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New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
camels, constitutions, and elections
Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) and Idasa
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A wit once commented
that a camel was a horse designed by a committee. Very rarely are
designs of anything useful the result of compromises, and especially
compromises where the parties involved in design have radically
different ideas. This might be a fair characterization of the draft
constitution. This was perhaps inevitable with the Global
Political Agreement as it stood, for this was not a transitional
arrangement, but a peace agreement to lead to a transition, which
it patently has not done.
(and repeatedly) has insisted on a very simple understanding of
what should happen under the GPA: A new constitution and reforms
in the many areas that would guarantee acceptable elections. Note
the expected direction of events: Constitution and reform, then
elections, not constitution, then elections and thereafter reform.
The latter is now what Zimbabwe will offer SADC.
In 2010, RAU
pointed out that there were no good grounds for expecting that
the GPA would lead to any significant reforms and the only probable
way of resolving the inherent problems in the GPA would be an election,
and an election that ZANU PF could not afford to lose. We were pessimistic
about the chances of getting a new constitution, and even more pessimistic
about the chances of reform. We were wrong about the constitution
- we now have a draft ready for referendum – but we were wholly
correct about the lack of reforms. RAU, SAPES,
Peace Trust, and the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform, have consistently
argued that the political crisis cannot be resolved by constitutional
change in the absence of major reforms - the restoration of national
institutions as we have termed this. As we pointed out in March
are talking about elections or “normal” civic life,
it seems evident that much needs to be done before Zimbabwe could
be seen once again to approximate a democracy. It is evident that
much must be done to ensure that elections conform to just the
minimum standards advocated by SADC, and considerably more if
the range of possible rigging strategies is to be reduced. However,
even if the necessary reforms to the electoral law and the implementing
body take place, and even if a new constitution emerges out of
the very conflictual constitutional reform process, little of
this will matter if the institutions that must support the constitution
and the electoral machinery are not brought under full civilian
control, and serve the citizenry as a whole. Restoring our badly
compromised national institutions is not an adjunct to electoral
and constitutional reform, it will be fundamental to the success
of these reforms, valid elections, and indispensable to civic
life as a whole.
are just as relevant in February 2013, and have been echoed recently
by both Dr Mandaza of SAPES and Wilfred Mhanda of the ZLP.
RAU has also
pointed out recently that it is possible to de-link the issues of
constitution and elections. Certainly if the Government were to
take seriously their commitments under the GPA (and to SADC), then
it would acknowledge that the reform process has been still-born,
and that the conditions for elections are not in place. Furthermore,
they are not in place even for the holding of a constitutional election.
of this, the referendum is clearly not unimportant, and there are
some very difficult issues to confront around the referendum, not
simply resolved by arguments over whether to vote Yes or No.
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