The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has rejected the draft constitution document vowing to embark on a door to door campaign urging Zimbabweans to vote NO at the referendum and force elections to be conducted under the Lancaster House constitution.
The Professor Madhuku led organisation is objecting to the process of drafting the charter and its contents.
Speaking to Radio Dialogue, information officer of the NCA Blessing Vava said the process was not democratic as it excluded most Zimbabweans leaving the three political parties in Government to impose their own clauses in the draft.
However, the NCA is expected to have a tough battle in canvassing support for its position as ZANU PF and the two MDC formations have combined forces campaigning for the approval of the draft. Some civic organisations have also shown support for the draft saying although it is not ideal, it is a step towards democratisation of the country.
“Our campaign is not driven by selfish agendas, it is driven by the need for Zimbabweans to have a purely democratic people driven constitution where Zimbabweans have a say in the writing of that constitution not when politicians come with their constitution and they impose it on the people of Zimbabwe,” says Vava.
The NCA refused to be part of the constitution making process from the onset after the formation of the coalition government as it resisted political parties leading the process through a parliamentary select committee.
On the contents of the draft, Vava says some provisions perpetuate an all-powerful president who makes unilateral decisions.
The NCA points out section 204 of the constitution pertaining to the appointment of the ambassadors where it is the prerogative of the president to assign principal representatives of the country “and may, at any time, remove those persons from their posts.”
Although Vava also raises objections with “unilateralism” on section 205 pertaining to the appointment of permanent secretaries, the NCA overlooks that the president has to consult the Civil Service Commission in appointing the heads of ministries.
“Parliament has also been extended to 270 seats plus 80 senators that makes it 360 members of the House,” Vava said, “That is unacceptable for a country which is so small, where do we get the resources to fund activities for such a bloated parliament.”
Since the release of the final draft document the NCA has been the only civic society organisation that has taken a dissenting stand. Other civic coalition groups are yet to come out and declare their positions.
Commenting on the draft and the compromises made on it, Director of Bulawayo Agenda Thabani Nyoni said the draft document is a victory for the people of Zimbabwe.
“This draft constitution in spite of how Zimbabweans are going to vote for it, whether they are going to say yes or no, I see it as a triumph for the faction called the people of Zimbabwe, the attempts that are being made are made to change what the people of Zimbabwe said,” Nyoni said.
Human rights and development activist Dumisani Mpofu of Masakhaneni Trust told Radio Dialogue that the draft gives Zimbabwe a chance to change the structure of Government which would automatically change the governance culture.
“One of our problems in this country is the culture of doing things which is linked to the structure that was put in place after 1980 and this structure failed again the constitutional changes that happened in 1988 following the unity between ZAPU and ZANU.”
“Remember the constitution changed significantly in 1988 when we were adopting the executive President, unfortunately the structure of Government continued even after the executive President had been put in place and as a result that culture of doing things managed to outdo the changes in Government.”
NCA demands before the referendum:
- two months’ notice before the referendum for people to familiarise with the contents of the draft.
- ZEC should provide training to polling agents, that is, those who are campaigning for a Yes and a No Vote.
- ZEC should also announce the eligibility of voters, whether it’s going to be IDs or registration is going to used, should be published two months prior to the holding of the referendum.
- suspension of some provisions of the Public Order and Security Act during the times of campaigning.
- violent free campaign period.