madhuku: I think the
problem we are getting from many of our people is that they are
very slow to realise that the Prime Minister is no longer a person
who can deliver the basics of our democratic struggle; he can no
longer deliver anything. He cannot deliver I know the basics that
we need to turn around the economy, improving the lives of the people,
what we have been yearning for the past ten, 12 years. He also cannot
deliver the basics of the democratic liberties that we want, he
cannot give us a democratic constitution, so I think that this idea
of still wanting to place some relevance to the Prime Minister is
I think getting out of hand now. We have to fight now on our own
as people or as organisations but not to expect the Prime Minister,
he is now in the same position as the president.
Lance: I'll continue
referring to this conversation I was having with this government
minister because he did pose some interesting questions which maybe
I think our listeners would want to hear your response. They feel
that the NCA has a certain unilateralism about their approach that
it's either the NCA way or no way. Do you think that is fair
criticism that you are being accused of not being flexible in terms
of a compromise in crafting a way forward?
Madhuku: I don't
understand where that criticism is coming from because there's
been no unilateralism; there's been no insistence that it's
either the NCA or the other. There is only one way, that one way
that we must come up with a genuine process and the NCA insists
on genuine process and we do not see any genuiness outside, taking
constitution making outside the government of the day. This is why
the NCA was formed. The NCA was formed on day one we refused to
have Mugabe to have anything to do with the making of a constitution
and that's why we exist and that's why we are where
we are today. What we are now saying is - why should this
position be changed? Because we can't see any change coming
from the mere existence of the MDC. I think that senior government
official you are referring to, seems to have this illusion that
if it is not Mugabe and somebody else, that's fine with them.
Lance: Let's look
at the events this week, I'm sure you would have looked at
events on Monday, those chaotic scenes and felt somewhat vindicated
in terms of your position. What's your observation of what
happened on Monday?
Madhuku: There was no
sense of vindication on our part because we knew that despite all
that, even if we were going to get worse things than that, I knew
that the politicians would still continue claiming that their process
is working and so forth. When we saw those scenes we realised and
we knew that they were simply confirming the unsuitability of the
process being followed. Once you put politicians in that position
you always get those kind of scenarios. We are going to get more,
sometimes not even forms of violence but in other forms frameworks.
What you saw on Monday was a mere circus. You'll get more
of this and most of this will come for example, they will tell you
that the majority of Zimbabweans have said a particular thing which
you and me will agree was never said. So it will be a format, you
may disturb a gathering, that is even less than distorting what
people are saying. So what we saw on Monday was a confirmation of
the fact that politicians are unsuitable as leaders of a constitution
making process. But we must also urge that this is what makes it
serious, the politicians will not stop at anything to continue what
they are doing. You saw the scenes on Monday, you'll see other
scenes, you'll get even more and more evidence that this process
is not in any way democratic or people driven but they'll
push it all the same.
Some of those youths were chanting, we're talking about the
Draft; we know Mugabe was addressing his central committee and
talking about the Kariba Draft being a framework for this new constitution.
Now I know the NCA did a very good critique of the Kariba Draft.
Would you like maybe to share your observations with our listeners
what exactly do you think is the problem with the Kariba Draft?
The Kariba Draft has two main problems. The first problem is that
it is a document being thrown around just created by the political
parties which is very wrong that political parties seek to impose
their own views on the people. The second problem with the Kariba
Draft is its content. It still leaves all the current problems in
that constitution. The problems we have with current constitution
remain, the current content remains. For example, the president,
under Kariba or in the Kariba Draft, is as powerful, if not more
powerful than what he is under the current constitution. The lack
of checks and balances which we would want to see in a new constitution,
they are absent. Parliament under the Kariba Draft is still very
weak, it can't do anything. The appointment process of commissions
and so forth, they are all still left intact in the hands of the
executive. And there's no extension of any bill of rights
there, you still have no social, economic rights that we would want
to see entrenched in a constitution. And if you look at electoral
systems suggested in Kariba, the cry for proportional representation
is not there, the commission running the election is not independent,
the Diasporans would not vote in a process that these guys are putting
Lance: I know I maybe
asking you to speculate and you don't speak for the MDC but
we know that the MDC signed that Kariba Draft. Why do you think
they did that? I mean they are opposing it now but they signed it
a few years ago.
Madhuku: But I must also
correct you - they are not opposing it. The MDC is just playing
games with the people. They are not opposing it. They think that
they are cleverer than the people, they'll pretend that they
are opposing it when at the end of the day they will have that as
the draft. So be clear that the MDC is not opposing it. But to answer
your question why they signed it is very simple. They were convinced
at the time of the Kariba (Draft) that they will be the next government.
So the MDC admires Mugabe's current overwhelming powers so
when they had the Kariba, because there's no other way you
can explain why a political party that claims to be fighting for
a democratic constitution, that claims to be fighting for an accountable
executive would ever append its signature to a document such as
Kariba. So the reason is that they are lying when they tell you
that they are fighting for a democratic constitution. What they
have been very clear about which we know is correct and they're
not lying about it is that they are looking for power but would
use people's desire for change, people's desire for
democracy and then they claim those things. So the reason why the
MDC signed the Kariba Draft is that they love power.
Lance: Dr Alex Magaisa
a regular columnist for several newspapers and websites wrote an
interesting article where he says a new constitution will not save
Zimbabwe and what he was observing was an obsession with the constitution
as a panacea to all our problems. Would you agree with the argument
that it's not really about a constitution but about respect
for constitutions because the current one, if observed, is pretty
much a good constitution.
Madhuku: I don't
agree with his view. I read his article, it's actually a very
confused argument. Respect for constitutions presupposes that there
is an existing constitution that is worth respect. I mean it's
completely confused. You cannot talk about development or anything
without good governance and good governance must be founded on the
basis of a good constitution. So to preach that a constitution will
not save us is to lose sight of the argument. Those who are pushing
for a new constitution are not saying that all our answers lie in
the constitution. They're saying that the starting point to
a lasting answer to our problem lies in the constitution. So he's
lost on that point. I read that, I did not understand what he was
writing about. I thought he was under the pressure of having to
produce an article every week. That is what we normally come across
whenever these academics try and want to meet a deadline of producing
something every week, you'd get that some of these articles
don't make sense and that is one of the articles from Magaisa
which can only be described as OK trying to meet an instalment in
the newspaper or something.
Lance: As I was saying
Dr Madhuku, in the coming weeks we are going to be broaching this
subject much wider, getting all these people onto the programme.
Hopefully we'll also get Dr Magaisa to defend himself, but
we're running out of time and my final question is, I saw
the statement that you issued - you're running a parallel
process to this are you?
We are not running a parallel process. We are simply organising
Zimbabweans to be very alert and to oppose the current parliament
driven process. We do not write constitutions as civil society,
the NCA will not write a constitution. The NCA is there to organise
people, to mobilise them for a democratic constitution, so there's
no parallel process. What we are doing which some people are describing
as a parallel process is to put across this position that the current
arrangement is unacceptable so we will mobilise Zimbabweans to reject
the defective constitution coming out of this process and then immediately
to get a constitution of their desire.
Lance: That's Dr
Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly,
NCA, joining us on Behind the Headlines. Dr Madhuku, thank you very
much for joining us.
Madhuku: Thank you.
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