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Kabwato, Zimbabwe in Pictures
March 11, 2010
apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
~ William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming
A year ago,
a friend from the Seychelles brought me a lovely plaque bearing
the preamble to his country's constitution. It's a beautiful
opening for a constitution saying all the right things that should
infuse a document that puts people at the centre of democracy and
development. I didn't dare ask Jose why he was giving me this
plaque fearing he might refer to the convoluted journey to full
democracy my country was taking.
Political Agreement (GPA) was an unhappy conclusion to what
the people of Zimbabwe had said via the ballot on March 29, 2008.
We felt cheated that the will of the people had not been respected.
But then we were told this was now the realm of realpolitik, hardnosed
political decisions had to be made to save lives and to stabilise
the economy. We grudgingly accepted this dubious bank cheque.
Two years later
we are now a nation in need of massive doses of Prozac, the cheque
is counterfeit. The constitutional process is turning into a farce
and the costs to the nation will be deep and long-lasting. The costs
will have nothing to do with the price tag of the whole noble exercise.
1. At the outset
of the process parliament via the Speaker of the House was to take
the lead. Increasingly though, it is the executives (government
ministers) who have stepped in and taken over the process. In other
words the constitution is now being negotiated by politicians as
part of the GPA and not a people driven nor representative process;
2. Civil society
has been divided between those who saw an opportunity to influence
the process and result and thus chose to participate and those who
rejected the whole process as a sham and dismissed it as "not
3. The former
ruling party, ZANU PF, has taken a stance to promote the Kariba
Draft (this was the agreement cobbled by the three political
parties in 2007 as part of the negotiations to resolve the political
crisis and is an inherently defective document as many organisations
have pointed out);
and factions have emerged in the wider civil society, the trades
union, the student movement, academia and the media.
But can we continue
to dither on this critical matter of the nation's guiding
compass? As one analyst asked recently, "Can we honestly expect
a defective process to give us the outcome we desire?" Recent
statements by the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition and the NCA,
respectively, raise key concerns.
The second coming
of the constitution-making process (the first was in 1999) should
not be allowed to be an illusion or to break the country apart.
Zimbabwe has neither the time nor the resources for "politricks"
at this point in our history. A whole generation of young people
has grown up to be adults knowing only strife and hunger, and that
is not a good omen.
to the constitution it is time we separate our intellectual and
organisational energies from political parties and begin to demand
of those in the Government of National Unity, an unambiguous commitment
to a genuinely people-driven constitution-making process and a clear
time-frame for free, fair and credible general elections.
There is urgent
need for civil society and ordinary citizens to come together under
a national congress and chart a common vision around the constitutional
process. It will, of necessity, be a painful process for many of
us as we would have to set aside our stadium-sized egos and admit
our failures and disillusionment, but the process should begin.
The only certainty
we know, and need to remember, is that Zimbabwe will outlive us
all and so the living, and those that will come after, deserve a
life with dignity.
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