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the real people please stand
July 06, 2011
There are several
things that National
Constitutional Assembly-s Lovemore Madhuku and Paul Mangwana
of COPAC inadvertently share. Both men are chairpersons of constitutional
research bodies, driven by a passion for constitutional law. They
also have a sinister obsession with the phrase 'people-driven-,
albeit for different reasons. Their egos seem to thrive on incessant
front page appearances. In the quest to outdo each other for attention,
the two lawmen insist that the current constitutional process is
either people-driven [Mangwana] or not people-driven [Madhuku].
That leaves me and you, mere mortals, in a state of semantic quandary
as to which people these learned men are grappling about. As with
literary tradition, I turn to Wikipedia that describes people as
'a plurality of human beings or other beings possessing enough
qualities constituting personhood.-
is that one of these 'qualities- referred to above is
the ability to think or reason independently. But because constitutionalism
is fought in the realm of politics, I would assume Madhuku is more
comfortable with 'civil- people than the 'political-
people that Mangwana is accustomed to dealing with. If one probes
further, Madhuku is convinced that Mangwana-s 'people-
are prone to manipulation, since they are selected on partisan preferences,
hence, in his view, the 'illegitimacy- of the COPAC
process. Mangwana on the other hand will argue that because all
people have a degree of intelligence, it is inconceivable that one
can manipulate [all of] them, thus the legitimacy of the COPAC process.
As far as these two learned lawyers are concerned, the 'COPAC
referendum- will be a battleground to determine which 'people-
really matter in defining the destiny of Zimbabwe. For me, I would
like to raise the argument on who the 'real- people
are and why long before the bi-polar plebiscite.
Let me start
off with the marital institution I am familiar with - mine.
I have four children - all boys - who I call 'mine-,
for genetic and legal reasons. However, my 'possession-
is limited, if not situational because when the two boys are in
a kombi, the driver calls them 'my passengers-. At school,
they are labelled 'my students- by their teacher while
our pastor refers to them as 'my church members-. In
other words, 'personhood- is situational. My point is
that both Madhuku and Mangwana are in fact talking about the same
people, the difference being these humans assume certain qualities
in different scenarios.
During the COPAC
outreach, I met many 'people- who enjoy simultaneously
multiple membership in NGO youth groups, the NCA, their professions,
Movement for Democratic Change [MDC], ZANU-PF and several other
social groupings. Some attended my meetings while other abstained
because they said to me "we do not trust the other 'people-
who are at your meetings". Nonetheless, at any one time, even
a typical NCA member assumes 'dual personhood- that
can be civil, professional or for that matter political.
rational argument is two-fold: first, 'political people-
like Mangwana cannot preside over a constitutional reform process
without resisting the temptation to 'unfairly influence-
popular opinion. Second, he argues COPAC audience was 'people-,
but attended either under duress, or some stayed away in fear of
what Mangwana-s 'political people- would do to
them before, during and after these meetings. Therefore the Madhuku
conclusion is that even if it is 'people- that drive
the COPAC process, they are not from the 'right civic category-
in order to legitimise the process.
position is predictably different, if not outright divergent. He
argues that every, or at least most 'people- came to
the meetings voluntarily. His party, ZANU-PF, invested time and
energy to 'explain- to these people what to expect and
how to respond because in a democracy, one is allowed to teach 'one-s
people- what is good for them. This means that he is saying
to Madhuku: "It would have been better to [also] teach 'your
people- what was good for them rather than saying: "don-t
go there because you will meet the wrong Mangwana people".
is therefore tinged with Biblical annotation. There is none but
God who can designate people as 'the right people- or
'the wrong people-. Those who stayed out of the COPAC
process exercised their intelligent choice, while those that participated
[either voluntarily or otherwise] had an opportunity to refuse.
Whether you are NCA, ZANU-PF, MDC or 'civil-, you are
the 'right person- because of your citizenship. If you
feel you were 'excluded- from the COPAC process, you
will have an opportunity to 'participate- in the referendum.
That makes you important to me. Thus, in the final analysis, it
will be interesting to see which 'people- will have
the last laugh - Madhuku-s 'civil people-
or Mangwana-s 'political people-. Either way,
it is the people that will speak!
Wednesday may be your Extreme Opinion too!
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