The wrangling among political parties in the inclusive government over the draft constitution is ominous to say the least. It is a sure sign that either the resultant constitution is forced on the people or that the people might be coerced to reject it.
The charade of a people-driven constitution has now been replaced by the reality that political parties want a tailor-made constitution to suit their parochial agendas.
The result of all this is a constitution that reflects the will of political parties, particularly the dominant one(s). This is contrary to the ideal that the constitution should reflect the ideals, values and aspiration of Zimbabweans and not those of a few bigoted politicians.
What our politicians are showing is their misguided notion that the power to govern automatically translates into the power to make a constitution and with it the destiny of the whole nation.
But a constitution should not be just a set of values and principles to safeguard the narrow interests of political parties. It should embrace a national vision for the future, prescribing legitimacy upon which State power is to be used.
While the constitution must prevent anarchy and dictatorship, it is a pity that political parties such as Zanu PF want to promote dictatorial powers that know no legal bounds through the constitution.
Although a constitution in itself does not guarantee peace and good governance, it should at the least establish checks and balances within the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
The bulk of this country’s problems stems from the fact that there are no proper checks and balances in the arms of government. The result has been disastrous. We have witnessed selective application of the law, corruption, unethical behaviour by security chiefs and wanton abuse of human rights, among other things.
Contrary to selfish motives by political parties, the constitution must be a conduit for democracy. It should provide us with peaceful means to deal with conflicts and, above all, it should provide a clear-cut framework for a peaceful change in leadership.
It is imperative therefore that a good constitution stands the test of time and this can only be realised if it espouses national values and interests. It is only under such circumstances that the constitution will have buy-in from the majority.
It goes without saying that the current process is being hijacked by political hawks who have not openly exhibited their affront to democratic norms.
We are destined to have a constitution that people will not identify with. It will therefore suffer disrespect from the people and by implication, the political parties behind it. Therefore, it goes without saying that political parties involved in the constitution-making process should put people’s values and aspirations at the forefront. After all, they know what people want because they collected their views.
Political leaders should know better that taking people for granted is risky. They have already done enough damage by producing a compromise document. They should just let the people decide.