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Seat: Heated panel discussion on Zim draft constitution
SW Radio Africa
February 28, 2013
guests on the Hot Seat programme are Zanu PF’s COPAC co-chairman
Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, political commentator Professor Brian
Raftopoulos and the General Secretary of the ZCTU
Concerned Affiliates, Raymond Majongwe. They discuss why they will
vote YES or NO at the constitutional referendum next month. Political
parties were fighting
over every clause in the draft constitution but suddenly everything
changed and they started agreeing. What changed? Did President Mugabe
really say his ZANU PF party might change the constitution if he
wins the election?
Let me start with Mr Mangwana – you are encouraging Zimbabweans
to go and vote on March 16th to vote for this new draft
constitution – why do you think this is a better constitution?
I think this is a very good document; it has an extensive and comprehensive
Bill of Rights - covering political, economic, social and cultural
rights. It deals in finality the issue of the land; it provides
a government, which has checks and balances, clear separation of
powers between the executive, the legislation and judiciary. And
it deals with issues of transitional institutions; it provides for
devolution of power and also creates a democratic system where everyone
can participate. It also provides for local communities to enjoy
the fruits of whatever natural resources are in their areas, which
is a new feature in this particular constitution. I consider it
is a serious improvement; there are a lot of matters dealing with
gender balance, with creating special seats for women. We are also
introducing a senate which is almost 50/50 in terms of males and
females representation in there. So I think it’s a very good
Mr. Majongwe, it sounds like the perfect document – why are
you saying you will vote NO and what critical areas are you concerned
with as a labour movement?
Yah I think Mr Mangwana is really speaking from his Zanu PF position.
What he is basically telling the nation is that that is a Zanu PF
document. For some of us who are in labour it is going to be very
difficult for us to be convinced that this document is a people’s
document because it is not. It was not written by the people, it
is a document that is coming from the top down to us. It is being
forced onto us. It is unfortunate that the MDC-T and the MDC led
by Mutambara and Ncube have also decided to connive to cheat the
people of Zimbabwe into making us believe that this document is
what we were waiting for. This document is a fraudulent document.
It is being thrown to people but I think some Zimbabweans will stand
up and say we are going to vote NO because it does not carry the
proper message and it is not properly packaged.
But Mr Majongwe besides your general concerns that it’s not
people driven, what about the actual contents of the document? Do
you have any specific issues that you are concerned with?
Surely yes. I will start by saying workers don’t have the
right to strike in that document because what they give to us with
the right hand, they take with the left. They are basically trying
to lie to us that we have a right to strike, they turn around and
say to us, they are going to label some of those things that we
want as ‘essential services’ and who is going to be
sitting to say this is essential service - point one. Point number
two – collective bargaining is basically mentioned in the
document in Section 55 but if you go to Section 203, it’s
not there because the fixing of salaries is then deposited in the
hands of the President, the minister who will then determine this.
So where is the collective bargaining if the fixing of salaries
is then going to be left to the President?
The other point
that also bothers us as workers is you are going to be told that
as a civil servant you cannot be office bearers of any political
party, which we find quite shocking in that at the end of the day
many of the people who are currently in cabinet or in government
are former civil servants but they are turning around to say anybody
who is a civil servant cannot stand up and be taken as an office
holder in a political party. So as far as we are concerned we are
simply going to vote NO. For instance there is no right for jobs
or economic empowerment, there’s no right to education, grant
loans, the youth quota, and all these things are not there. For
instance the issue of the living wage, it’s definitely not
Professor Raftopoulos, I understand that you will vote YES –
can you tell us why and also you were in the National
Constitutional Assembly when it voted NO in 2000 so what has
Well I think the first thing to point out is that this constitution
was a central part of the mediation process. It was always therefore
going to be a compromise document and part of a broader process
of trying to establish the conditions for free and fair elections
- which was the original objective of the SADC mediation. There’s
clearly things in the constitution which are problematic; there’s
also things which I think establish a very good basis for moving
forward and I think that as part of a long term process of discussion
between the parties which was established through the mediation,
it’s a step forward and one should look at it as that.
In terms of
the differences, I think the 1990s, the conditions were very different;
of course we were fighting for issues of process but it was also
the time as I said when we were also looking towards challenging,
in a sense, state power, looking to look for bringing in to being
a new political dispensation and therefore the challenges, the issues
were different. The state of the civic movement, the emerging political
party was different. At the current moment we have three political
parties which have been involved in mediation after a long protracted
process which has been guaranteed by SADC and the AU and has produced
a document which I think provides some step forward in moving us
out of the current impasse. I don’t think this will be the
last word on the constitution but I do think that it helps to move
Which areas would you say are problematic?
