On New Constitution, Zanu PF should not take people for granted

Finally, after enduring a total of 35 hours of debate spread over three weeks, the people of Zimbabwe finally got ZANU PF politburo's verdict on the draft constitution. The party rejected the 150 page draft constitution on the basis that it did not reflect the views of the people as expressed in the constitutional outreach. According to Rugare Gumbo, the party Spokesperson, ZANU PF could not accept the draft constitution without amendments to several clauses which include the diluted authority of traditional leaders, the role of the parliament in the deployment of the troops both inside and outside, the appointment of the governors previously the prerogative of the president and the issue of dual citizenship among others. As a way forward, ZANU PF proposed to work on the amendments through the heroes' holiday and make submissions to the principals thereafter. This very much sounds like the old ZANU PF that always evokes and perpetuates a deep sense of victimhood and siege mentality to maintain to continue blocking any democratic progress.

For political party that has consistently and violently subverted the will of the people through successive electoral frauds since independence, this is a rhetoric we can't afford to buy. In fact, it does not sell at all. It is true that the constitutional draft does not reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe. In fact, a number of provisions belong to the three political parties including ZANU PF. Moreover, the constitution making process which was meant to take only 18 months has dragged on for three years! The cost in terms of millions of US dollars and waning public confidence has been a benefit to ZANU PF. In all this, ZANU PF has intimidated, misinformed, coached, abused, disrupted and even beat up people as a way of ensuring that its wishes are reproduced in the current reform processes, including the constitutional draft. Certainly the people of Zimbabwe know and appreciate the fact that this second draft has had to be produced against the spirited resistance from ZANU   PF hard liners who fought with the process right from the first All-Stakeholder's Conference.

Supporting the second draft should be seen in the context of defending what the people of Zimbabwe have gained since March 2008. Paying attention to the content of the draft in terms of what was expected and what we got is very important. But it is more important that our achievements, little as they may be, be appreciated within the heavily contested and toxic political terrain. It is fair expectation to demand that the constitution of Zimbabwe should entirely reflect the will, expression and aspiration of the people of Zimbabwe.

After all, these are the people that will also pass or fail this document in the constitutional referendum that should be held later on this year. This is the hall mark of creating a culture of constitutionalism based on the simple democratic principle that people are likely to defend and support what they know and where involved in building. But to entirely focus on what is not in the draft constitution   rather than what is there may fall well into Zanu PF strategy and tactics of taking us back to a per-2008 scenario of fighting the battle on ZANU PF's terms (Lancaster House Constitution).   Already, ZANU PF's Jonathan Moyo is trying to create legitimacy for the further watering down of the provisions   that the draft constitution or even setting aside the constitution making process    by alleging that it is political pamphlet, and an MDC's election winning strategy.

To   all those within ZANU PF that have perfected the habit of taking the people for granted, I will share from the sentiments similar to what Malcom X said when addressing racism in America, "we are not going to delude ourselves by sitting at the table,   watch you eat and then consider ourselves as part of the dinner."

By Tabani Nyoni

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