By Nomalanga Moyo
20 March 2013
The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) on Wednesday rejected the results of Saturday’s referendum saying the ‘yes vote’ did not mean that Zimbabweans were endorsing the new constitution.
In a statement, the group said it did not believe that by voting ‘yes’ Zimbabweans were accepting the draft constitution.
Part of the statement said: “We reject in toto the notion that Zimbabweans have spoken and have accepted the Draft Constitution. We hold that the “Yes” vote is illegitimate. The referendum result is therefore illegitimate and not acceptable to us.”
The NCA argued that: “95% of those who voted yes neither saw nor read the draft constitution, 95% of the “Yes” voters knew nothing about the contents of the Draft Constitution. The yes voters, by their own admission, said they were voting yes because they were following orders from political leaders to do so.”
The group also argues that those who voted yes were misled by politicians as such, “the draft constitution will remain undemocratic and unacceptable when it becomes the constitution of Zimbabwe.”
Speaking at a press conference before issuing the statement, the group’s chairperson Lovemore Madhuku, mentioned the limited publicity material and resources available for the referendum, and what he described as hate speech by the Prime Minister, as some of the reasons why the process was undemocratic and not credible.
Zimbabwe’s constitution-making process was led by the three political parties in the coalition government, will all the parties encouraging their supporters to vote in favour of the draft.
The NCA said this deprived the people of Zimbabwe from making an informed and independent decision on the process, and simply ensured that people did what they were told to do.
The group said coverage of the referendum campaign was one-sided, with the ‘No’ campaigners being denied access to the public media, a situation which meant voters were blocked from hearing both sides of the argument.
“Where voters are prevented by self-serving politicians from accessing alternative views, a “Yes” is invalid”, the statement further states.
The group revealed that it will now be concentrating on its crusade for a new, democratic and people-driven constitution by intensifying “its efforts for a rejection of the so-called new Constitution just as it has campaigned for the rejection of the Lancaster House Constitution.”
The NCA press conference was also attended by MDC 99 president Job Sikhala, Munyaradzi Gwisai of the International Socialist Organisation, as well as Raymond Majongwe, who were part of the ‘No’ campaign.
Sikhala thanked the 179,000 Zimbabweans who rejected the draft constitution despite the lack of resources for the ‘No’ campaigners, while Gwisai said the process revealed “an unprecedented unity of the ruling class” rather than a free and fair referendum.