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Constitutional Amendment 18 of 2007 - Index of articles, opinion and anaylsis
has simply walked into the Zanu-PF lion's den
Tendai Dumbutshena, The Zimbabwe Times
October 02, 2007
the special index of articles, analysis and opinion on Constitutional
A JUDGE of South Africa's
constitutional court said in a recent case that if you walk into
a lion's den and meet a lion you should not complain that you met
a lion. Similarly, if you participate in an election whose processes
you know are thoroughly subverted, you should not complain if you
lose that election.
When an election looms
in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe with a coterie of enforcers, devises
a strategy to ensure victory. Invariably, this strategy involves
all manner of foul means. With the
2008 election on the horizon, Constitutional Amendment No. 18 was
crafted to achieve two main objectives. First and most important
was to superficially create constituencies to bolster the number
of rural seats. This is where Zanu-PF has the means to terrorise
the electorate. The second objective was to give Mugabe some flexibility
to manage the internal politics of succession within his own party.
Other issues like the appointment of members of the House of Assembly,
given the preponderance of rural constituencies, became irrelevant.
The two factions of the
MDC, despite their infinite wisdom, buckled under pressure from
South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, to support the amendment.
With eyes wide open and smiles on their faces, they are being shepherded
by Mbeki along a path to political extinction. As a rule when your
enemies applaud a decision you make while your friends express dismay,
calamity is about to befall you.
There were strenuous
attempts by MDC leaders to justify their support for Amendment Number
18 after having rejected any piecemeal approach to constructing
a new constitutional dispensation. If you sift through the waffle
uttered by various officials you find two justifications. The first
is that it is to generate goodwill in the hope that it will be reciprocated.
The second is that Mbeki promised Zanu-PF's cooperation on issues
on the agenda of mediated talks. In an interview with an external
radio station, Welshman Ncube went further to argue that Zanu-PF
had actually made significant concessions that justified supporting
This argument is so totally
devoid of truth that it is not worth pursuing.
This is a classical example
of disinformation meant to conceal an abandonment of principle.
The issue of generating goodwill is laughable. Does the MDC not
realise the nature of the beast they are dealing with? A few years
back the Mdc abandoned its boycott of Mugabe's opening of Parliament
to create goodwill. The party's president , Morgan Tsvangirai, even
attended an opening of Parliament to put an official seal to what
he thought was an historic rapprochement with Zanu-PF. Today he
and his senior colleagues bear physical marks of Mugabe's response
to that gesture of goodwill. Mugabe loathes the MDC with every fibre
in his body. He will never accommodate them. He is now manipulating
the so-called mediation talks to trap the MDC into a poltically
suicidal pact. In Mbeki he has a willing accomplice. No wonder he
publicly thanked him for his efforts at the recent UN General Assembly
How can the leadership
of the MDC trust any commitments made by Zanu-PF, given the events
of the past seven years? Do they not realise that this party honours
agreements more in their breach than observance? Have they forgotten
the many broken promises including the Abucha Agreement to which
the then foreign affairs minister Stan Mudenge attached his signature?
The MDC cannot compromise on matters of fundamental principle, especially
on the basis of promises made by people who seek to destroy it.
The MDC has occupied
crucial political space in Zimbabwe. It must, therefore, provide
intelligent and principled leadership, Zimbabwe needs a new dispensation
that gives its people freedom and opportunities to develop the potential
of all its citizens. These are the values that must drive the MDC
or any serious opposition political party.
The people of Zimbabwe
want real change and not a replacement of this regime by copycats.
There has been incessant propaganda by Mugabe's regime that the
MDC is a puppet of western powers. There is a danger that in attempts
to disprove this, the MDC succumbs to pressure from Mbeki and other
African leaders to capitulate to Mugabe.
The MDC must not be put
on the defensive by leaders whose countries are dependent on Western
aid for their survival - the very people they accuse of supporting
It is not too late for
the MDC to redeem itself from the error it made in supporting this
self- serving amendment. The purpose of the SADC mediation process
is officially to create conditions for a free and fair election.
These conditions are clearly spelt out in the SADC protocol on the
conduct of elections. All the MDC should do is insist on a strict
adherence to that protocol. There are issues to be addressed. The
whole infrastructure of violence must be dismantled including legislation
that gives it legitimacy. It is obvious there will be no new constitution
before the election. It is dishonest for the MDC to say otherwise.
The focus should therefore be on the electoral process. It is after
all the conduct of the election that will determine their character
more than the constitution.
It is naïve of the
MDC to believe it will have any contribution to make in the delimitation
exercise to determine constituency boundaries. These have already
been drawn and are securely locked up in a CIO vault to be released
at an appropriate time as the handiwork of the electoral supervisory
commission. The MDC must insist on being involved in the delimitation
There are other equally
important issues such as the Voters' Roll, and the eligibility of
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to determine the future of their country.
If the objective of the mediation process is, as Mbeki stated on
the onset, to create conditions for a free and fair election, all
Zimbabweans must be part of that process. The MDC must stand firm
on these issues and not succumb to the temptation of seeking parliamentary
seats for a few of its members while the country and its majority
are condemned to eternal squalor.
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