‘No Vote’ a blunder: PM

Rejecting a government draft constitution 11 years ago was a blunder that condemned Zimbabwe to a decade of “political chaos and hazardous struggle to achieve democracy”, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s biography reveals his true thoughts about the rejected draft constitution
Morgan Tsvangirai’s biography reveals his true thoughts about the rejected draft constitution

Tsvangirai, then the country’s main opposition leader, worked with his MDC party, labour and civil society groups to successfully mobilise Zimbabweans to reject the draft constitution sponsored by President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu (PF) party, saying the document sought to entrench the veteran leader’s rule.

But several of those who led the ‘No Vote’ campaign, including Welshman Ncube who leads a splinter faction of the MDC, have since admitted it was strategic blunder, especially because most of the democratic reforms Zimbabweans are clamouring for would have been carried out years ago had the proposed constitution been adopted.

Tsvangirai, who, until now, had not spoken publicly on whether it was wise to reject the draft constitution, said in his recently published biography that if cool heads had prevailed and the constitution adopted, Mugabe would have been out of power by now.

“My analysis of this is that if we had accepted that draft constitution and kept cool heads, Mugabe would have been out of power within a much shorter time,” Tsvangirai said in At the Deep End.

“We could have saved ourselves 10 years of political chaos, economic havoc and hazardous struggle to achieve democracy,” said the former trade union leader, who has been accused by critics of making serious strategic blunders and flip-flopping during his 12-year struggle to unseat Mugabe.

Tsvangirai said: “Within a short space of time, circumstances would have forced Mugabe to accept what the SADC and Zimbabweans finally pushed him to do after losing the presidential election in March 2008. He would have worked out an exit strategy fairly early on.”

He added that all indications showed that by the time the constitutional referendum was held in 2000, Mugabe was already tired, had lost control of Zanu (PF) and had limited room to manoeuvre.

“We could have achieved the transfer of power in a much more clear-cut and orderly fashion than what we eventually had to go through on the way to compromise of the government of national unity,” Tsvangirai said.

Mugabe’s defeat in the constitutional referendum was his first in a major vote since taking power at Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence from Britain.

Many analysts say the referendum loss was a wake up call for the veteran leader who, within months of the plebiscite, called for general elections, while setting off security forces and youth militia on a campaign of violence and intimidation to force the electorate to return Zanu (PF) to power.

Zimbabwe’s elections have since then been characterised by violence and charges of vote rigging, which saw the European Union and United States slapping targeted measures on Mugabe and senior members of Zanu (PF).

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