The process of gathering their views met with challenges. Some political parties sought to whip their supporters to give partisan views regarding the contents of the much-awaited charter. To some extent, many who attended the outreach meetings simply parroted the views of their political masters.
However, by and large, the outreach phase reflected the expectations and interests of the majority of Zimbabweans, among them special interest groups such as the disabled, women and children.
It is unfortunate that after their views were gathered, they were subjected to political manipulation through protracted negotiations between MDC-T, MDC-N and Zanu (PF).
In spite of all the adulteration of the people’s views during those negotiations, we have to move on. Now that the draft is out, people should once again come back to the fore.
Hopefully, there will be the Second All-Stakeholders Conference to deliberate on the draft. We expect the people to speak. They should be given the chance to say whether or not the views they gave in the first place have made it into the draft. If not, refinements will need to be made.
That rules out political parties making further attempts to doctor the document under the guise of speaking on behalf of the people. This effectively means that Zanu (PF) should forget about seeking re-negotiation of the draft, and the other two parties should forget about agreeing to that demand.
The most important stage is the referendum, where the people will, once again, have to speak through their vote. But in order to do so meaningfully, they need to know the contents of the draft, chapter by chapter, section by section.
Copac agents and other non-partisan stakeholders need to move around the country communicating this to every community.
As we write, MDC-T is set to go on the campaign trail to encourage people to vote “Yes” to the draft. But this will not achieve anything if people do not fully understand the contents and the implications thereof.Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga