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No elections without a new constitution
Trust Matsilele, African Path
May 21, 2007

As the mediation formalities proceed the word of caution from the National Constitution Assembly continues to get louder eventually this will make the opposition MDC and the ruling ZANU PF find it impossible to ignore that constitutional issue is fundamental in restoring democracy in Zimbabwe.

"A people-driven democratic constitution must remain an un-negotiable precondition", reads part of the recommendations submitted to those in mediation efforts as a way of finding a lasting solution to the economic and political impasse crippling Zimbabwe. The recommendations were submitted by the National Constitution Assembly.

For sure any legitimate leader who believes in his electorate can never deny something democratic which himself will eventually benefit from. President Mugabe knows he has a huge following so nothing can or should stop him from according the rest of Zimbabweans their democratic right they are fighting for. This is the right to a democratic people driven constitution.

Itai Zimunya of Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition addressing a rally demonstrating in Johannesburg in solidarity with Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions asked President Thabo Mbeki at Buenos Naude square to bring the constitutional issue to the attention of President Mugabe. Zimunya warned that if ZANU PF went ahead with elections without a new constitution it would be an election of Robert Mugabe against Robert Mugabe and the winner eventually being Robert Mugabe

In the first Save Zimbabwe campaign meeting held in Johannesburg, a couple of months ago, addressing the meeting, NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku made it clear that under the present situation the MDC would not win any election with a considerable margin as instruments at play now promotes ZANU PF.

Zimbabwean Constitution at the present moment avails executive powers to a single individual which makes it impossible for other competitors to wage a meaningful battle as he becomes both the player and the referee. The draft constitution proposed by the NCA called for an impartial and Independent Electoral Commission which no person can or would interfere with.

The draft proposal also suggested that the Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee to be set up would make nominees for those to be involved in the electoral commission which the president would pick from but at the current situation the president chooses to his liking without any recommendations and those who comprise it are strong ZANU PF members.

As much as the opposition is desperate to be in power it must not forget that it has contested all elections since its formation in 1999 and has lost all (ZANU PF won with two thirds majority in all elections) and as long it goes for another election without a democratic constitution it will encounter defeat which will eventually derail its constituency.

In the past the opposition has been warned by the NCA for a need to have a democratic constitution to ensure free and fair elections but it has not hearkened to the call partly because of its desperation to be in power. Currently the MDC factions vowed never to go for the Zaka by-elections as the parliament will be dissolved in December and its new approach of no elections without a new constitution.

The question still ringing in the minds of many is will the MDC also boycott next year elections? Zaka is a stronghold of ZANU PF would the MDC have done the same had it been Kuwadzana, Budiriro or Highfields? The MDC should grow in politics and start being realistic, as long as the constitution operating today is not changed or amended Mugabe can win a thousand times.

Abednico Bhebhe from MDC led by Professor Arthur Mutambara and Roy Bennet from Morgan Tsvangirai affirmed they would not go for any elections as past mistakes had taught them that Mugabe would not lose in any elections as he enjoyed leverage accorded by the present constitution. Responding to the promise Dr Madhuku acknowledged the pledge and said this time he trusted the MDC would boycott elections as going for elections would be a way of legitimizing elections that are already rigged.

Now the BIG question is will Mugabe offer Zimbabweans another chance to participate in a referendum for a constitution, does he have the finances to run that referendum, is the MDC prepared to linger to the end of 2008 in an event Mugabe uses time as an excuse? Then if he denies the issue of constitution altogether will the MDC boycott elections? Are MDC's urban legislatures prepared to boycott even their lavish life, including their twin cabs for the sake of restoration of democracy? Tsvangirai is not going for an election so is Mutambara only time will tell who the traitor is the one who is going to call for MDC's involvement in an election before sanity returns in the operating ground.

One thing that must be clear to both the MDC and ZANU PF is that a people driven constitution is there to benefit all Zimbabweans irregardless of political affiliation.

NCA chairman has in the past cleared the air after being linked with the MDC that the NCA was not there to remove Mugabe and that it would be to the best interest of the NCA even for Mr Mugabe to win in a democratic institution which is not there now.

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