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Parliamentary Monitor
Parliamentary Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
Janaury 11, 2013

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Copac Draft - Yes or No?

Those of us who have been in civic society for some time will remember the popular 2000 referendum. If my memory serves me well, the crux of the matter then was whether the process leading to the draft was ‘people-driven’ or not. It was the process argument and not the content that ruled the day and the consequences of such an approach are with us today. It is interesting to note that the MDC then in opposition led the charge against the draft on the basis that it did not reflect the views of the people as the composition of the constitutional commission was biased against civic participation. Whether this allegation holds water or not is an argument for another day. Suffice to say that the argument then was that we wanted a people driven process. Come 2012 and a new referendum is upon us. The battle lines have been dawn with the MDCs calling for a ‘Yes’ vote to the Copac draft whilst Zanu PF has come up with a raft of proposed amendments to the draft. The question now is, is it about the process as in 2000, the content or both? It is important at this stage to make the following observations; there is a marked shift of positions. Whereas in 2000 the catchword was ‘people-driven’ at present it is ‘international best practices’. It appears there is now a new view that the people’s input is immaterial for as long as our constitution conforms to what we are now told are ‘international best practices’. It appears theses practices have been elevated to overshadow the people’s view as captured in the outreach programme . Now we are being asked to vote either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The question is not ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but yes or no to what? The yardstick for the endorsement or otherwise of the draft should be whether it reflects the views of the people as captured in the outreach programme or not. Period. (Mandla is a political activist based in Tsholotsho)

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