THE Lovemore Madhuku-chaired National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) is broke after being abandoned by its traditional financial backers who have expressed confidence in the inclusive government’s constitution-making process.
Traditional donors, mainly Western governments, have withdrawn their support from the NCA and opting to put resources in the government process to be led by a 25-member parliamentary select committee.
The assembly is embarking on a rural campaign to raise money from “peasants” to fund its operations.
On Wednesday Madhuku admitted to the Zimbabwe Independent that his outfit was broke, but he was quick to say the assembly’s relentless campaign against the parliamentary-led constitution-crafting process would never be abandoned.
Â “It’s true that we are in a bad financial patch. Most of our traditional funders have pulled out and channelled resources to the parliamentary-led constitutional process, which we remain opposed to,” Madhuku said.
He said the NCA would soon launch an “aggressive rural campaign” to raise money from the peasants.
“They will sell their chickens and livestock to support our cause,” he claims.
Asked why he was so sure that the “peasants” would support his cause, Madhuku said: “The NCA was originally people-driven, bankrolled by our membership, but along the way donors came on board. Now the traditional donors have pulled out opting to support the government process.”
According to the assembly, its members are individual citizens regardless of political affiliation, race, creed, class or organisation.
Groups in the NCA include political parties, labour movements, students, youths and women’s groups, churches, business associations and human rights organisations.
Explaining further the NCA position, Madhuku said donor money has cycles and it was normal for organisations like his to experience financial problems.
“Contracts expire and the time lag before renewal is bad for NGOs,” said Madhuku.
The NCA, which has dubbed its campaign against the current constitution-making “Take Charge”, has vowed to oppose the Kariba draft crafted by politicians from the three main political parties who make up the inclusive government.
The NCA has already pointed out what it said were shortcomings in the current process and had, to some extent, made parliamentarians think long and hard about the use of the Kariba draft as the key reference document.
The Independent is reliably informed that the NCA was struggling to finance it operations such as paying salaries and rentals.
The NCA was founded in 1997 with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as its first chairman.
In its prime, the NCA spearheaded a successful campaign against a new constitution in February 2000, which gave President Robert Mugabe his first ever electoral defeat.
The four-month-old coalition government between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has embarked on a constitution-making process in line with the Global Political Agreement the parties signed last September.
The constitution-making provincial consultative meetings are expected to commence on Wednesday. A new supreme law is expected to be promulgated in 18 months.
An attempt to introduce a new constitution between 1999 and 2000 failed after the NCAÂ and other civil society groupings successfully campaigned against a government-sponsored draft.
Zimbabwe is currently governed under the 1979 constitution agreed at the Lancaster House talks in London which has been amended 19 times. Critics say the changes have helped to tighten President Mugabe and his Zanu PF party’s stranglehold on power.