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the Headlines with Dr Lovemore Madhuku, NCA
Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
October 14, 2010
that the National
Constitutional Assembly will begin a NO VOTE campaign against
any draft constitution from the parliamentary committee, SW Radio
Africa journalist Lance Guma speaks to NCA chairman Dr Lovemore
Madhuku. Should the NCA not wait to see the draft first? Will rejecting
the draft not leave us with the current defective Lancaster House
as happened in 2000?
Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to Behind the Headlines.
Now this week, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly
Dr Lovemore Madhuku was quoted as saying the NCA is beginning to
mobilise for a 'no' vote campaign starting next week
Monday. So what we've decided to do is get the NCA chairperson
Dr Madhuku onto the programme and discuss these reports in detail.
Va Madhuku thank you for joining us.
Madhuku: OK thank you very much for inviting me to the
Now let's start off with what you are planning next week.
What is this?
What we are planning next week is not very different from what we've
been doing in the past ten years - we are planning to be going
into various communities in the country, various places and talk
to people about the constitutional reform process.
We will be discussing
with people the state of affairs with the current constitution making
process but with a clear message that this process has failed as
we had indicated before so the way forward must be to stop or disband
the COPAC process. The politicians would obviously want to continue
with the process and that we must be prepared to vote against any
document coming out of the process.
So really we
are meeting up with the members of the public but at the same time
preparing them to vote 'no' should the politicians go
ahead with the referendum on the draft coming out of this process.
Guma: Now some
will say to you why don't you wait for the draft to come out
before taking a position to reject something that you have not seen?
Madhuku: I think
that it is not necessary to wait to see the draft. The position
of the NCA is that a constitution must never be imposed by politicians.
A constitution must come genuinely from the people so already at
this stage, as we speak today, there's been no genuine input
from people, the process has been driven from top down and so it
is clear that its not about whether they produce a very good constitution
or what people think you can.
You can always
write a constitution from your bedroom but if you were to write,
if you were to tell us that you were writing a constitution from
your bedroom and you are discussing it with your wife but you must
wait and see whether it is a good constitution or not, for us we
will not wait.
Once the methods
of trying to draft a constitution is wrong, we will not wait for
the product. That product is itself wrong by virtue of the process.
So even as we are going on, it is clear to us that when the time
comes (inaudible) . . . .there's no need to wait.
Guma: Now I've
spoken to several politicians in COPAC and they've thrown
similar allegations at the NCA saying what makes the NCA people
driven if our process composed of members of parliament can be described
as not people driven by the NCA?
Madhuku: I think
those politicians you are speaking to do not understand the role
of the NCA. The NCA is not there to write a constitution so it is
nonsensical to want to characterise the NCA as either people driven
or not people driven.
The NCA is a
group of views by Zimbabweans, it is a group of Zimbabweans who
have a particular view and are insisting on that view. So its not
about WE imposing anything, the NCA believe that a good constitution
can only come from a process which is led by an independent commission
and that is the message we are spreading across.
the message we'll be going out with to the people, we will
engage people. We are not there to write a constitution for Zimbabweans.
So I think it is completely misunderstanding the role of the NCA
to seek to want to equate the NCA with the politicians.
We are just
saying to the politicians it is not your role to be writing a constitution
or even to lead the process. Your role is to facilitate the appointment
of an independent commission which will be genuinely engaged in
getting a new constitution for the country.
Guma: Now if
you are opposed to the current process as currently either constituted
or in the way they are working, what is your alternative? Can you
explain this clearly for people so that they can understand the
difference between what you are suggesting and what is currently
you very much for that, I shall explain clearly. What is currently
happening is that the committee which is going around, which is
leading the process of gathering the opinions of the people is made
up of politicians from all three political parties.
And that committee
behaves in accordance with the wishes of the political parties that
have members there so it currently has a ZANU PF, MDC-T and MDC-M
element and everything they are doing will be driven by political
But what we
are suggesting, what we are proposing as an alternative comes from
the premise that Zimbabwe is not about three political parties.
Zimbabwe is about its people, we should not (inaudible) political
parties. Political parties come and go.
Today you have
a ZANU PF, tomorrow there's another party, today there's
MDC tomorrow there's another party so it is wrong to want
to organise people along political lines. When you are writing a
constitution you must seek to organise people as people, without
putting them in categories.
So we are proposing
that there be a commission which is chaired not by a politician
but by an independent person. We would prefer a judge of the High
Court or Supreme Court or a former judge of the High Court or Supreme
Court. What we have seen with even ZEC which is chaired by (Justice)
Mutambanengwe, the one that they have just put in place.
