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31 years after colonial rule, the NCA ready to complete the change
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
April 16, 2011

31 Years after colonial rule , the NCA is ready to complete both the unfinished business of the liberation struggle and of the post - 2000 democratic struggle. It's almost fourteen years after the formation of the people's constitutional movement-the NCA in 1997, almost 12 years after the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999 by ordinary Zimbabweans, workers, students, the jobless, academics-Zimbabweans who believed that Zimbabwe's independence can be a much more tangible reality.

Yes, over a decade of an intense struggle for the further democratization of our country. Zimbabwe also finds itself under an inclusive government, a negotiated government in this year of our Lord 2011, 31 years after colonial rule. Yet today we sit and reflect as Zimbabwe on the gains of the liberation and celebrate the historic achievements of freedom from colonial rule.

The NCA today pays tribute to the gallant sons and daughters of this great country who fought fearlessly for the independence of this country. It is in the same spirit that we register our deep concerns over the way the ZANU-PF government has destroyed the national fabric of this great country.

As we celebrate these thirty one years of self rule we are disappointed that today the culture of ZANU-PF has become so endemic in our society. It is ironic that the state apparatus that are meant to protect the people of Zimbabwe and foster an environment of peace (the army and the police) have become the chief perpetrators of violence and chief violators of human rights. We deplore in the strongest terms the abuse of state machinery by ZANU-PF for political gains.

The NCA struggle for a new constitution is rooted in the principles of the liberation struggle. Now, 31 years after independence ZANU PF want us to believe that the liberation struggle was just about economic independence and material needs. Yes it was, but that is selective articulation of the liberation struggle. Like what the NCA advocates for today, the war was about ordinary people's participation in political processes e.g One Man One Vote, it was about freedom of assembly, association and expression . On this the NCA is determined to complete the and fulfil the principles of the liberation struggle war, that is economic and democratic rights.

The NCA is also concerned with what we have witnessed in the people's alternative to ZANU-PF the MDC-T. The kind of violence we are witnessing in the on-going provincial congresses is an aberration to democratic practice.

The previous year 2010, 30 years after independence was a tough year for the National Constitutional Assembly. It was a year as many of you will remember that we saw many foolishly believing that the constitutional movement's organization was due to the presence of donor funds. I was humbled by the conviction of ordinary man and women who believed at that crucial moment that the future of their country and lives were not tied and would never be tied to those that have money. A conviction that the democratization of this great country was a deep rooted belief that we will undertake with or without friends until we succeed. Based on this conviction we had one of our successful years- we built serious momentum for the Take Charge Campaign and we launched in two phases (Harare and Johannesburg) the Act Now against political Violence targeting Women.

There has been talk and speculation about election and it is sad that in a nation thirty one years after independence decisions to hold an important national event as an election becomes a preserve of a few. As it stands it appears no-one knows when an election will happen except Mugabe. The donor funds obsessed COPAC now says the Constitutional Referendum will happen in September if donors give them money. Now 2011 is with us, thirty one years after independence - what is it that we must do?

The NCA as you saw towards the end of 2010 was serious on taking the people back to the centre of the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis. This year we are intensifying our village, township and farm meetings. We were, as we are today, fully committed to the same National Working Peoples Convention and its commitment to democracy as well as social and economic justice. In the eleven or so years since the NWPC and the formation of the MDC, we have also steadfastly maintained that true democratic change can only be arrived at via a people driven constitution making process and this is reaffirmed in the Zimbabwe's People's Charter.

This is why we rejected unapologetically the inclusive government's constitutional reform process as led by the Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) in terms of Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).This is why the NCA in at this point of celebrating 31 years of independence will focus on two major campaigns outside our civic education namely the Take Charge campaign dedicated to campaigning for a 'NO' vote in the pending constitutional referendum and the Act Now against Political Violence Campaign which seeks to build capacity in communities to take a stance against political violence. In campaigning for a NO VOTE in the referendum the NCA is just re-affirming that Zimbabwe needs a home grown, people driven and democratic constitution. This is a given.

A "NO" vote does not mean that people want to be governed by the current Lancaster House Constitution. It does not mean that we want future elections to be held under the current Lancaster Home Constitution. It simply means that we want a good constitution and we are rejecting a bad one.

In opposing the Kariba and COPAC process, we are not opposing this moral demand. We are fulfilling it. Our argument is that the mistakes of 1979 cannot be repeated. And neither should we settle principle in the toilet for expediency. Constitution making is in itself a continuation of a political struggle for democracy. It the fight for a democratic constitution, we are qualifying the dream of a Zimbabwe we want.

The parliament process is just but a distraction that will result in regret for the democracy movement if allowed: it is robbing the nation an opportunity for genuine dialogue and debate, and robbing citizens an opportunity to build a society in which the disasters of the past cannot repeat themselves. And in this together with our partners the ZCTU and ZINASU we will be victorious. Once it is achieved, we will once again take up the task of ensuring a people driven constitution. Simultaneously we will call the inclusive government to account on its actions and we will reject any calls for an election within such a repressive environment.

The NCA will also with the same zest focus on its campaign working with women's groups in Zimbabwe and outside the country build its campaign against political violence especially that which targets women.

Together with the ZCTU, ZINASU, the Women's Coalition in Zimbabwe, RAU, POWA, CDP. Khulumani, Afrika Contact and many other friends in the region and beyond we will raise the voice of women in activism and against political violence. we will demand accountability from the politicians of the day and demand an end to a culture of political violence. We will under that campaign build response mechanism and preventive mechanisms in communities to this barbaric scourge that politicians especially ZANU PF have been thriving on.

Others (COPAC chairpersons and a few) have sort to argue that we are taking the wrong path. We are persuaded that contrary to these assertions we are on the revolutionary path. We believe it is now time we reclaim the country from the peddlers of false hope and distributors of patronage via the state, international donors and state/party embedded corporate businesses. We too are believers in our country and its people beyond the narrow confines of political partisanship as has been sadly demonstrated by the inclusive government. We are committed to the betterment of the lives of all Zimbabweans and we ask you all to join us, to join the new phase of the struggle for freedom in Zimbabwe, the struggle of the many against the few, the struggle against hunger, deprivation, oppression and elitist politics; the struggle for the full realization of the ideals of an independent, democratic and people centred Zimbabwe. A Zimbabwe where education is free and accessible to all and a good health delivery system.

This goal is not only confined to democratizing the political landscape. It is fool hardy to imagine a democratic political system without a democratic economic and social order. To achieve these, public power must be constrained as much as possible on all spheres. It is essentially because of this that we cannot, and will not allow the charade of a process that is already dead to be used to push a draft written in a boat by three lawyers representing their masters (which is why you see the draft that will come out of COPAC will give Mugabe a fresh two year term).

This we cannot allow and we are convinced politicians will realise that Zimbabweans are clear on what they want and the Zimbabwe they want to build. We cannot have the process be driven by those whose power society seeks to limit! It has to be an independent commission - independent from this over-arching hand of politicians! I want to urge you all to be resolute and steady fast in this front line walk of advancement towards egalitarianism. Let us join hands, take charge and complete this change which is imminent. I shall be one in spirit and love, in loyalty and commitment with you all.

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