Well I think for example devolution, clearly there’s a really
watered down section on devolution and I think many, many people
especially in certain parts of the country would have expected a
stronger position around devolution. There’s also the old
issue of concentration of power in the presidency which continues
to be a problem but as I said also there’s issues of checks
and balances, new commissions, new areas of change within the judiciary
particularly the Prosecuting Authority, a strong Bill of Rights
so there are areas where some things can move forward and there’s
no way that any one party was going to get everything it wanted
out of this transitional discussion, out of this discussion which
came out of a compromise and I think one has to look at it through
that lens and find ways to move forward out of this process.
What about the people? What do they get from this especially when
the president said a few weeks ago that this was a document that
was crafted by the political parties which some have said is in
violation of the GPA?
RAFTOPOULOS: I think what the GPA stated was this
would be a parliamentary process, parliamentary-led process and
that there would be consultation. There was I suppose a certain
level of consultation, not as much as many would have wanted and
certainly issues that were brought up in the consultation may not
have been placed in the context of the constitution. But again that
was always going to be a negotiated thing; not everything that people
said could be included; it was going to be a negotiated issue between
the political parties – that was clear from the beginning.
I think it would have been naïve to expect it would have been
any other way given the political compromise that emerged after
Mr. Mangwana – the National Constitutional Assembly says that
with regards to executive powers this constitution gives too much
power to the President. Is it better or worse than the current constitution?
Ah well there’s a lot of consultation between the president
and other arms of government but let me correct something first
– the President is being misquoted for saying that the document
is to be negotiated. We were negotiating conflicting positions coming
from the people; we were not negotiating party positions. People
were saying things which are contradictory therefore it was necessary
for us to say which of the two should we put into the constitution
and that process then required us to negotiate. We were simply not
negotiating from the abstract - we were negotiating, basing our
negotiations on the outcome of outreach, of what people had said.
Right that aside, the current executive authority is shared between
the President and his cabinet. There are things the President cannot
do on his own which of necessity he has to work with his cabinet.
He can also not make certain appointments without consulting the
Standing Rules and Orders committee of Parliament - so there is
that checks and balances existing in the current draft.
GONDA: Mr Majongwe, can you come in on the issue
of the outreach programme because many of your colleagues in civil
society have complained that many people were not consulted and
the views of the people were not included in this draft constitution.
MAJONGWE: I think the most important thing here
is Mr. Mangwana is being very conservative with the truth. He cannot
tell us that the views that they were grappling with were the people’s
views when they basically were asking their parties, their people
to regurgitate their party position at all these outreach hearings.
A lot of the positions that were then brought up for discussion
were well choreographed, well discussed and agreed upon positions
that people in the rural areas were told to come and produce as
their own. So if these views are then carried from wherever that
will not make these views the views of the people, they are still
party positions. Both Zanu and MDC had their positions within their
own membership and these were the positions that were brought to
the table for discussion.
So as far as
I am concerned and as far as the constituency that I represent is
concerned, because we are the teachers we know exactly what was
happening because these things were happening in and around schools.
And we know that the people, who were coming, were coming to represent
specific political presentations. As far as the issues that he’s
raising, the President has all the authority – it’s
not like there are going to be any checks and balances – the
President has all the executive authority in terms of running this
So as far as
we are concerned we don’t want to be lied that the President
will share power, will be in consultation with cabinet – all
those things don’t exist as far as this document. And we must
also be able to stand up and say fine if this is what the people
in Zanu PF and the MDC have connived to agree to want to pass through
our throats, we are also going to stand up and say we don’t
agree because we are citizens of this country.
I just want
to add one exciting point that we also observed in this particular
process – the issue of land. Land has almost been given back
to the people who already have it. They are going to compensate
the capitalist system, they are going to compensate the property
of those guys who have always had this land and at the end of the
day I would want the MDC people to be around and tell us where exactly
are they going to come in with regard to the issue of land because
as far as I am concerned Zanu PF got everything that they wanted
in so far as protecting the land that they took from 2000.
Mr. Mangwana can you comment, in particular on the issue of the
land, and can you comment on compensation for farm workers?
MANGWANA: Ah what compensation for farm workers?
