Zimbabwe Constitution should strive to address the following

As the drive to enlist the populace’s views on what should be included in the would- be constitution, here is my own contribution. As a dyed in the wool democrat, I would appreciate if your respected press allows others to debate and respond to my proposals.

I have not seen the constitutional outreach people in our area thus my resolve to have my little voice heard through this periodical. Also, constitutionalism has not been Zanu modus operandi ever since independence. Since we are experience the last of the Zanu monster, it makes a lot of sense that we commence contributing to the constitution. A sense of despairing had almost gripped me as multitudes other citizens on our country but as I read 1 Kings 19 verses 4-10, a sense of optimism returned to me.

The constitution should make it unconstitutional for someone who has a shady track record to hold elected public office. We need to be reminded that a constitution is just a piece of paper only sacred to those that bother respect it. It has been raped by Nujoma in Namibia thus foisting a third term clause for his benefit when his sell by date had arrived. Similar efforts were tried by Muluzi and Chiluba though they failed dismally. As the constitution is simply a means to an end, we need to ensure that whoever is elected to hold the highest office in the land at least has the propensity to respect that piece of paper otherwise the end that it seeks to achieve will never be achieved. We have been having a constitution that has been doctored willy-nilly by the serpent at state house with the help of a bunch of self-seeking accomplices masquerading as parliamentarians: bring senate, abolish senate, reintroduce it, and introduce two vice- kings all to no benefit at all to the masses. It is, therefore, imperative that anyone wishing to contest for elected public office yet they have skeletons in their cupboard should be cleared first.

As a public document, the constitution should be made readily available. The current constitution is quite scarce. I have not seen it as has millions of other citizens. We only hear from legal fundis such as the Welsh professor and Love Madhuku that such and such a section of it says this and that. A Munyaradzi asina raMangwana also refers to sections of the secret document at times. We have been treated as surrogates in that regard, denied or restricted access to a topical document that directly affects our rights. Efforts should be made to make the final document which we are laboring to contribute to available to us. If the gist is to keep it private as currently is, then please spare us the hassle of making our heartfelt contributions to it.

Having address the two aspects alluded to above, the constitution should bring indigenous languages parri passu that is; they should elevated to the same level. If Smith coerced the Shanganis to learn Shona because he was white and he cared little about the destiny of indigenous languages, Mugabe continued because he wanted to Zezurunize the whole nation, now the time for change has come. Change in all its ramifications, I mean. One Ndebele vote is equal to one Indian is equal to one Venda vote, so why shouldn’t a Venda kid be allowed to learn their own language. By the same token, racism and tribalism should criminalized. We are smarting from a period characterized by racially and tribally motivated hatred and killings. Zanu has been at the forefront of exploiting the lowest common denominator for political appeal.

I believe that presidential, parliamentary and municipal terms should be commuted to three consecutive of five years each. These should of course depend on how the incumbent has performed during the past term. It goes without saying that if true democracy takes route and the polls are free and fair then the polls should be an opportunity to punish non-performers. Essentially, provision should be made to enable a sitting president to be impeached and a snap election be called in the event of abuse of constitutionally granted powers and non-performance. This is very practical because the Indians do it; the British do it as well as the Israelites. Our own history has shown us that five years can be a century with murderous kleptocrat at the helm. Ask the Ndebele (1980-85), the whites and MDC supporters (2000-05).

And here comes the age and qualifications of the holder of office. Bearers of public office should not be so old that they cannot even remember how many grandchildren they have. It is satirical that politics and government become retirement homes. It is only just that since public servants are not allowed to hold office beyond 65, the same should be applied to politicians. This is even too lenient given that politicians’ decisions do affect millions whereas those of public servants affect hundreds at most. It, therefore, becomes imperative that those that are in positions to effect far-reaching decisions be of a younger age. We have been handled by very educated politicians for the past three decades and what do have to show for that; a very failed state governed using medieval laws and regulations as if we are handled by feudal kings. May be the qualifications should be 5 O’ Levels including English for president, MPs and councilors. After all, it is the permanent secretaries that do all the technical work in ministries. May be the uneducated will perform better to cover up for their lack of education.

Then comes the issue of when and how should be the constitution be changed. Of course the constitution is a living document that should be revised as and when circumstances dictate. Whenever it becomes necessary to change the constitution, a three quarter majority should be obtained from parliament before such alterations can be constitutionally effected. This will ensure that changes made are for the benefit of ordinary citizens as opposed to the sharks of the ruling party. We have seen constitutions tempered with in the region to the prejudice of the masses. White bearded Nujoma give himself an extra term in Namibia when the luxury of the highest office got the better of him. Rupiah Banda is in the process of inserting a clause that requires a presidential candidate to at least hold a degree in an apparent attempt to preclude fierce rival Sata. It only happens if the constitution itself allows the president and the ruling party to alter it as and when they see it fit.

