Constitution: Mugabe rattles spin doctors

HARARE - Zanu PF apologists who have over the past months been castigating and denouncing the writing of the new Constitution are in a quandary, struggling to sell it to the people after President Robert Mugabe endorsed it.

Jonathan Moyo, who was the most vocal before Mugabe’s pact with the MDCs, has since gone silent on the issue.

State TV, ZBC’s weekly talk show programme — Our African Pride has since the adoption of the draft constitution been attacking the process left, right and centre.

After Mugabe endorsed the new draft charter, analysts featuring on the programme have been at pains, still trying to denounce the draft constitution — which Mugabe has acceded to.

In recent weeks, Our African Pride has devoted its entire episodes denouncing the Principals’ call for a “Yes” vote in the coming referendum on a new constitution.

Presented by an academic and University of Zimbabwe English lecturer, Vimbai Chivaura, the programme comprises permanent panellists and sidekicks, Tafataona Mahoso and industrialist Danny Masukuma.

Deliberating in Shona, Chivaura said the new constitution is a “smelly-wrapped package” that can explode at any time and expose Zimbabweans to its toxic waste.

He said: “Why should we lie to people that there are nice things wrapped in that package when for sure we know that it contains dangerous substances?

“Zimbabweans should be told the truth so that they know that the “Yes” vote is not implying that the document is good. It does not contain the people’s views,” said Chivaura.

Masukuma said the media was misleading people into believing the call for a “Yes” vote came about because the draft constitution was perfect.  

“The radios and newspapers are misleading people. The people of Zimbabwe should be told the truth about the contents contained in the draft constitution,” said Masukuma.

He said Mugabe as head of the State had to intervene to find a way out of the delays in the constitutional process — not only to please his party Zanu PF but every other Zimbabwean.

“While he is head of his party, above all he is president of all Zimbabweans regardless of which political party they belong to. He had to take a bold decision as the ‘father’ that could see us cross this bridge — the elections.

“It is the duty of Zanu PF and the MDCs at party level to tell people the truth, that they only agreed on this document as a compromise to hold elections. They should explain all that to the people,” said Masukuma.

He said it would be dangerous for Zanu PF to go on the ground and lie to its members that they should vote “Yes” because the constitution is good.

“There are a number of principles that Zanu PF stands for, among them issues to do with land and war veterans which are not properly-covered in the draft constitution. These will have to be dealt with once the majority party wins the next elections.”

Mahoso said just like the Lancaster House Constitution, the proposed one can always be altered after the elections.

“The Lancaster Constitution was agreed on by the liberation party so as to move forward and hold elections. This new Constitution is a bridge, like the president has said to facilitate our movement to the next step. After the elections, those parliamentarians chosen would then sit down and look at areas that need to be improved. Already Zanu PF has more than 200 amendments it seeks to amend in that document,” said Mahoso.

Mahoso said Mugabe as a “father” had chosen a way out of the current constitutional mess by agreeing a constitutional pact with the other principals.

“He is not saying the dratf constitution is good. He is asking his members to keep its dirt in their armpits while urging his supporters not to open them until after the elections.”

Masukuma said both Zanu PF and MDCs were hoping to change the constitution after the elections.
“The MDC is saying if Zanu PF compromised during the Lancaster talks, in anticipation of changing the constitution after winning the general elections of 1980, they too can do the same.”

He said the important thing now is to look into the future — after having used “this document to hold elections.

“The future after this process has to be looked at because as of now we are moving into a new phase without finishing the task at hand; the task of incorporating important issues into the new constitution, issues like the reburial of our dead war heroes.”

Mahoso said while the document is now in the public domain, what was missing is the explanation of its contents to people at grassroots.

“The parties are not explaining the basis of a ‘Yes’ vote to the people.  And we have a number of officials in Zanu PF celebrating with the enemy over the ‘Yes’ call…others like Eric Bloch and John Robertson.”

Masukuma said the removal of some Zanu PF officials from the sanctions list by the European Union meant the body was satisfied with the way the constitution-making process was moving.

He however, said the current disagreements and problems in government were because it was difficult “to rule for too long together with an enemy. Imagine Bin Laden ruling together with George Bush.”

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