Will constitution bring enemies closer?

People will be asked in a referendum to vote Yes or No to the Constitution final draft that has cost over $45 million and two years to prepare. This Parliament-led constitution process has been marred by divisions, with NGOs such as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the National Constitutional Assembly choosing to boycott while others chose to be involved, giving some credibility to the process.

Lovemore Madhuku …Voting NO.
Lovemore Madhuku …Voting NO.

One of the interesting dynamics that is promising to emerge is the possibility that former enemies will be on the same side when it comes to voting. The two MDCs have both endorsed the final draft. Matters of running mates and devolution of powers are still a problem for both parties but it is expected that they won’t change the final draft.

Zanu (PF) is said to be divided in three camps: one against the draft, another defending it, including the negotiators, and a third which is neutral. To throw spanners in the works, certain NGOs, some of which were once linked to political parties, are said to be lobbying for a NO Vote. Groups that have criticised the process argue that it was not inclusive and inherently flawed. As things stand, Zanu (PF) and these sections of the civic society are finding themselves on the same side, lobbying for a no vote to the draft. This referendum may serve as a platform for new future coalitions in Zimbabwe politics.

What is important now is whether people will be given a chance to reject or accept the draft without any disturbances. The critical question remains about the campaigning and information environment: it is vital that this be free for everyone who wants to participate. The media must report impartially on matters of concern and people must be fully informed. The referendum will be a test for Zimbabwe’s fragile efforts to promote democracy. It is time now to allow people to have a say. The battle lines have been drawn.

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