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Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
March 20, 2013
1. The conduct
of the referendum was neither credible nor satisfactory. This
arises from the following facts, among others:
- The notice
period given was inadequate and displayed lack of respect for
the people. It was extreme arrogance for the President to admit
this fact on the day he was casting his vote when he had deployed
all state resources to resist attempts by some citizens to delay
- Copies of
constitution were not available in reasonable numbers.
- State and
donor resources were only available for the “Yes”
- The “Yes”
campaign used hate speech. For example the Prime Minister described
the No campaign as being made up of “nhinhi”[Sunningdale]
and those intending to vote “No” as having mamhepo(evil
- The police
disrupted many “NO” campaign meetings and the atmosphere
was not conducive to public meetings by the “NO” campaign
to the extent that many voters had no access to the “No”
- ZEC was
not independent. For example, it failed to play its role in terms
of electoral law to monitor media coverage.
- The judiciary
was not independent. The courts dismissed, on suspicious grounds,
every application meant to make the referendum more democratic.
2. The NCA does
not accept that the YES vote means an endorsement by the people
of Zimbabwe of a new constitution. The draft Constitution is undemocratic
and will remain undemocratic and unacceptable when it becomes the
constitution of Zimbabwe. An undemocratic constitution does not
become democratic merely on account of voters being misled by political
leaders into a ritual of just voting “YES”.
3. A constitution-making
process does not become “people-driven” merely on account
of people being taken through rituals where they attend meetings
and say what they have been told to say nor is this achieved by
taking the people through the rituals of a referendum where they
are told to vote “Yes”.
- 4. In this
regard, the NCA wishes to be very categoric and unambiguous: we
reject in toto the notion that Zimbabweans have spoken and have
accepted the Draft Constitution. We hold that the “Yes”
vote is illegitimate. The referendum result is therefore illegitimate
and not acceptable to us. This is because:
- 95% of the
“Yes” voters had neither seen nor read the Draft constitution.
- 95% of the
“Yes” voters knew nothing about the contents of the
- The “Yes”
voters, by their own admission, said they were voting “Yes”
because they were following orders from political leaders to do
- The voters
had not been afforded an opportunity to hear and/or listen to
the points of view of the “No” campaign. The “No”
campaign was systematically denied access to the public media
while messages of the “Yes” vote were the order of
the day. The only time a “Yes” will mean a “Yes”
to a Draft Constitution is when voters have been exposed to the
contents, have heard opposing views and have genuinely voted “Yes”.
Where voters are prevented by self-serving politicians from accessing
alternative views, a “Yes” is invalid.
- The 179
489 voters who rejected the Draft Constitution knew what they
were doing: they had all been subjected to a “Yes”
campaign but rejected it. Many of them had considered the arguments
for the “No” campaign and embraced them.
- The 56 627
rejected votes voted “NO” either by writing it or
spoiling the ballot in other ways.
- There are
over 7,5 million Zimbabweans with National IDs and this is the
eligible voter population. The reported 3,3 million who voted
is just 44%. What is the view of 56%? This is clearly voter apathy.
In any event, the claim that 3,3 million people voted is a fraud
by ZEC. To claim that there was close to a million more voters
in the referendum than in the March 2008 harmonised elections
is to take the public for fools.
- In matters
such as the constitution, the focus must not be just on eligible
voters but on the entire population. There are about 13 million
Zimbabweans. The 95% of the 3 million Zimbabweans who took the
irresponsible decision of voting “Yes” to a document
that they had neither seen nor read cannot bind the conscience
of the rest and future generations. Those who are not eligible
to vote should have been afforded the opportunity to read the
Draft Constitution and contribute to debate, thereby influencing
the formation of a genuine national opinion. This did not happen
principally because the current political leaders were pushing
a narrow, self-serving and partisan agenda.
- As soon
as more people get to read the draft Constitution (or Constitution,
when it gets enacted) they will realise the folly of the “Yes”
vote and will join those rejecting it. That point will be reached
soon and it will be apparent to the generality of the people that
our country does not have a democratic constitution, notwithstanding
the referendum of 16 March, 2013.
