If you are exasperated and disheartened by the fists of fury between the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the Constitutional Parliamentary Committe (Copac), you are not alone in the toxic cloud of dust.
Many people who resent the subject of politics, to the point of despising it, would be confused as to why two seemingly “legitimate” Zimbabwean institutions purporting to have good intentions are rattling sabres at each other.
I have a friend who is exceptionally analytical, who always will preface his critique with the phrase: “I’m not a politician, but . . .” then goes into a tirade of top-shelf political intelligence.
The question being: where do we Zimbabweans draw the line between “politics” and “real life”?
Do you know that even in the shadowy world of international arms deals, the line is pretty thin?
The Mail & Guardian talks of a company co-owned by Willem Ehlers, a close aide to notorious apartheid President PW Botha who helped Iran evade American sanctions by sneaking a spy-style ultra-sleek Bradstone Challenger torpedo and missile-capable speedboat, through South Africa.
There are two perspectives to such a story.
You could look at it and curse Ehlers, lump him with the rest of political schemers who deserve nothing less than burning in hell.
Or you could, as I always would, put a comic angle to it: get some Zanu PF Chiadzwa “mogul” to hijack the Bradstone Challenger and chase around MDC supporters off-floating mobile polling Mexico gulf-type rigs on Lake Kariba in 2011.
Alternatively, just maybe Mr Ehlers might confirm that some of these high-speed boats come in “ground attack” versions that Bowder Gees would like to use at UMP, considering that ballot box stuffing will be a speedy business given the short period required to publish election results.
There is, however, a unique detail in this complicated NCA/Copac/Ehlers high-speed, Robert Ludlum-inspired conspiracy: the Bradstone Challenger is not people-driven.
Mind you, pilotless drones have caused so much havoc in Kandahar.
Civilian casualties tend to be high when encounters are not “people-driven”, like at Mai Musodzi Hall.
Professor Karl Deutsch, in his book, Politics and Government: How People Decide their Fate, defines “people” as an (ethnic) “group of persons who share complementary habits of communication. . . share the same language and always share similar culture, so that members of the group attach the same meanings to words”.
So Lovemore Madhuku is right: Copac meetings tend to attract the not-so bright.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure does not agree: “. . . But not quite. In principle, it is desirable, but improbable to have a ‘people-driven’ constitution.”
In practice, this normative stance has never been and most likely will never be.
Constitutions everywhere and throughout history have seldom been and most likely will never be mass-driven outcomes; they have been and will remain elite-propelled processes and elite-driven outcomes.
The masses are often roped into the process to lend popular legitimacy to both the process and the outcome.
This is the brutal reality in the practical world of politics.
Now this is bad news for me. And I thought I was clever.
By this stage you must be confused who really the people are and what drives them.
Wikipedia says American historian Richard B Morris, in his 1973 book, Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries, identified the following seven figures as the key founding fathers: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.
But Wikipedia still cautions: “Most historians define the ‘founding fathers’ to mean a larger group, including not only the signers and the framers, but also all those who, whether as politicians or jurists or statesmen or soldiers or diplomats or ordinary citizens, took part in winning American independence and creating the United States of America.”
Who said the US has the best democratic “people-driven” constitution in the world?
It could not have been people-driven since Elbridge Gerry, George Mason and Edmund Randolph refused to sign, with the other 13 having left without subscribing. What a scandal!
David Boaz (The Libertarian Reader) quotes political theorist John C Calhoun: “A written constitution certainly has many and considerable advantages, but it is a great mistake to suppose that the mere insertion of provisions to restrict and limit the powers of government, without investing those for whose protection they are inserted with the means of enforcing their observance, will be sufficient to prevent the major and dominant party from abusing its powers.”
Boaz continues: “There is nothing sacrosanct about the majority; the lynch mob, too, is the majority in its own domain.”
And did you know that the Brits, the same culprits who gave us a constitution that now has 19 stitches, do not actually have a written constitution of their own?
I mean guys, let’s be honest: how come Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe allowed someone who doesn’t have taste buds to cook their ox hooves at Lancaster House? So much for political “wisdom”.
But seriously, consider these daunting statistics: Zimbabwe’s population is just over 13 million, right?
If seven million of these “people” are actually “children”, the “real” people are about six million.
Wait for this: if four million of these are now in South Africa, England, North America and Australia, that leaves ONLY two million of you and me in Zimbabwe.
Here’s the IED (inexpensive explosive device): Tobaiwa Mudede (registrar-general) says there are four million of us (dead and alive) on his voters’ roll (mind you, four million are already in the Diaspora).
So if Copac teams say they have spoken to 700 000 willing and unwilling “people”, will anyone who never participated in the struggle for political liberation please stand up!
I love politics, the art of making impossible things look possible.
l Rejoice Ngwenya is a social commentator