Politicians are not the people


The word people is close to the hearts of many politicians. The people, the politicians claim, are at the centre of activities of the state at various levels of governance. But in many instances the word is abused to achieve political ends. And when this happens it is the people who are at the receiving end.
The current outreach programme of the constitution-making process has clearly exposed the abuse of the people by politicians whose narrow agendas are masked behind the quest to create a people-driven constitution.
There is nothing people-driven about the current process of gathering information from the public. Reports so far from many parts of the country say that at meetings people are reading from prepared scripts.
These scripts are authored by Zanu PF politicians using the Kariba Draft as a base. Villagers who have not seen the draft are being given morsels from the big document which they have to regurgitate at public meetings in a farcical display of expressing their opinions.
It is not surprising that those being given the duty to speak from the set scripts do not even know what they are talking about. They are merely parroting the standpoint of their dear leader who has over the years morphed from a mere mortal to become ‘the people’.
At meetings everyone is obliged to speak like ‘the people’. Straying from the written script is betraying the will of ‘the people’. The ultimate goal of this whole project is that the issue of the Constitution has been trivialised to appear as if it is about fighting the British, the Americans and gays.
The issue of fundamental rights has been subjugated. It’s not on the agenda. It is deplorable to say the least that village heads are reportedly threatening peasants who want the title deeds to their properties.
Non-governmental organisations and pressure groups monitoring the process have reported that there is intimidation on the ground to ensure that citizens speak like ‘the people’.
There are unconfirmed reports that security agents have been roped in to cow dissent. To counter this Zanu PF stratagem, the MDC, which is also pushing its own project in the constitution, is responding with its own form of campaign to ensure ‘the people’ are thwarted. It’s no longer about a people-driven constitution but power politics, in which citizens are used as cannon fodder.
This is a disturbing trend that has come to represent the nature of politics in this country. It is about personalities purporting to be embodiments of the common good.
We have already experienced the power of ‘the people’ in subverting the common good. The elections in 2008 are a case in point. The loser of the people has continued to hang onto power. That the people of Zimbabwe spoke loudly in the polls is not an issue.
But President Mugabe and his lieutenants are no longer the people.
In our endeavour as a nation to craft a people-driven constitution, we need to guard our future from dictates of a discredited past. We are the people and we must speak for the common good.