Big test still to come

HARARE - So the referendum has come and gone!

I am one of those who still have misgivings about the way we were railroaded into the poll without being given enough time to study this very important document.

But the fact that the powers that be had their way makes my reservations irrelevant.

What a lot of people did not expect is the number of people who took time to vote.
 
At a time when a lot of the so-called pundits and analysts were saying the poll would be characterised by apathy Zimbabweans confounded them all by coming out to express themselves.

Whether that overwhelming “yes” vote was an informed decision or based on what the politicians wanted is not important now.

Call it the voice of the people or the tyranny of the majority the fact is we are all — including those of us who refused to go along to get along — stuck with the “people-driven constitution” as it is described by some.

I know there are those who voted with their feet by not bothering to go and dip their little fingers in the red ink.

Some felt their vote would not make a difference as “the result was a foregone conclusion” while others did not know enough of the draft to either endorse or reject it.

Others were also suspicious of the whole exercise pointing to the fact that for once, the ever-squabbling members of the Government of National Unity were in agreement.

“There must be something wrong when politicians from such diametrically opposed parties agree,” said one.

There might be some merit in that argument. But maybe the parties are so fed up with working together that they compromised on the draft constitution so we can have general elections.

And judging by the rhetoric, it seems they all believe they will land the knockout punch that will end the marriage of convenience they find themselves in as a result of the inconclusive result of the 2008 elections.

Also as we have seen in the past, I suppose they can always amend those parts of the constitution they do not like once they get into power with the majority to do so.

We have been told that this constitution is a much better document than the Lancaster House one which it is going to replace and we should embrace it with fervour.

I shall give it the benefit of the doubt because it’s a done deal and maybe it is better after all.

In any case, whatever its merits; whatever its advantages over the last one, the fact remains that a constitution is only as good as the people who are supposed to govern by it.

Despite my own misgivings and those of a lot of other Zimbabweans, it was good to have an almost incident-free poll. I however think that the effusive talk of the “maturity” of Zimbabweans being crowed about by some sections of the media is a tad misplaced and premature.

Firstly I think it’s insulting the intelligence of Zimbabweans by suggesting we were “immature” before.

I believe that, left to our own devices and given a chance to express ourselves without politicians poisoning some peoples’ minds by saying “if you are not with us you are against us” and deserve to be punished, we are mature enough to respect each other’s right and freedom to express ourselves.

That’s mature.

Secondly, there was no contest here.

The politicians and their parties were in agreement and the right to rule, or misrule if you like, was not at stake.

This was merely a dry run for the big one; the general election, which we are told is due before the end of the year.

If we pass that test, if we do not beat each other upside the head during the campaign and the actual poll, then I can live with being described as mature as it won’t matter.

I’ll be too busy celebrating. - ish Mafundikwa


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