On religion, the constitution should allow freedom in its broadest sense. Those who say Allah Akbar, the ones who say God help me and those who say Mudzimu Ndiringe should be seen as equals. This should then imply that preachings that deride a certain religion should be outlawed. The music of the likes of Charamba that degrade our indigenous religion as demonic should be banned outright. Accordingly all religions more so our indigenous one is afforded a lot of air time on state radio and television. In a similar vein, religion should be used a veiled cover for crime. The marriage of reluctant, underage girls to geriatrics in the guise of religion should be outlawed outright. Let alone the raping of women in general as a cure to social taboos. Care should be taken to gauge the percentage of the population that still adhere to traditional beliefs yet purport to be Christians. There is a legion, I reckon.

The status of our chiefs should be elevated by the new constitution. It should explicitly state that they should remain apolitical and be barred from elected public office. They should be granted powers that resonate with their being custodians of our culture. In the last regard, it should be recommended that they subscribe to our traditional religion as the two are analogous. We have seen chiefs routinely employed as political pawns by Mugabe when it suited him despite him having left them in the cold for two decades when the going was still good. It then goes without saying that those chiefs that have elected to sleep with Mugabe may find themselves removed and replaced. A good example would that of Josphat Madubeko of Gweru.

The death sentence should remain in place. Our southern neighbhour has dared show the world that they are liberal thus abolished capital punishment. What they got in return is the highest crime rate in the world. It has been tried and tested and proven that the more stringent the criminal justice, the less is the incidence of crime. That explains why Islamic countries are not crime infested. Executive powers should be trimmed most of them being bestowed on parliament. We have suffered a lot with Mugabe doing as he likes to dare repeat the same mistake, sweeping presidential powers.

The place of security forces in a democratic society should be carefully defined by the constitution. If the current surreptitious constitution stipulates that part of their brief is to prop up the ruling party that should be a thing of the past. The very masses that the army, CIO and police routinely terrorize are their paymasters. May be some of them are so daft that they do not know that Zanu does not own a factory from which they generate revenue that in turn pays them salaries. Soldiers should be confined to the barracks only coming out when the nation is under threat from external foes or when called upon to aid in international conflicts. The police and the CIO should deal with criminals that threaten state security, not opposition figures executing their democratic mandates. Before the new constitution can take root, some rogue elements within the said structures need to be kicked out like revelers after a Bacchanalian orgy. After all some have shown open disdain for the inevitable president at the stoop, save.

The next and last contribution of mine is the number of provinces, constituencies and senates. Given our limited economic resources and the extent of our geography, I believe a maximum of six provinces will suffice. This will entail keeping while extending Manic land, Mashing and Midlands. Matabeleland will be amalgamated into one and the three Mashonalands and Harare remoulded into Mashonaland East and West. Each province will then be headed by a governor being one of the elected MPs chosen by the president. This will reduce the patronage that we current witness with the president hand picking unelected cronies to the vital position of provincial governor. The governor needs to come from the party with the most number of constituencies within that province to promote democracy.

The senate needs to be abolished outright. It has served the purposes of Mugabe and his acolytes while exacerbating the vicissitudes of the country. Constituencies need to be cut back to 150. The US apart from having a million times the resources we have and more than 25 times the population only has 450 MPs. Only God knows shy Mugabe who routinely begs in western capitals wants to catch up with them on the size of the parliament. South Africa has four times our population and trebles us geographically but only has 400 MPs to show for that. Raila is calling for a reduced parliament in the new Kenyan constitution currently under discussion. With your wisdom, I believe Mr Tsvangirai shall see through this contribution that the nation cannot afford a bloated parliament, cabinet and let alone security service. 120 of the MPs should be elected with 15 allocated according to proportional representation. The remaining 15 should then be allocated to chiefs (6) with each from each of the 6 provinces and the remaining 7 to minority races and tribes.

I hope Honourable Mwonzora will lay his hands on my contribution and make it count. I also pray incessantly that Mugabe does not press treason charges against the said MP before he has the chance of ciphering my contribution. I gather that the charges stem from the hon. called yours sincerely a goblin because he does not want to vacate state house and Munhumutapa buildings. Because if my contribution lands in the hands of a Welsh professor or a certain Munyaradzi, it may be doctored and lose its authenticity.

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