When the land was taken away from the whites and given to the new
black farmers and the same workers were taken over for employment
by the new farmers so there’s no need for any compensation
to talk about. But as far as land reform is concerned everyone was
invited to participate in the land reform programme. Those who were
then in the opposition thought that it was a political hoax and
they didn’t participate. So it is their fault! This is a historical
event, which has already taken place and it is irreversible! Whoever
has got land has got land, who doesn’t have land has no land!
But if there is any land, which is going to be given it will be
given decently and every citizen will be allowed to participate.
So I don’t know why Majongwe is complaining. If he wanted
a piece of land he should have joined the queue!
MAJONGWE: That is where the tragedy is! That is
where the tragedy is! Are we then going to say we are going to compensate
the white farmers who left and the black people who were working
and toiling for nothing are just going to be condemned and are going
to be inherited from the white farmer to the black farmer who is
not paying salaries? That is unfair! And as long as we are going
to be arguing for black empowerment, these blacks - the workers
- must be compensated just like you are going to compensate the
whites for owning the land that was not theirs!
Professor Raftopoulos can you come in and also your reaction to
the issue of property rights because the constitution allows anyone
to take land and any business, if I’ve read it correctly?
What can you say about this?
RAFTOPOULOS: Yah I think what the constitution does is
consolidate what Zanu PF has done in terms of the land. I think
you won’t get all the reconciliation on the land question
through the constitution. This land process has produced many contradictory
results. As recent research shows, it hasn’t been the complete
failure people thought it was but at the same time it hasn’t
ended the land question. It’s raised a whole series of new
issues, which are going to confront Zimbabweans throughout - for
the coming decades. So this issue hasn’t been resolved and
there are harder questions ahead. Questions which should have been
resolved through the land audit, which hasn’t happened. So
I think there are still a lot of issues around the land which wouldn’t
necessarily be dealt with simply through the constitution –
issues which will have to be dealt with through legislation coming
afterwards and through political and technical processes that need
to take place in the aftermath of what has happened.
This is the other question that I was going to ask you and since
Mr. Mangwana is here we will also ask him if he can confirm because
there are reports saying that President Mugabe has said the constitution
will be changed if his party wins, and so Professor Raftopoulos
I’m asking why should Zimbabweans always do things in half
measures especially when there’s a strong chance that the
constitution maybe be reformed after the general election?
I think the question is being misunderstood. He was explaining a
legal position that there is a clause, which allows the legislator
to amend any clauses in the constitution if it has a two-thirds
majority. That’s a legal position that the constitution is
not cast in stone. If anyone is unhappy with any clauses, which
are in there, they make the necessary lobbying; they can have those
amended by any government which is elected after the elections.
He is not saying as soon as Zanu PF wins they are going to amend
the same draft. I did not hear him say that and I was at the meeting
when he made that statement.
GONDA: Yes I was going to ask you if you could
confirm that, but Professor Raftopoulos can you also give us your
thoughts on this?
Yes I think Mr Mangwana is right on that – it is a legal position.
Either party who would win an election and have a majority could
effectively make changes in the constitution with a sufficient majority.
So I think that is a legal position and it’s clear that as
we go forward there are certain issues that will be tackled again.
Issues that parties might find that were unsatisfactorily dealt
with in the compromise document that will arise again. This is a
document that will continue to be contested because it was a highly
political process – a political process which came out of
a highly conflictual situation.
GONDA: Mr. Majongwe – the political parties
were fighting over every clause in this draft but everything seemed
to have changed suddenly and they started agreeing and it took Parliament
a day to adopt the constitution and a date was immediately announced
for the referendum. Are you surprised that this whole process is
now being fast-tracked?
MAJONGWE: My conscience seems to be telling me that if
all of a sudden a crocodile and a fisherman start agreeing that
they’re going to be doing fishing together then there should
be a very serious problem somewhere. I’m actually baffled
that all of a sudden why were we fighting if these two parties have
suddenly realized that they need one another? Why did we lose so
many lives if suddenly Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Ncube and Mutambara can
sit and shepherd this country out of the mud that they are claiming
that they are doing? What has been the problem all along?
What makes us
very suspicious is that when we look back we are quite worried that
the interests of the people who are working - the farm workers we
are talking about, the civil servants that we are talking about,
the vendors – they have no stake in the whole process. Those
people who committed the atrocities are scot-free; they will not
be touched. The women who committed atrocities will not, the young
activist who belong to several other processes are the ones who
are going to be dealt with in this constitution.
