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on trip to Southern Africa
April 07, 2013
My recent fact
finding mission to Zimbabwe and South Africa gave me impressions
on a number of contemporary issues besieging Zimbabwe. These issues
include the current political environment, the just ended constitutional
referendum, the land reform programme, the health and economic
well-being of the nation and Zimbabwe’s readiness, willingness
and ability to deliver a credible free and fair election. Whilst
I look forward to sharing with you more on my thoughts and experiences
in the days to come, this instalment focuses on the just ended constitutional
I had the opportunity
to witness the constitutional referendum. A day before the referendum,
in Mwenezi, Masvingo I got to talk to a young man in his mid-twenties
who informed me that he
and the wider community from where he came had
been ordered to vote ‘Yes’ by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) and that apart
from ZEC, they had seen no one else. He said he would not be voting
for something he was not sure of. These sentiments were echoed by
almost everyone I spoke to.
I was able to visit a
number of polling stations on the day of the referendum. Short queues
formed in the mid-morning and by the afternoon, hardly any were
left. In the following days, I was able to ask several households
on visit as to how many people had voted in the referendum and results
indicated widespread apathy. They stated that they couldn’t
vote for something that they were not privy to. Prior to the vote,
parts of the civil society that campaigned for the ‘NO’
vote had been deliberately targeted for arbitrary arrest and harassment
by police. However, both media and major political players applauded
the plebiscite as peaceful and a huge success. All parties including
the two MDCs claimed victory and dismissed the significance of the
the 20/03/2013 Herald newspaper, the draft
is now to be gazetted for 30 days, tabled before parliament
and then Senate as a constitutional bill to be voted for by two-thirds
majority in both houses before being sent for Presidential assent.
Once presidential assent is given, some provisions (who decide which
ones?) start working alongside the Lancaster house constitution.
The new constitution only replaces the old one after the inception
of a new government. Imagine, the upcoming elections will be held
under the OLD constitution!
Questions to be asked:
1) Who is ZEC and how
fit for purpose are they given the harmonised election around the
2) ZEC reported an unprecedented
high voter turnout, now being disputed by both civil society and
the MDC T, why would ZEC cook the figures and would this be an indicator
of things to come?
3) Does this tie in with
the 2012 census figures (constituency delimitation) which are still
to be made public Is it not surprising that all the three (four)
principals colluded to ignore the police harassment of those who
campaigned for the people’s right to know? And what lies in
store for them in the elections around the corner?
4) Will a new constitution
make the difference in Zimbabwe?
A new constitution under
the same old rulers, armed with the same repressive machinery (security,
judiciary, militia, police, etc) and worried still on the prospects
of being brought to book for human rights abuses and the plunder
of the nation’s resources, will not make a difference. For
me, the constitution project was a diversionary tactic by the 3
principals and a waste of time. It takes much more than a new constitution
to change Zimbabwe’s mind-set for the better! Whither (to
what place / into what state) Zimbabwe and its diaspora?
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