UNIVERSITY lecturer and political activist, Munyaradzi Gwisai has said Zimbabweans should reject the new constitution, dismissing the document as deeply flawed and essentially a “peace pact” between parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
In a statement last week, Gwisai, who heads the International Socialist Organisation in Zimbabwe (ISOZ), dismissed the draft new constitution as “a negotiated and elitist peace charter by the three parliamentary political parties (Zanu PF, MDC-T, MDC) and their Western backers.”
“The people have demanded a constitution written by themselves in a democratic, participatory and gender-youth-disability balanced way. A constitution that ends the imperial executive presidency and guarantees democratic and accountable political governance and bread and butter socio economic rights,” he said.
“(But) in an era where 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI resigns citing advanced age, the COPAC draft allows an 89-year-old President Robert Mugabe to potentially rule for another 10 years, until he is 99! It (also) fails to address fundamental issues of severe poverty, gender and social inequality, economic democratisation and full political democracy.”
The constitution has since been endorsed by Parliament and is due to be put to a national referendum on the 16th of next month, leading to elections to choose a substantive government later in the year.
The process had appeared to stall over disagreements between the GPA parties until Mugabe and MDC rivals, Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube and Arthur Mutambara intervened and agreed a deal over various sticking issues last month.
Gwisai however said the document should be rejected claiming it retains an “imperial Presidency” among a host of other issues the ISOZ leader said were objectionable.
“The COPAC draft leaves substantially intact the iron fist of the executive imperial presidency to be used by the ruling classes to smash revolts from below as the crisis of capitalism locally and internationally worsens,” the statement added.
“To please Western capitalist masters, the COPAC draft has scandalously omitted the peoples’ rights of economic empowerment, indigenisation and nationalisation of strategic resources, under workers’ and communities’ democratic control.
“Further, it provides for compensation to white farmers and foreigners whose farms were expropriated, but without a cent for the ex-farm-workers who lost their jobs or land for urban housing.
“The draft will allow the Zanu PF chiefs and generals to sell for a huge profit the multiple farms they have looted. To ensure this, the draft provides that the land chapter can only be amended after a 2/3 parliamentary majority and a constitutional referendum.”
Gwisai’s ISOZ joins the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) in vowing to campaign for a ‘No’ vote during the referendum.
ISOZ Reasons for NO vote
- It was not written by the people but by four leaders of the Government of National Unity (GNU) political parties.
- It’s not democratic! 33 years’ rule by one man is enough. It allows President Mugabe, 89, possibly to rule for another 10 years, when he will be 99! Zvanyanya … He must retire. Even the Pope has, at 85.
- It does not provide funded and time-defined rights to: jobs, education, health, housing, water, food, electricity, public transport, rural development; disability; social security and empowerment. It does not provide basic rights but only progressive rights which are subject to claw-backs and availability of funds to the state but there are no provisions to enable the State to fund the declared rights.
- It’s not democratic! It retains the imperial executive president: “President wemasimba ose.” President appoints all cabinet ministers and most senior state, military and judicial officials; can unilaterally change laws, dissolve parliament or declare war. Provides no age limit. Allows current judges and AG Tomana to stay in office without vetting. No real devolution of power is provided for.
- It does not guarantee free and fair elections! The same June 2008 generals and judges will control the election process! No right to vote for the diaspora. No right to recall corrupt or ineffective councilors or MPs. No proportional representation of MPs. No quotas for workers, farmers, youths or war veterans.
- It is a politicians’ gravy train: has over 350 MPs, two vice presidents and an unlimited cabinet! It abolishes death penalty mainly for men over 70 years … who are these and why them alone? Abolish the death penalty for all! In 2011 it was the Zim 45 facing the death penalty for treason charges of watching the Egypt video, today it’s the GV 29 political prisoners … Free Maengahama and Ors… Drop the charges!
- There is no compensation for victims of past genocides, Gukurahundi, state violence like June 2008 and Murambatsvina. There is no transitional justice and punishment for perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
- It attacks workers: no living wage; no full right to strike; denies full collective bargaining for civil servants; prohibits civil servants and municipal workers from political activity; no protection of contract workers; no time limits for finalising labour disputes; no exclusive Labour Court.
- It attacks youths and students: no right to jobs, public work programs or economic empowerment; no right to education, grants or loans; no youth quotas in parliament/councils; no right to abortion.
- It attacks women: no 50-50% quotas in jobs for all public offices; no economic empowerment; no social grants and social security rights; no funded maternity pay/benefits for all women; no right to abortion.
- It attacks vendors and the informal sector: no right to trade or work without harassment; no economic empowerment; no social security benefits. It attacks and scapegoats minorities like gays and lesbians.
- It does not give land to the landless or for housing or compensation to ex-farm workers but specially protects the chiefs with many farms; and compensates ex-white and foreign Western farmers.
- It is preparation for another elite GNU after elections, bringing together ZANU-PF and MDC politicians, bosses and imperialists to make money and accelerate their policies of capitalism, ESAP [structural adjustment programs] and neoliberalism against workers, youths, women, farmers and the poor [“Eat what you hunt”].
- It totally defends the capitalist system and property of employers and the rich. There’s no nationalisation under workers’ and communities’ control of natural resources like diamonds, platinum, gold and major businesses to fund jobs, education, health, water, rural farmers etc. No empowerment or employee or community ownership schemes! It’s a constitution for politicians, employers and the rich: the 1% of plutocrats or elites, and not us the 99%, the ordinary people!
- No more half-backed promises of change or the crumbs COPAC is offering just because of elections. Politicians lie to get into power but once in office they forget the people and start looting. The COPAC constitution will cost over $130 million yet the South African one cost less than $30 million! Like the Lancaster one, this COPAC constitution will become permanent and enslave us and future generations. Politicians think they own the people, who will just blindly follow them … Stop them!