For the record there some of us who passionately argued that Zimbabwe’s 2013 new constitution was weak and feeble; it would never deliver free, fair and credible elections. Tsvangirai, Biti, Ncube, Coltart and all the other MDC leaders said it would deliver free and fair elections and that nation should vote yes to approve in the March 2013 referendum. Tsvangirai went so far as to call the new constitution an “MDC child”!
The nation approved it by a staggering 95%. According to Tendai Biti up to 15% of the Yes Vote in the referendum was fraudulent; this was the first sign how much Mugabe and Zanu PF wanted the new constitution approved. The second sign was the boasting by MP Paul Mangwana that it was Mugabe who had “dictated the new constitution”.
So the new constitution was not the democratic constitution every expected it to be, not an “MDC child” but rather a tyrant’s creed.
SADC Heads of State aware that the new constitution was weak and feeble argued MDC to implement the raft of democratic reforms agreed in the 2008 GPA. They even warned MDC not to take part in the elections before the reform are implemented but Tsvangirai and others ignored the warning.
The July 2013 elections proved beyond all doubt that the new constitution was indeed weak and feeble as Mugabe and Zanu PF managed to blatantly rig the vote!
Ever since the rigged July 2013 elections the three MDC factions, MDC-T, MDC (Ncube) and MDC Renewal and now calling themselves People Democratic Party (PDP), involved in the GNU said they would not take part in any future elections until “existing electoral and security sector laws are aligned to the new constitution”.
Given that the new constitution is weak and feeble, whether MDC leaders care to admit it or not is irrelevant what matters is that it is, it was therefore obvious the realignment would not produce the desired results of free, fair and credible elections and all the freedoms and human rights we are seeking. It really did not make any sense wasting time and money pursuing this route.
The best and only option was to revert back to the raft of reform in 2008 GPA and implement all these reforms.
The first supporting evidence that the realigning the existing laws would not deliver the democratic changes came from Tawanda Chimhini the Director of Electoral Resource Centre (ERC) who together with 17 other local Zimbabwean NGOs supported the realignment route. They had been lobbying parliament to amend the necessary laws.
"As a democracy, we need to grow and the electoral reforms that we are proposing are not a threat to anybody," explain Tawanda Chimhini when quizzed on what kind reforms ERC was seeking.
The raft of democratic reforms proposed in the 2008 GPA were definitely a serious threat to Mugabe and Zanu PF because they were designed to dismantle the Zanu PF dictatorship which had usurped the people’s democratic freedoms and rights for selfish political gain including the right to a meaningful vote and even the right to life. So the reforms ERC and MDC are pushing for will not “a threat” to Mugabe and Zanu PF only if they will not dismantle the dictatorship!
If there were any doubting Thomas still out there who still believed there was anything to be gained from re-aligning the existing laws as contrast to implementing the raft of reforms in the GPA this extract from Angus Shaw’s report in The Zimbabwean should finally settle this matter.
“Proposed amendments to the crucial Electoral Act now before the Zimbabwe parliament are “inadequate and incomplete,” reports the admirable group Veritas, an independent local think tank on legal matters,” reads Shaw’s report.
“On the existing media laws, Veritas says it is doubtful that they can ever be aligned with the constitution. “What is certain is that the General Laws Amendment Bill does not even try to do so,” says the group. Ideally, laws that make “abuse of freedom of expression a criminal offence” should be repealed and completely redrafted to comply with the new constitution.
“Amendments proposed in the Defence Act mean it will “remain unconstitutional in several important respects,” says Veritas.
“The list of flaws in the General Laws Amendment Bill is legion. Since those disputed elections in 2013, no-one in Mr Mugabe’s ruling party, it appears, can either be bothered or find the will to adhere to the nation’s supreme law.”
The title of Angus Shaw’s article is “Dysfunctional Zimbabwe” and in all honesty, who can deny that.
If MDC had implemented all the GPA reforms and drafted a wholesome democratic constitution we would have had free, fair and credible elections in July 2013 and everyone would be enjoying their freedoms and basic rights. It is most unfortunate that Tsvangirai et al failed to implement even one single 2008 GPA reform in five years of the GNU.
What matters now is that we realize the choices before us; either to go down the route of re-aligning the existing knowing fully well, Veritas has confirmed this, that these reforms will never deliver the democratic changes we want. We will per se accept our present status as a dysfunctional nation and worse still condemn future generation to the same.
Or demand the implementation of all the 2008 GPA reforms and finally secure our freedoms and rights including the right to our first free, fair and credible elections and the right to life itself. Our ability to finally do something to address the corruption, mismanagement and lawlessness behind the economic meltdown is totally dependent, first and foremost, on us ending the country’s corrupt and tyrannical system of government.
We must demand that Mugabe and Zanu PF step down to allow the implementation of the 2008 GPA reforms. The regime has had two years since the rigged July 2013 to implement the watered electoral reforms and yet it has done nothing, the regime not bothered or lacks the will. It will be very naïve therefore to expect the regime to find the will to fully implement the tougher 2008 GPA reforms. Mugabe and Zanu PF must be pressured to step down so an independent body is appointed to implement the GPA reforms.