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New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
complexities of Zimbabwe’s constitution referendum
March 12, 2013
As the curtain
comes down on the COPAC’s constitution
making process it is necessary to make a reflection on the process,
context and outcome of the document
notwithstanding how my beloved Zimbabweans have been deceived and
seduced by COPAC’s propaganda onslaught glorifying its ill-fated
attempt at constitution making as a people driven, inclusive and
democratic. The propaganda has gone to the extent of reporting falsehoods
of overwhelming success of COPAC’s outreach programme claiming
that the attendance in their meetings is a reflection of overwhelming
public support to the draft which has been tabled for a referendum
on the 16th of March 2013.
Judging by the
low attendance in their awareness/campaign meetings with attendance
ranging from 1-60 persons it is absurd that Douglas Mwonzora can
suggest that the people of Zimbabwe have overwhelmingly supported
COPAC’s draft lying thus: “we are happy with the responses
we got; most of the meetings were well attended." Twenty people
and a few hundreds cannot be equated as anything near overwhelming
support in a population of 12 573 000 citizens. Such void claims
are being made to legitimise this fraudulent process. The truth
of the matter is that ZANU PF and its allies in government, the
two MDCs under the banner of COPAC are hoodwinking Zimbabweans to
vote for their draft.
however is the arrival of the SADC Observer mission Hon Bernard
Kamillius Membe, representative of the Chairperson of SADC Organ
on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation who jetted in the
country, yesterday, exactly 5 days before the holding of the referendum.
Rather disturbing are the observer mission’s ill-informed
statements which the people of Zimbabwe should dismiss. In a statement,
head of the of team Hon Membe said: "This Constitutional referendum
scheduled for the 16 March 2013 clearly demonstrates movement from
signed declarations into tangible results to the benefit of the
Zimbabwean citizens. Furthermore, the referendum will ensure the
inclusion of the political stakeholders indicating a major milestone
towards the realisation of a stable political environment,"
says the Hon Minister. From his remarks, the Hon Minister already
is suggesting to the people of Zimbabwe, that, the ‘draft’
signals democratic progression with results that will benefit Zimbabweans
and that it will ensure good governance through the inclusion of
This he says,
ignorant to the fact that it is the same SADC that facilitated a
sharing deal that accommodated election
losers who had been retired by the people of Zimbabwe on 29
March 2008. The shortfalls of the GPA created this constitution
reform framework, a framework which relegated the people of Zimbabwe
to spectators, whilst politicians drive the process. Needless to
say, national progress is stalled at 2009, the basic livelihoods
of Zimbabweans have not improved.
All the reforms
which we clamoured for were inadequate; in short it was just lipstick
being applied to a frog and packaging old wine in new bottles. The
legacy of the inclusive government was about unprincipled compromises
and the bellies of the politicians while entrenching poverty among
the population. The GPA failed to deal with the socio-economic issues
affecting the people of Zimbabwe.
SADC told us,
that it was a transitional framework directed at leading the nation
towards sustainable democracy manifesting in periodic free and fair
elections. Questions arise whether SADC is really concerned about
the welfare and rights of the people of Zimbabwe or rather they
are concerned about being credited for solving Zimbabwe’s
political crisis. Needless to say that there is an inherent failure,
deliberate or error of omission, on the part of SADC to understand
and stress the importance of economics in power brokering which
in the first instance was the most significant indicator of a failed
state. They gave us the GPA, which proved to be a disaster, with
all the parties alluding to the fact that it was an unworkable arrangement
and now they are papering their baby by glorifying a sham process.
Of course it’s clear that their mission here is to endorse
this fraudulent Kariba daft,
oh I mean ‘draft.’ It’s no longer a secret that
there is a significant percentage of the population that is campaigning
for a NO vote. A reality which the observer team conveniently ignores.
Their mission here cannot be impossible, it evidently exhibited
from their irresponsible statements that to them it will be a mission
possible in Zimbabwe, they are confident and are ready for a YES
the statements they released today, suggest the pre-judgement by
SADC that the environment under which this referendum is being conducted
is free and fair. Even some statements attributed to the observer
team quoted on local radio stations urging the people of Zimbabwe
to vote for the draft constitution must be condemned with contempt.
The purpose of the Observer team is not to campaign for a certain
position but the mission’s mandate is to conduct a comprehensive
assessment of the electoral process and to observe the extent to
which the referendum complies with international standards for elections,
as well as domestic law. So their pre-judging upon arrival statements
that the conditions existing favour a credible outcome are immature,
biased and regrettable. For God’s sake their first port of
call was the Rainbow Hotel whereupon they issue irresponsible statements.
The most obvious issues or anomalies in this referendum are that:
- The COPAC
process left out other political parties and civil society formations,
making the product wholly ZANU PF/MDCT affair.
- The state
media and some private media houses have ganged up to shut space
for the NCA and other organisations and individuals which are
opposing the draft. This is despite the clear violation of the
SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections
which state access to equal media access as a key yardstick to
free and fair electoral processes.
- COPAC is
playing the referee and player at the same time. After writing
the draft, logic was that they should not have participated in
the awareness campaigns which, instead of educating people about
what is in the draft they ended up picking some supposed-good
sections to entice the public to vote for the draft: a clear case
of canvassing for votes.
- With barely
4 days before the conduct of the referendum, three quarters of
the voting population have not received the draft, COPAC only
availed 90 000 with a paltry 20 000 being in vernacular. The courts
reluctantly attend to the NCA
court case seeking an extension of date to allow Zimbabweans to
be given enough the copies and enough the time to decide on the
- there is
no justification in printing 12 million ballot papers with a country
with a voting population of about 7 million
- The barring
of international observers is an indication that Zimbabwe’s
electoral processes are yet to be reformed.
- The state
has unleashed the police to harass and intimidate civil society
organisations confiscating radios which they claim are weapons
of espionage and a threat to national security.
- The barring
of polling agents of groups campaigning for a no vote, opens the
process to rigging and manipulation
- The person
running the referendum (Joyce Kazembe) is not qualified according
to the current constitution and the laws governing elections and
referendums. It casts doubt over the credibility of the Saturday
All these factors
cannot be ignored; the same will happen during the election period
and the same SADC will come again and endorse an election conducted
under these conditions. It is my sincere hope that the SADC observer
team will meet all the stakeholders (NCA) and hear their side of
the story and stop making biased and ill-informed statements about
the situation on the ground. We know what we want as the people
of Zimbabwe, SADC must not determine the course, it role should
be to be the guardian.
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