We are very worried and very disturbed and I think it is out of
years of experience that the MDC was completely whitewashed and
hoodwinked into believing that the land issue has been solved when
in actual effect Zanu PF has fortified and strengthened their position
on the land issue and have taken it completely. Because on the issue
of land – they’ve actually gone and refined it and said
the minerals under the land or in the land will belong to those
who own the land. This means as far as this situation is concerned,
even if the MDC wins, they will not control the mines, they will
not control the land because already those people who own the land
have full rights over it. We are also sadly going to compensate
the exploitative commercial farmers and we are concentrating and
protecting foreign interests ahead of the people who have been toiling
on this land and I’m actually very disappointed in the MDC!
GONDA: There are observers who say many in the
civil society who have been traditional supporters of the MDC-T
in particular, know there is a problem with this draft document
but don’t actually have the guts to go against the MDC. Is
I can’t speak for them but the most important thing is let
the truth judge us, let time judge us and I think I would rather
stand with very few people in one corner than go and join a bigger
group because the majority does not mean right. Even if the MDC
is going to win elections and condemn us and say to us you did not
support our cause, you are not going to be part of our processes,
so be it.
GONDA: Mr Mangwana why are you hurrying this draft
or this process through? Even the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,
who will administer the referendum, wants at least 60 days.
MANGWANA: We are not hurrying anything, this process
has taken more than four years and in any event we are not, as COPAC,
we are not responsible for setting the dates of the referendum.
We did our work as instructed by the Global Political Agreement
- we reported to Parliament and tabled our report to Parliament.
Then from then on the executive has taken over, they’ve set
the date for
the referendum and everything follows the executive orders.
Well the NCA says 30 days is not enough and even the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission has said that it needs at least 60 days - so do you think
it should be extended?
MANGWANA: That is the matter, which is before the
High Court and I cannot comment on it. The High Court is still to
express its view. I understand the NCA has lodged a legal suit
in the High Court complaining about this time period and no-one
is allowed in terms of the laws of this country, to comment on a
matter which is pending before the courts.
GONDA: Professor Raftopoulos what can you say about
that – the issue of extending the date at least to give people
time and also are you surprised that the three rival parties have
finally found each other to push for a YES vote when they have been
fighting all along?
RAFTOPOULOS: Well first of all I think the extension
– there is a legitimate case for an extension. I’m not
sure why the President rushed it to declare the referendum on the
16th because it’s clear to me that more time would not have
cost us much more and it would have been amenable to allowing people
a greater space to discuss and to operate. Regarding the convergence
of views – no I’m not surprised. I think that the parties
have been, despite the conflictual positions, have been finding
common spaces over the last four years and certainly have found
a common space around the constitution despite the disparities.
It is also clear that at least two of the principals in particular,
or the three who are there if you regard Mutambara as a principal,
have found common space even though they have kind of shut Ncube
out of their deliberations. But it’s clear there has been
some convergence. And that was clear after the Second All Stakeholders
Conference where it seemed there would be an impasse because having
gone through this long process one assumed all the parties had agreed
and then we were told this matter would be taken to the principals,
and very quickly after it had been taken to the principals, there
was complete agreement. So one is not sure exactly what happened
there but at this stage I think that you’re likely to get
a YES vote because the political parties have agreed but also because
as I have tried to argue, there are elements in this constitution
and in the whole political process which do allow us to move forward.
It would have been unrealistic to expect a constitution to resolve
all the political issues that we’ve faced. It’s a document,
a living document, which provides a framework but it’s not
going to guarantee everything. That comes with the politics of constitutionalism
and the opening up of democratic space which can only be fought
for in the coming years.
Mr Mangwana cynics say freedom of expression is enshrined in our
but people don’t have it in Zimbabwe - those in Zanu PF will
always do whatever they want with or without this new constitution.
MANGWANA: I think we will always have people who
will always see evil, think evil, sleep evil and eat evil. We are
moving into a higher mode of democratization, there’s a constitutional
court now. Anyone whose rights have been breached can take the government
to the constitutional court. It is also not true that we don’t
enjoy freedom of expression. What we are doing right now is a clear
testimony that there’s freedom of expression.
GONDA: You said that it’s not true there’s
no freedom of expression in Zimbabwe but one good example is with
the WOZA women who were arrested for demonstrating last week. What
is that about?
MANGWANA: No, no, no – if you infringe the
laws of the country, you cannot hide under freedom of expression.
