NEWZIMBABWE.COM reporter Alois Vinga (AV) recently caught up with constitutional law expert, Professor Lovemore Madhuku (LM) on the recent confusion around Zimbabwe’s constitutional amendments by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
Following are excerpts of the interview.
AV: Recently you addressed the media on matters concerning the constitution. What prompted you to take the stance?
LM: It was an NCA media conference. The NCA was stating its position on the constitutional amendments. The issue of being “prompted” is misplaced. The NCA stance is not new, we believe in a people-driven constitution. We campaigned for a NO vote in 2013 because the constitution was being imposed on the people by the inclusive government. The amendments have been imposed by Zanu PF. The NCA is consistently opposed to any constitution making process that is driven by politicians of the day.
AV: Please highlight the main issues of concern you have against the just concluded constitutional amendments?
LM: We have two main issues of concern, process and content. In process, the concern is the continuation of an approach that subjects constitution-making processes to the whims of the ruling party of the day. We are concerned about the increasing consolidation of power in the hands of the President.
AV: Just after the recent High Court ruling which confirmed Justice Malaba’s retirement, we saw President Mnangagwa issuing a contradictory statement from the one made by his Justice Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi. What does this reflect?
LM: It is very naive to read anything into the President’s statement. If I were you, I would treat the minister’s statement as the reaction of the government. Ziyambi Ziyambi has the full authority of the President to run the Ministry of Justice.
AV: A section of the public is questioning the stance you took amid speculation that you appear to be a firm supporter of President Emmerson Mnangagwa after being seen closely around him since his ascendency to power. What is your take on this?
LM: I am the President of the NCA. In the last election, I voted for myself and for NCA candidates. I will do the same in 2023. The NCA is a member of Polad. In Polad, we interact with the President. The NCA position is that between now and 2023, we will use the Polad platform to express our views to the President and government on all issues of interest to us as a political party.
AV: There is general suspicion that you saw the obtaining constitutional crisis as an opportunity to cash in from donors who supported you at the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) before the crafting of the new constitution. What is your reaction to this?
LM: The NCA is a political party. It has never received any cash from any donor since its transformation into a political party. It is exclusively funded by its members. The issue of cash from donors is out of the question.
AV: Against the background, don’t you think that the decision which was taken leading to the transformation of the NCA into a political party was hurried?
LM: Transformation of the NCA into a political party took place in September 2013. It was inevitable after the great betrayal of 2013. It became apparent in the referendum campaign that none of the then existing political parties would ever stand for a people-driven Constitution. There was no point in remaining a civic organisation in the face of such a massive onslaught on the concept of people driven processes. The NCA entered politics to stand for pro-poor people driven processes in all facets including the Constitution. We are the only political party in Zimbabwe with such a thrust.
AV: What will be your last word to President Emmerson Mnangagwa concerning the current concerns around the constitution?
LM: The President and Zanu PF have a totally opposite approach to constitution-making. They believe that a ruling party has all the power to shape the constitution as it wishes. The NCA has been challenging their approach since 1997. I have nothing more to say to the President regarding constitution – making.