We still want
something similar and at commission the chairperson must be an independent
person and our preference is a judge. If we can't get a judge
you can get a man of integrity from the church, a member of the
Then the members
of that commission must be drawn from Zimbabweans of all walks of
life so you have trade unionists there, you have legal people there,
you have academics there, you have members of the media there, you
have some political party people there but the commission, this
should be made up of quite a number of people, it can be a hundred,
it can be two hundred people but these people must be brought together
not on the basis of which party they represent but on the basis
of walks of life that they are coming from and that is a very big
difference from COPAC.
COPAC is just
three political parties and other parties are not there. Then once
you have this commission it does not, it should not operate on the
basis of outreaches on the nature that we have seen, you organise,
we will be coming to this place at such an hour.
must operate on a permanent basis, on a daily basis, it can just
come tomorrow, knock at the door and say we are from the commission
today we think if you have 30 minutes or an hour, we want to hear
what you think as a family about the issues to do with the constitution.
The next day
they go to a church, they go to people where they are at their own
time then they of course have outreach of this nature because it
will not depend on the fact that if you are not there you are done,
you are finished, you are not going to be giving input.
So even the
methodology of getting the views of the people will be different
because the commission will also work from existing drafts, it will
go to the university, it will go high schools, it will go to the
colleges, it will go to women's clubs as I've indicated
- now what is COPAC doing?
meetings - and says there will be a meeting at Chitungwiza
hall at 9am on this day and the next day that meeting has been postponed,
the next day that meeting has been postponed and so on and then
you never have the meeting. People change. If you are attending
a funeral when COPAC is doing its visitation that's the end
of the matter but with an independent commission we will give it
a space of like six months or whatever more depending on what discussion
They will be
able to come to people during the evening even if you are waiting
for the body to arrive, this guy from the commission will just be
sitting there as one of you, talking to people and so on. That's
what we mean by a people driven process.
Guma: Now several weeks ago I hosted a debate between NCA's
spokesperson Madock Chivasa and Pedzisai Ruhanya from the Crisis
Coalition in Zimbabwe and we got into a debate over how this process
should have been constituted with of course Mr Chivasa stating the
same position that you are stating right now but Ruhanya put forward
an interesting question which I would like to pose to you.
was that even if this process was led by God, ZANU PF would have
still disrupted it so is that not what should have been addressed?
This culture of impunity where ZANU PF does as it pleases in terms
of violence. Is that not what is the biggest threat to constitution
Madhuku: I think
for a start this approach where people look at ZANU PF versus the
rest of the people is not the kind of Zimbabwe that we want to create.
It's still a mistaken assumption that only ZANU PF is to blame
for the kind of problems we have in terms of the constitution making
If the process
was led by God then obviously there would be no violence. God is
more powerful than ZANU PF so I think that remains beside the point.
If you have an independent commission the process would not be subject
to violence for the very simple reason that the first task of an
independent commission is to plan how to go around violence, how
to go around ZANU PF violence if that is what is preferred in terms
of talking about it.
But with the
COPAC process you had ZANU PF at the forefront of being part and
parcel of the violence with you as you were organising everything.
If you have an independent commission it will have to start from
the premise that how do you go about violence. I'm sure one
of the things they will agree to do they will not do the outreach
programme in some areas in the way of these open ended public meetings.
You might do
door to door visitations which is what independent commissions do,
they might find other ways of engaging the public and it's
not a one day affair so you will be able to get to people in their
various communities and in some aspect go to them yourself.
You go to the
church during..(inaudible) and you ask for one hour, two hours to
talk to the people, you go to a club and talk to them, you go to
universities, you go to colleges, you go to your workplaces, this
is the scope of an independent commission running a process which
is so well organised and so sophisticated that violence does not
If you go to
a workplace where workers don't identify themselves on the
basis of being ZANU PF or not ZANU PF you would be able to talk
to them. If you go to a club where people are just meeting for a
different purpose, even when you are at a funeral, you are sitting
there, you are waiting for the body to arrive and so on, you could
debating and gauge what the mood of the people is.
We are not talking
about new things here. In South Africa there was a process which
did not necessarily require public outreach meetings everywhere,
it is a question of saying well if I go to the beer hall then I
can talk to those people, if I go everywhere so it's clear that
an independent commission would not be subjected to violence.
Those who believe
that violence would come anyway, they are I think thinking in a
kind of a narrow manner where they think that the constitution making
process will have to be done exactly the way COPAC was trying to
organise. Not at all.
