By Nomalanga Moyo
12 March 2012
The head of the National Constitutional Assembly says he is confident that his group will receive a favourable ruling from the Supreme Court on Wednesday as they fight to have the referendum date postponed.
The constitutional body is campaigning for a ‘no’ vote in the March 16th referendum and is appealing a High Court ruling dismissing their application.
The NCA had approached the High Court contesting President Robert Mugabe’s decision to set the referendum date for March 16th, arguing that it was too soon and denied citizens time to study the draft constitution.
However Judge President George Chiweshe ruled against the NCA, and concluded that the courts could not review a decision made by the president, leading to an appeal by the NCA at the superior court.
Madhuku said he is “almost certain” that the Supreme Court will agree with the NCA position, arguing that citizens have a legal right to challenge the president.
He said: “Our legal basis is founded on the constitution itself. You cannot have a head of government who makes a decision that affects the rights of the people and cannot take them to court.”
Explaining why he is also spearheading a vote No campaign, Madhuku said the constitutional draft is a bad draft, which will give Zimbabwe a bad constitution.
“This is also about rejecting the flawed process whereby politicians sit and negotiate what should go into a constitution, have their compromises based on their political interests and pass that as a constitution for the whole country,” he said.
The NCA leader also took a swipe at the SADC observer team’s remarks that the referendum signals “progress from signed declarations to tangible results” for Zimbabweans.
“For us as Zimbabweans progress is when there have been changes to the way we are governed. This referendum is an imposition of a document done by politicians who are asking people to vote yes to something they have not read or even written.
“The observer team has not even bothered to meet all the groups, and yet they are already making such pronouncements,” Madhuku said.
Madhuku lamented the near-blackout by the media on groups campaigning for the no vote, a situation he said did not point to a fair and democratic process.
Turning to the two MDC formations, the NCA chief said pushing people to say yes to a ‘flawed document’ shows that the two parties were “no longer interested in changing the framework under which the people existed.”
He repeated his statements to journalists at a workshop Monday that the current draft does little to clip the excessive presidential powers currently being enjoyed by President Mugabe under the Lancaster House Constitution.
“In the draft constitution the President is not compelled to appear before Parliament and answer questions. He has no limit on the number of ministers he should appoint and he still has a lot of influence in appointing commissioners, ambassadors, security chiefs, the Attorney-General and has the final say over appointment of judges.”
Meanwhile, in a move that will be seen as lending credence to the NCA case, Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga said he too had reservations about holding the referendum this Saturday.
Matinenga indicated that villagers in Lupane, Hwange and Binga had raised concerns about the time frame.
“I personally feel it is a huge task for the people to be conscientised and to understand the draft within the allocated time.
“However let’s make the best of the worst situation by voting “Yes” for the draft,” Matinenga told SW Radio Africa.