The gist of my article is that even an unlikely “Yes” vote in the forthcoming constitution referendum will not lead to the political demise of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and its leader Dr Lovemore Madhuku.
This is contrary to the myth in town that the NCA will be buried into political catacombs once its campaign for a “No” vote against the envisaged Copac draft is “defeated”by a five member gravy-axis of MDC-T, Zanu PF, MDC-M, Donors and other NGOs. In fact, I argue that a “Yes” vote will rather make the NCA even more pertinent in respect of Zimbabwe’s political milieu.
The ongoing campaign for a “Yes” vote for the Copac draft from members of the pro-democracy family is predicated on a caveat that it will serve as Zimbabwe’s transitional document from authoritarianism to a fat democracy.
In the contemporary, it may make sense, but this political fallacy will be put to test in next to no time at the next national election.
If the Copac constitution fails to provide a framework for the conduct of a free and just election hence reproducing a pseudo-democracy then the argument, like dew, will melt.
This will be exacerbated if the so called transitional document fails to enable the transfer of state power in the event of Zanu PF losing the next national election.
Once the transitional argument crumbles in the face of Zanu PF’s chicanery politics hinging on a subterfuge to steal the next national poll under a Copac defective constitution and establish a “constitutional” Zanu PF government then the nation will be in limbo.
The MDC-T’s promise that it will offer Zimbabweans a real chance to write a people- driven constitution once in government will automatically fall away.
All they would have left as a heritage is a defective constitution for Zimbabwe under difficult conditions to redress. Zimbabweans will then have to look back and look forward in search of a real roadmap.
Within the pro-democracy family someone will have to raise a voice from a moral high ground in pursuit of what will be an unfinished business of democratising Zimbabwe. Who will be that voice?
First, the NCA has since divorced and distanced itself from this five-wheel gravy-axis hence it will have the moral legitimacy to re-champion a new wave of not just constitutionalism but broader democratic reform.
Once the NCA position, which is built on founding principles of the democratic movement, stands the check of time, the people will indeed turn to the NCA for leadership in re-drawing the roadmap in a post election crisis.
Without real political change from the Copac constitution the NCA will be that leading voice with more relevance, authority and legitimacy in the eyes, hearts and minds of Zimbabweans.
It will be nigh impossible for any member of the gravy-axis to re-champion a new wave of constitutional reform as a plank to re-ignite the democratisation struggle because they will be having a chequered history.
Neither Sadc nor Zanu PF will pay attention to any of the five because the former argue that they are bringing finality and closure to Zimbabwe’s struggle for a new constitution, thank God, with the assistance of all five members of the gravy-axis.
From another angle, if the Copac constitution somehow creates minimalist conditions and the constitution becomes a critical enabler of state power transfer with the MDC- T forming a new government, the party will have to live by its word or face the sword from the generality of Zimbabweans.
The MDC T word from Mt Moriah is that once it takes state power in the next national election it will offer Zimbabweans a real chance to craft a real people-driven constitution because the Copac process in the words of MDC T has “failed the democracy and legitimacy test.”
Citizens will put pressure on MDC to put the NCA framework and principles at the epicentre of this new constitutional steer.
If the MDC-T government chooses to negate on its pledge to deliver a real people-driven constitution to Zimbabweans then it will compel the NCA to transform into a fully fledged political party that will become the major opposition post Zanu PF.
So in either scenario the NCA and Dr Lovemore Madhuku will be very much alive and in charge contrary to the legend of end times in the remote event of a “Yes” vote winning in the forthcoming referendum.
University of Oxford