HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsA constitution without political will: What hogwash!

A constitution without political will: What hogwash!


THE constitution-making process which was characterised by inter-party bickering has come and gone, for all intense and purposes and has been hailed as a landmark success.

National Question with Brian Mangwende

For the first time ever, major opposing political gladiators and forces have come together, in a spirit of give-and-take and put in place a constitution which is not necessarily the ideal or best, but one which represents an incremental shift from the Lancaster House Constitution crafted in Britain ahead of Zimbabwe’s
independence attained later in 1980.

There was pomp and fanfare as the Parliament of Zimbabwe, in unison, gave the draft a thumbs-up!

But, as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. All that painstaking hard work will come to naught, as long as those that will be charged with the responsibility of running State affairs do not change their mindset and start acting responsibly and constitutionally. The greatest threat to any State and its security is wanton disregard of constitutional tenets by those who run State affairs.

There hasn’t been much wrong with the Lancaster House Constitution, if one takes a critical look at it.

Kenya was run on a similar constitution at independence and it was run differently, from the way Zimbabwe was run.

One would have thought that Kenya had a home-grown blueprint.

In Zimbabwe, on the other hand, we had talk of the constitution being a mere piece of paper which could be torn up and we have also heard very senior civil servants making incendiary political remarks about this and that.

We have had talk of “what was brought by the gun cannot be taken away by the ballot or a pen and a paper”.

These are clearly actionable unconstitutional and treasonous pronouncements, anywhere in the world, where there is rule of law. Anyone making such extravagant statements would not last another day in public office in the civilised world . . . they would be in grave trouble.

In Zimbabwe, these chilling statements are made by the very people who took an oath and swore to uphold constitutionality.

What hope then, is there that the same players, who act with such brazen impunity today, will respect the new constitution tomorrow? I am not sanguine about the prospects.

I suspect that Zimbabwe will remain the banana republic it has been reduced to, for sometime to come, until a new breed of modern politicians without the arrogant baggage of so-called “liberators” of bygone times emerge.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, it is therefore important that the State exercises its authority, which authority derives from the same Constitution, to ensure respect for the Constitution and the law.

Any departure from this makes those State players mere gangsters. It is also prudent to note that for the Constitution to adhered to, the PEOPLE must be vigilant to ensure accountability and transparency.

It has been said — and not denied — that a constitution is only as good as the will, integrity and honest commitment of those charged with the responsibility of not only enforcing it, but also of adhering to its principles but, entrusted to gangsters and uncivilised imbeciles, the best constitution in the world just wouldn’t make any difference.

It must be borne in mind that Mobutu Sese Seko of the Congo and Idi Amin of Uganda had constitutions as well, but they threw them into the dustbins and chose to rule by decree.

What followed is well documented history.

I take my hat off to some of our neighbours, South Africa, Zambia, and Malawi. In terms of upholding the sanctity of constitutionalism, they continue to make great strides.

They do Africa proud, and we have a lot to learn from them.

Let’s all thrive to work for a better Zimbabwe where our children will be proud that we played our part in coming up and upholding a home-grown constitution based on views collected from the citizenry.

Brian Mangwende is the Group Planning Editor of Alpha Media Holdings.

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