HARARE – National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku (pictured)whose “No” vote campaign was severely crushed in the just-ended referendum has vowed to press on with the constitutional fight.
Tallies released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) reported 3 079 966 voted “Yes” while 179 489 backed the “No” vote.
A total of 56 627 votes were spoilt.
Yesterday the University of Zimbabwe professor of Public Law announced the NCA will remain in place to fight what he called an illegitimate constitution which is set to replace the archaic and amended Lancaster House charter.
“We have rejected in total the draft constitution. And we have rejected the “Yes” vote. The “Yes” vote does not mean Zimbabwe now has a democratic constitution. For that reason we are exactly where we were with the Lancaster House Constitution,” Madhuku told the Daily News exclusively.
“What has changed is we no longer have the Lancaster House Constitution, we will have a Copac or a GPA constitution which is the same thing. We will start our campaigns right away against the draft constitution.
“And that means our work has been quite unnecessarily made long. We were hoping by now we would have gone through the constitution-making process. Unfortunately because of what has happened we still have an undemocratic constitution.”
On March 16, Zimbabwe held a constitutional referendum to vote for or against a new constitution.
A new constitution was one of the conditions placed on President Robert Mugabe and his coalition partners by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) as the means to create a pathway to free and credible polls.
Mugabe is due to announce election dates anytime soon as the court ruling which compels him to do so looms.
He has said once the new constitution sails through Parliament, elections would be due — ruling out extending the life of the current Parliament which expires at the end of March.
However, constitutional experts say Mugabe’s term and that of Parliament run concurrently — meaning the August House’s life ends at the end of June when Mugabe’s expires.
Madhuku said the NCA, backed by students and labour movements, will step up its fight to puncture the new constitution by engaging both those who voted “Yes” and “No.”
“We could only have become a watchdog if they had been a democratic constitution adopted.
“There is no democratic constitution. Our target is a bit more difficult now. We will have to first explain to people why we are still calling for a new constitution despite the “Yes” vote.
And that will be something that we know people will accept. They know, many of them didn’t vote.
Seven-and-a-half million people were eligible to vote; more than half of those didn’t. I am sure most of the reasons would have been they didn’t agree.
Then out of those who voted the majority will confess to us that for sure we didn’t vote “Yes” because we accepted the content of the draft,” said the NCA chief.
“We are actually working on a programme that ensures a year after the installation of a new government the crusade for a new constitution would have picked the momentum and everyone would have thoroughly discredited the current new Constitution.”
Madhuku had hoped his long time ally Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai would support him in the quest to have a real democratic and people-driven constitution, a covenant they made before he joined the inclusive government.
Instead, the NCA had drip funding and little access to the media; conditions which Madhuku said were significant in scuppering his bid to reject the “Yes” vote.
“It is a very sickening sense that we get. We are very disappointed by what has happened. But we realise that Morgan Tsvangirai himself as a person is the one who is responsible for providing leadership to that movement. He has not provided leadership.
He has allowed the movement to completely copy what Zanu PF believes in. The basic belief of Zanu PF is people don’t matter — what matters is what the leadership thinks. That’s what they have decided to do.
“So we are very disappointed but that is their choice to have taken that route. We will work hard for the people not to follow the MDC,” said Madhuku.
He said Tsvangirai would rue his decision to consent to a political competition where the NCA was not given access to the media and State resources.
“The MDC has lost moral ground to complain about the same issues they presided over during the referendum. The MDC consented to that. That means those are the same conditions which will apply to them in an election. We don’t expect them, for all morality to start complaining.
I am sure those are the rules they want to operate in an election,” said Madhuku.
“We will hope they just go through an election now under the same conditions that they gave to us. And thereafter, we will have to be definitive. We don’t mind whoever wins the election. We now know that we have a dictatorship in place.
And the choice between the MDC and Zanu PF is a choice between two dictators. Because we have two dictators, we shouldn’t be really saying this dictator is more useful than the other.
These are just two dictators.
“Let the two dictators fight within a dictatorial environment and let’s get one we will then confront.”