- ZEC aided
the “Yes” vote. First, by misinterpreting the intentions
of thousands of voters in rural areas, particularly Mash East,
Mash Central and Masvingo who indicated that they wanted their
vote to be put on “President Mugabe”. These voters
should have been turned away but ZEC officials interpreted this
as a “Yes” vote when we all know that the President`s
vote is his secret. Secondly, ZEC did not turn away thousands
of voters who asked, on arrival, what the voting was all about.
ZEC officials in rural areas responded that it was all about voting
5. Just as Zimbabwe
has been under the undemocratic Lancaster House Constitution, henceforth
it shall be under an undemocratic GPA constitution. The Yes vote
merely means a change from Lancaster and does not mean a change
to a democratic constitutional order. For instance, there is no
way Zimbabweans can be said to have said “Yes” to:
a powerful President with unlimited powers and who appoints every
state official including Ministers, judges, ambassadors, permanent
secretaries, Commissions and so on.
- a huge and
expensive government with over 350MPS, given the state of our
- not electing
a new President whenever the office of President becomes vacant
in the next 10 years and leaving this crucial decision to a political
- A Bill of
Rights merely listing rights without effective mechanisms for
6. From the
foregoing, there can only be one answer: the crusade for a new,
democratic and people-driven constitution has to continue. The NCA
will intensify its efforts for a rejection of the so-called new
Constitution just as it has, for over 14 years, campaigned for the
rejection of the Lancaster House Constitution.
Given its experience and its growing base, the NCA believes that
it will take less time for the people of Zimbabwe to be convinced
to throw away the so-called new Constitution and introduce a truly
democratic and people-driven constitution.
7. The NCA dismisses,
with the contempt it deserves, utterances by the political leadership
which indicate the 16 March, 2013 vote as historic. It was not.
It was a dark page in our history as it demonstrated the continuing
sickness of our society where people are taken for granted by politicians.
The two leaders, the President and the Prime Minister, exhibited
lack of principled and moral leadership: they know so well that
the “YES” vote had nothing to do with the constitution
but they have the temerity to proclaim it as historic. It is this
kind of leadership which has brought our country down. If the two
of them genuinely believe that the “YES” vote was on
the constitution, then their heads must be examined! We believe
they are not genuine!
8. The NCA will,
in the next few months, convene meetings of its membership, including
its Congress, to review its strategies and map the way forward.
In this regard, the NCA is conscious of the fact that the purported
“Yes” vote of 16 March, 2013 has a fundamental bearing
on the future strategies of the NCA. Accordingly, the NCA membership
will decide whether or not the current NCA framework is suitable
for the big battle that lies ahead. The battle will be confrontational
because we realise that a ZANU(PF) joined by the MDC in hoodwinking
the general public is a formidable enemy of our quest for a new,
democratic, open, prosperous, just and caring society. The two political
formations have no monopoly in determining the destiny of our country.
From the credible base built over the years, the NCA will double
its efforts to win the hearts and minds of the people of Zimbabwe.
One immediate practical step is that this Press Statement will be
printed as a flier, translated into all main languages and distributed
throughout the country. We will not rely solely on Press coverage.
In addition, the NCA “NO VOTE” campaign flier will be
edited merely to remove the words “VOTE NO” and printed
again and distributed. Our campaign against the so called New Constitution
will be permanent and will only stop when our country adopts a truly
democratic and people-driven constitution. The new NCA strategies
will be finalised by the time a new government takes office in July
and will be announced publicly within a month of the taking of office
of that government.
9. We reject
as nonsensical the claim by some MDC leaders that what remains now
is to build a culture of constitutionalism. Constitutionalism cannot
be built on the base of an undemocratic constitution. More seriously,
does constitutionalism not start with a credible constitution-making
process? Once we start with the culture of not respecting the people
by asking them to vote “Yes” to a document they have
not seen, are we not undermining constitutionalism from the start?
10. The NCA
experience shows that it does not work to rely on others to push
for what one believes in. The NCA shall rely on itself to do everything
possible to ensure that one day we celebrate the adoption of a truly
democratic and people-driven constitution.
11. We urge
the people of Zimbabwe, including those who voted “YES”
to take time to read the so called new Constitution and thereafter
take further time to consider our arguments against the Draft Constitution.
This will enhance democratic growth and ensure that the next referendum
on a Draft Constitution will be legitimate.
12. We accept
that the country must now move to the election and urge Zimbabweans
to vote peacefully.
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