You see you are allowed to demonstrate but you must make an application,
inform the police. If you don’t follow the laid down procedures,
you’ll be arrested. You can’t just demonstrate willy-nilly
everywhere. If you think that POSA
is unconstitutional, you take it to the concessional court and have
it nullified. If you can’t, then it’s constitutional
and as a citizen you must comply with its provisions.
Mr Majongwe as a civic leader, what’s your reaction to what
Mr Mangwana is saying?
MAJONGWE: I think that is the sickness that this
country has. Let me start by responding to the issue of the time
that has been given. I think that is part of the corruption that
somebody wants to steal and steamroll this document at supersonic
speed. You can’t tell me that you give people such short notice
and then tell us that they’re only going to do 70 000 copies
of the draft constitution. 70 000 copies will mean one document
for every 214 people and expecting the 214 people to be reading
the document in 16 days – it’s unbelievable.
I think it is
an insult to our conscience that the people, who are both liberators
in view of Zanu PF, and democrats in the name of the MDC, want to
do this to us. It is unbelievable but possibly because we are living
in this era of unbelievable things happening - possibly it would
I think the
most important thing that we want Mangwana and Douglas Mwonzora
to know is that the citizens of this country we must not be made
to believe that what the politicians say is right. We must have
the express right to demonstrate, to stand up and challenge these
comrades as and when we want. It must not be left to the political
parties to dictate and determine how this country is going to be
run and I think that is where the real problem is.
Some people say the future is not now but later and that although
the document is not perfect it is a document that we can work with
right now. You keep saying you will vote NO but what is the alternative?
MAJONGWE: The most important thing here is this
– when we want to build a horse and we end up building a camel,
and then we start saying to everybody because we have built an animal
that has four legs, let’s jump on it and move forward. That’s
not what we want. This decision should not be left to the political
parties to ultimately then package all of us, some of us who might
not necessarily be belonging to these political parties. It must
be done transparently. Give us enough time to read this document.
Possibly when you give us time we then can go out and say yes we
can vote YES. Not now. We have a membership of 14 000 people. We
will not be able to give each one of them this document. What of
those that are bigger – the churches? We want people to see
this document, it’s not a document for making buns, and it’s
not a recipe for baking meat or braaing meat. It’s a document,
which is going to be used to govern this country. If it took these
guys four years to come up with this haphazard document why do they
want 25 days to dispose of it? Mangwana must come and tell me where
collective bargaining is in this document! Why civil servants are
being taken away from the rest of the workers of this country? Why
are we being told that we must not join political parties? We are
not Brigadier Nyikayaramba all of us - we are not soldiers. They
must not write documents to deal with certain individuals and you
put the rest of us in straitjackets.
GONDA: And a final word Mr Mangwana?
I think I am inviting VaMajongwe for a one-to-one, I need
to educate him on the contents of the constitution more and I’ll
advise him that there’s a lot of collective bargaining provision;
civil servants are allowed to collectively bargain but I see that
he is leaving a window for us to meet each other somewhere - so
I’m inviting him for a one-to-one, let him phone me. My number
is 0773261510, let him contact me and I’ll have a one-to-one
with him and I’ll suppose I'll convince him to vote YES. I
see he’s moving towards me and I’m happy about that.
Look I think that Zimbabwe is coming out of a long history
of repression, both in the colonial period and in the post-colonialism
period where the law and constitutionalism have been used adversely
to close down rights. I think what we’re hoping for now is
to open up that debate, to open up that possibility, to move our
post-colonial state and the party, the parties that came out of
the liberation movement into a broader discussion around democratic
rights. That’s all democratic rights – civic, human,
economic, redistributive rights. To open up this discussion in a
much more transparent way and to allow for more tolerance. It’s
something that I think Zanu PF in particular has a great deal to
learn and I think that we all as Zimbabweans must fight to push
that process forward.
GONDA: And Mr Majongwe?
think the most important thing that we basically want to say is
that – this document was hurriedly produced; it is a Zanu
PF document. Sorry for me to say this but I think that the MDC was
hoodwinked into believing that this document speaks and represents
their interests. It doesn’t. To some of us a NO vote is guaranteed
whatever the outcome because we don’t agree with how it was
done and where we are being taken to as the citizens of this country.
Thank you very much Mr. Raymond Majongwe from the ZCTU, Professor
Brian Raftopoulos political commentator, and COPAC co-chairman Mr.
Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, thank you for a lively and informative
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