Guma: Now there
was some suggestion that instead of having this outreach, what this
group should have done was to look at the various constitutions
that have been drafted so far, the Chidyausiku one, the NCA draft,
the one the MDC put forward, the Kariba draft and any other drafts
that have been put forward by different groups and pick out the
best bits from that. What's your response to that?
is clear is that for a new constitution here in this country it
must be people driven. Any process that you embark on must be legitimate,
must involve people, must ensure that at the end the genuine views
of the people are captured.
If you just
sit there and get the draft and start writing something just from
reading the draft that won't be people driven. But if you
start from the draft, get a draft and then get to the people on
the basis of that draft that's a different matter.
Or you start
by talking to the people about how to handle draft and do it in
a non-partisan manner anything is possible but what is not acceptable
is where you just write a constitution from reading various documents
from your office and say now this is the new constitution.
So the processes will have to be determined by continuing to engage
people and finding out how, ultimately you cannot avoid discussing
with people over a considerable period.
Now there's the often repeated argument or fears expressed
that like you successfully as the NCA campaigned against the Chidyausiku
draft in 2000, some quarters argue that that left us by default
with the current defective Lancaster House constitution so if you
are planning a similar 'no' vote campaign does that
not lead us up the same garden path?
Madhuku: I think
it is also a wrong notion to think that if we reject a constitution
that is being suggested by the current process or any process which
is not people driven we are going back to Lancaster. If you get
a bad document you cannot then say that you are better off with
a bad document as long as that bad document is not Lancaster House.
We are not opposed
to Lancaster House as Lancaster House, we are opposed to an undemocratic
constitution. So if you have various forms of undemocratic constitutions,
there is no point in accepting them, it doesn't make sense
to move from one to the other.
So the issue
is not about going back, we will always be where we are namely that
we are governed by an undemocratic constitution. If you put forward
to us another version of an undemocratic constitution you'll
expect that we will reject it and we will reject as many undemocratic
constitutions as are presented to us.
So we can go
through the next 100 referendums as long as those we will vote 'no'
if what we are being asked to say 'yes' or 'no'
to is an undemocratic constitution. It's very simple. The
next phase if we get another 'no' vote this time around
I can assure you that that is the quickest way to a democratic constitution.
think any other politician will try again. This time we've
had to get this second because the constitution is just something
we have forgotten what we did and then we can go around and play
around with that.
Guma: Now the
tremendous success that you achieved in rejecting the 2000 draft
was mainly because of the alliance that was there between the NCA,
MDC and other groups, the MDC is now in government and some are
saying without the MDC it will be hard for you to achieve the 'no'
vote that you'll be campaigning for.
tremendous success the way you are describing it which we got in
2000 was achieved not because of the MDC alliance or the NCA alliance
with other civic groups. It was achieved because we had a genuine
cause. People believed that it was not appropriate to get the kind
of constitution that we had.
Of course some
people were, there were many people who were on the same side arguing
that point. Even if the NCA were to go it alone, as long as the
NCA is opposing an undemocratic constitution they'll get the
support of the people here so it's completely irrelevant that
the MDC is in government.
If the MDC in
government supports an undemocratic constitution they will realise
that people are not that stupid. Is it being suggested that the
MDC or anyone else can sell anything to the people even if something
that is poisonous to the people they will accept because it is coming
from the MDC.
a very wrong, in fact a very wrong notion, that's what we've
been fighting against. People will not vote because someone says
vote in a given way. They know to vote in a given way because they
believe that is the best way to go and for us, all we'll be
saying to the people is here is an undemocratic constitution, you
are being asked to endorse it to replace another undemocratic constitution.
You have a right
surely to say no to that kind of abuse, vote 'no' and
people will do that. In fact we are better off campaigning for the
'no' vote on our own than with the support of people
who don't understand why we are doing it. We want quality
votes and the only person who can vote 'no' is a person
who understands why they are voting 'no' and I think
we have enough people in this country who understand that.
Guma: But isn't
the problem Dr Madhuku the fact that in terms of our political culture
people tend to wait for a signal from political parties and say
OK what does the party that I support, what is their position on
this and follow like sheep towards a particular position? Would
you not accept the reality that that is how people make decisions?
fact that is the kind of thing we are fighting, the work of the
NCA is to go against that. We are educating the public not to go
that route. I can assure you that we are building a Zimbabwe which
we can be proud of, a Zimbabwe where people think about issues and
not about personalities and come the referendum we have an excellent
opportunity for Zimbabweans to reach that level of development where
they don't look at issues on the basis of what politicians
say but look at issues on the basis of what their interests are
and that is what we are going to be doing. The NCA works very hard
to achieve that and I've no doubt that we will succeed.
Guma: That is
the NCA chairperson Dr Lovemore Madhuku joining us on Behind the
Headlines. Dr Madhuku thank you so much for your time.
Thank you once again for an interesting discussion.
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