'Presidential term limit welcome'

HARARE - Zimbabweans must be thanked for voting “Yes” during the referendum vote as this will limit presidents to only two terms in office.

Playwright Cont Mhlanga said it was wise for Zimbabwe to vote “Yes”, hence doing away with presidents who rule forever.

“It is a plus for us and that is the only positive thing in the new constitution. A president should not rule for 33 years undisrupted — 10 years is enough for any individual and I am happy that Zimbabweans woke up to this reality,” said Mhlanga.

He said endless terms for presidents breed cronyism which in the long run promotes corruption and mass graft.

“Look at the events unfolding in neighbouring Zambia and Malawi where former presidents and their ministers are being hauled to the courts because of corruption while in power.

“In 10 years a president will not manage to build sophisticated cronyism that will accumulate to high corrupt tendencies like we have in Zimbabwe,” said Mhlanga.

The playwright said the new constitution means Zimbabweans will be choosing a new leader after every two terms.

“This brings in a new president with fresh ideas and this also safeguards us from having a president from one political party.

“As it stands, Zanu PF will no longer monopolise the presidency — their time is up already.”

He said a new president will always come with his own security chiefs.

“This thing about security sector reform will automatically be solved as every new leader chooses is own security.”

Davison Todson Gomo, chief executive officer of Affirmative Action Group said the question of the constitution has been controversial since Lancaster House and it remained work in progress to this day.
 
Gomo said what we witnessed this last week is a huge step towards creating a truly home-grown constitution and one that secures the interests of all Zimbabweans.

“True, looking at it from the overwhelming support this process has received and the endorsement of the current draft constitution, it is clear that Zimbabweans from all walks of life are saying it is better to make progress than wait until all we want is fully addressed,” said Gomo.

He said the constitution is not entirely perfect but gives parties and the people of Zimbabwe an opportunity to move to another level of nation building.

“What has been approved and voted for by the people is not the final destination in the process of constitution-making but a position that puts strong pillars of nation building in place.

“The politicians have clear guidelines and parameters to conduct their business while the population has its rights clearly enunciated therein and have a reference point with regards to holding the public figures to account,” said Gomo.

He said this development puts paid to all prophets of doom, those who wanted Zimbabwe to descend into anarchy and chaos so they would have every reason on the book to rubbish the process as an exercise in futility and therefore not credible in order to justify the continuance of sanctions against the people of Zimbabwe.

“We commend the peaceful manner in which the elections were conducted and the astute attention to detail by the election management authorities.

“The execution of the programme and the level of communication with the public was maintained at fairly high level of performance and indeed, this was one of the most successful voting process Zimbabwe has ever handled.

“We appeal to all Zimbabweans to maintain this level of responsibility at the next phase and to differ peaceably in search of a government that represents the sum total of their wishes and aspirations,” said Gomo.

There was a general feeling by analysts that while there was voter apathy in some areas, the coming general election vote would see more Zimbabweans voting.

Social commentator Thomas Deve said voter apathy is a sign of depoliticisation and visible lack of interest in constitutional matters.

“Since the referendum was an exercise that did not entirely express one’s views towards any political actors, it shows us that more people will enthusiastically vote in the next set of elections.”

Precious Shumba, director of Harare Residents Trust, HRT said the boycott by some voters might point to lack of interest in the political affairs of the nation.

“Sometimes people are justified to feel that their vote is not changing anything in their lives, so do not necessarily find voting as a life-changing activity.

“From the results released, it is clear that less than half the registered population participated.

“This might point to a higher turnout in the anticipated harmonised elections when political parties use the results to focus their campaigns, targeting areas that did not positively respond during the draft campaigns,” said Shumba.

Rashweat Mukundu, a media practitioner and former director of MISA-Zimbabwe says voter apathy witnessed in some areas was a characteristic of political processes where citizens feel alienated and abused.

“The Constitution-making process was a political elite deal and there was no contest as all main parties campaigned for the “Yes” vote.  The excitement was lost as citizens were simply being asked to endorse a process they were not fully part of,” says Mukundu.

He says if the coming elections are not fought on tangible people’s issues with security guarantees then people will simply stay away again.

“People are increasingly disillusioned with the capacity of the State to be of any relevance to their lives. Given a choice between vending vegetables and making a few dollars or voting many would go and vend and fend for themselves,” said Mukundu.

Writer Virginia Phiri said while people are always busy, it was wise that they went out to vote in the referendum and expects more during the general elections.

“I feel it is always the best to go along and vote. We are all busy but we should try and make time as voting determines our livelihoods,” said Phiri.

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