Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Thursday, February 7th, 2013
It is disturbing that Zimbabwe’s Parliament “adopted and approved” that ridiculous Draft Constitution. But why am I not surprised? They don’t even know what it is.
I cannot believe that in the whole parliament there were not several dissenting voices to trumpet the regression that this silly document invites.
Not long ago, the MDC-T was making a lot of noise demanding a new “people driven Constitution” but after dipping their toes in the power basin, they negotiated a constitution that set them and their ZANU-PF colleagues free while keeping the people of Zimbabwe in chains.
This constitution is not for the ordinary Zimbabweans.
Just after concluding the crafting of the damned document, all the parties were letting it be known that they will amend the Constitution as soon as they get elected into power.
Now, what kind of Constitution is that? Why do we need a temporary constitution; we are a permanent society. Why do they accept things they do not want and yet are campaigning for us to vote for the constitution, which they promise to amend on ascension to power?
The Constitution of the United States was adopted on September 17, 1787 and went into effect on March 4, 1789. In more than 200 years, between September 25, 1789 when the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was proposed to protect freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, as well as the right to assemble and petition the government, and May 7th, 1992 when the 27th Amendment was enacted, their Constitution was amended only twenty-seven times.
Yet in just 30 years of the existence of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (1979) until February 2009 when Constitution Number 19 was gazetted, we had panel beaten our constitution 19 times!
And here we have a group of goons from across the political divide who are already promising to amend a constitution which they are forcing down our throats. Do our people understand the importance of a constitution and what is means or what it is?
A constitution does not emanate from a group of select people, it emanates from the people of the land as they put down a binding willingness to be ruled and governed by laws they make for themselves and for their people.
Those who wrote it, ZANU-PF, and the two MDC formations, continue to fight over the draft although they are united that however some portions of it irritate them, they will all campaign for a ‘yes’ vote.
Something is not kosher right there!
Lovemore Madhuku and his National Constitutional Assembly appear to be the sole voice in opposition to this Constitution and those who oppose the NCA’s position say that “while the draft is not perfect it is much better than the existing Lancaster House constitution”.
This is very silly and shows how shallow some people are and how little they understand the purpose and need for a constitution.
We do not write a constitution so as to amend it; we write a constitution to guide us over generations and amending such a document should be a laborious exercise, not something that can be done as a reaction to what some dictator wakes up thinking one morning.
Some of the three political parties that took part in the drafting of the constitution did not even have a right to represent anyone on such a panel which was meant to guide the nation, not political parties or individuals.
In the end, those who wrote the constitution were looking at their positions in both government and party, they were looking to safeguard and please certain individuals at the expense of the nation.
They wrote the Constitution with themselves and their friends in mind not putting the interests of the nation first.
We do not want a Constitution that “is better than the Lancaster House Constitution”; we want a decent “people driven” constitution unique to Zimbabwe and comparisons to the Lancaster House document should not be used as a yardstick of it being good or bad. Surely, we are good enough to be original!
Those who support this wretched document say that there are improvements in the draft constitution, “but the good has been mixed with some bad points”.
If we accept that something is bad, why don’t we hammer it straight before inserting it into our constitution? They say that the forthcoming referendum gives the country “an opportunity to end the long search for reforms”.
That is hogwash. Reforms could have been initiated with or without any constitution which they failed to do. Was the Lancaster document not clear on law and order? On property and human rights? On education? Industry, agriculture, trade and all other issues surrounding us?
Did they need a constitution to introduce POSA and AIPPA, for those laws were reforms too, albeit negative and evil ones?
The heart of the matter is that these three political parties are misleading the people and the nation. This draft constitution is not good at all and all those emotive issues must be revisited and thrown to the people, who, actually, ought to be the architects of the Constitution, not Douglas Mwonzora, Paul Mangwana and all those hungry hangers on who spent more than $45 million dollars to come up with such a dreadful draft that we, as decent people, can’t use.
Why can’t we expect and get the constitution we deserve; a constitution we want? It is our constitution that is supposed to come from us.
The fact that these people, who hardly agree on anything, including the draft constitution itself, are agreeing to have it passed must send alarm bells to Zimbabweans. They short-changed us and we are going to pay heavily for this constitution because they are going to use it against us.
As expected, with an eye on the money, Mangwana said democracy did not come cheaply.
“Some people will say why the $45 million, but I will say democracy is very expensive,” he said. “It has never come cheap. Some have actually died for it. But I am happy that we have spent the money for a good cause. We have delivered the constitution.”
The man is, of course, full of things that even a plumber won’t touch!
What constitution have they delivered? Does it protect the people or those who crafted it? Why did Mangwana’s party and army have to kill people who just wanted to give their input towards the new Constitution?
Since the final draft does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people, whose ideas are in that temporary document?
Mangwana even had the gall to accuse the media “of fabricating divisions within Copac and misrepresenting delicate information”.
First, the media did no such thing but whenever politicians’ shortcomings hit the public domain, we know who is to be blamed.
Secondly, what kind of constitution contains “delicate information”? Are we talking about a country’s Constitution, a public document that should be translated into as many languages as there are in Zimbabwe so that everyone and anyone who wants it can have it? Our Constitution has delicate information that should not be known by the people?
Zimbabwe deserves a better constitution than this rubbish that our politically defective parliamentarians accepted and adopted. We remember so well how people were manhandled and prevented from giving their input; we know quite well that some political parties represented no one except themselves and their spouses; we are aware that any Constitution that is negotiated is meant to appease someone other than the people.
“A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is. When these principles are written down into a single collection or set of legal documents, those documents may be said to comprise a written constitution.”
Can you tell me if this is what we have before us right now in Zimbabwe?
The Constitution of the United States has something we should have borrowed. Remember the line that goes: “Congress shall make no law…” A law that prevents lawmakers from making laws! Now, that is what I call a constitution!
As for Mangwana, Mwonzora and their gang, please, take this draft constitution of yours and shove it; I am voting no!
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, February 7th, 2013.
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