THE outcome of the constitution- making process is not what all Zimbabweans are singularly happy about. It was never going to be possible to craft a document that appeals to personal and individual interests of each of the 12 million Zimbabweans, yet it was necessary to produce a document that will take care of the interests of all Zimbabweans as a collective.
REPORT BY QHUBANI MOYO
Coming with a document that would take care of the interests of the collective was not going to be easy due to conflicting interests at ideological level of political parties involved, different interests of key stakeholders and most importantly, internal party conflicts and relations that defined how some of the people in the crafting process behaved.
It therefore required extreme craftsmanship and national resolve to produce a document that was ultimately signed by all the parties on July 18 2012. For some of us who were intimately involved in the process when in wee hours of that day the management committee members began the long but final journey of signing each page of the 164 page draft, it was a sweet long journey because it was signalling the end of a tumultuous three years and marking a very new beginning.
Finally, after the years of conflicts, disagreements and compromises, the drafting team had put aside their partisan and personal interests to pursue the national goals. This spirit of unwavering commitment to the nation was a sign of great patriotism that characterised the constitution-making process.
Even in deep disagreements and tough parallel positions, it was the spirit of nationalism that guided the team. Where there was an extreme disagreement, it was the spirit of patriotism that guided the team in resolving the disagreements. Simply put, the working relations of the team signalled an unwavering commitment to the nation and a clear appetite for producing a constitution that will undoubtedly transform the lives of our people for the best.
It is for this reason that some of us believe that despite the new challenges facing the nation, sooner than later, sobriety will prevail, especially among those who know the amount of commitment and sincerity that guided the work on the draft constitution. I have no doubt that even in the darkest hour of humanity, evil can never triumph against good.
What is desirable now is for the people of this country to go through the draft so that they get an intimate understanding of what is contained in it. It is our belief, as the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube, that if the citizens of this country get an uninterrupted opportunity to scrutinise the draft, they will be able to identify the good, the bad and the ugly in the document and make informed decisions about moving forward.
This is the unalienable right of the people of this country because no individual group can claim to be endowed with better thinking faculties than the people of Zimbabwe combined. This is not practically possible and anyone who thinks they are better thinkers than all the people of this country are fooling themselves because the collective wisdom of our people will ultimately prevail.
This is why the people of this country should get into the travelling gear in preparation for the stakeholders conference and ultimately a referendum. Both of these events are long overdue and the constitution-making process has to be put back on track by allowing the last two stages to come to fruition.
But what are the fears in our coalition partners — Zanu PF — that has caused them to work tirelessly to try and suffocate the document which they partially mothered?
First and foremost, it was always never the interest of Zanu PF hardliners to embrace any form of reforms and in all times that they have participated in the constitution-making process, they have done so because of extreme pressure from the democratic forces of this country.
It is therefore their view that any major reform in the form of the draft constitution, is a heavy loss to their party and the only way they can maintain self-preservation is by setting the process on fire, in preparation for the ultimate burning of the whole country through the Gukurahundi and June 2008 style.
This is a group that believes in the scorched earth policy and only believes in order out of chaos. It is this group that is bastardising the document and deliberately misinforming the nation on the contents, including such ridiculous claims that the draft promotes homosexuality when in fact it protects the sanctity of the institution of marriage of men to women and women to men.
Such blatant lies aimed at diversionary tactics by Zanu PF are a glaring sign of how much Zanu PF disrespects the people of this country.
Truths about the draft
The fundamental truth about the new draft constitution is that it provides the much-needed checks and balances in the exercise of state power. The tragedy with this country’s politics is that we have given out power to one individual with hope that they will exercise it responsibly but human nature is not like that. Remember the old but classic adage, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
So given a free reign and blank cheque in management of state affairs, human beings can be damn dangerous. It is thus important to put in place all the safeguards to protect both the leadership from possible gluttonous use of power and citizens from abuse by the leadership.
The Copac draft provides a healthy balance in the exercise of executive power between the President and Cabinet. It further provides for clearly defined separation of powers. The era of imperial presidents with all the powers is over and this constitution provides this much-needed balance. Most importantly, the draft provides for a defined term of office.
The new draft constitution provides a workable and a clear frame-work for redefinition of the social relations in our society. It provides the legalistic framework on the im-portant subject of gender equality, in particular how to uplift the status of women in decision-making without creating conflict and suspicion and undermining the important role played by their male counterparts.
It clearly provides for a future on how men and women can all be equally represented in the governance architecture of the country, so that they are collectively able to assist each other in the running of state affairs.
The new draft constitution pro-vides for devolution of power which addresses the issues of equitable distribution of power, resources and national opportunities. The issue of concentration of power on one individual and deliberate margina-lisation of other regions has been a cause of disunity in the country.
The only way of addressing the explosive national malaise is to empower the local communities to run their affairs, in particular what development priorities they want.
This constitution, through the creation of the provincial councils and provision of appointment of a governor from a party with a majority in the region, provides for local communities to have a say in running of the state. This addresses the problem of some regions which for many years have been thrown out of having a bite from the national cake.
The issue of promotion and recognition of all Zimbabwe’s languages as national official languages given the same status is a positive state in the right direction. For years some languages, cultures and customs have been subject to systematic domination and annihilation.
Some communities have been looked down upon because of the undermining of their languages, culture and customs. The definition of some languages as official and some as peripheral have created discrimination on the basis of language and led to marginalisation of some Zimbabwean nationals. The new constitution thus fosters the spirit of nationalism by recognising the diversity of the people of this country by placing equal importance on all our languages and cultures.
There are so many clauses that make this constitution better than any other that has been crafted before in the country. It is a perfect document for moving Zimbabwe to new heights and as such deserves the support of all the citizens.
As a party we remain resolutely clear that there should be no altering of any clause, paragraph, comma or full stop in this constitutional draft. Any changes will distort everything. For now, there is need for work to start towards the all stakeholder’s conference and referendum. The Copac draft is the only game in town and there is no alternative to it!