Diaspora Vote: Can NCA come to the rescue?
By Clifford Chitupa Mashiri
Given that the Diaspora Vote is not provided for in Copac drafts backed by
the MDC formations and Zanu-pf, could the National Consultative Assembly
(NCA) be the Diaspora’s last hope?
That hope has heightened after SADC facilitator on the Zimbabwe crisis,
South African President Jacob Zuma reportedly suggested resolving the
current impasse on the draft constitution by testing both the Copac draft
(endorsed by the MDC formations) and the one amended by Zanu-pf in a
While that makes a lot of sense, the only problem is that neither of the
rival drafts provide for the right of exiled Zimbabweans to vote in
Curiously, the Copac draft being promoted by the MDC formations does not
allow exiled Zimbabweans to vote in future elections and referendums,
despite those parties being popular abroad. As for Zanu-pf, it
disenfranchised about 3 million people mainly because of racism against
whites after the 2000 referendum went against its wishes.
With the reported resuscitation of Zanu-pf terror bases, no prizes for
guessing why Zanu-pf is opposed to the Diaspora Vote, since its Green
Bombers cannot intimidate people in London, Sydney, Johannesburg, Ottawa, or
Washington as it does in Masvingo, Mutare, Bindura, or Bulawayo.
It is also worth noting that Zanu-pf is opposed to alternative constitutions
in the referendum because it could end up being a “referendum on Mugabe and
the party” instead of a plebiscite on the draft constitution (Zimbabwe
Independent, Mugabe in panic mode, 26/08/12).
But going by the changes Zanu-pf has reportedly made to the Copac draft, it
is not surprising why they desperately want the principals to rubber-stamp
their changes and to have only one charter put to a referendum. The answer
lies in skilful manipulation.
As of now, who is and who is not a principal is very controversial except
for Tsvangirai and Mugabe. Beyond that, it is all fireworks.
Zanu-pf is confident to get what it wants through the principals than
negotiation or a people drivenmechanism. That is why it is patiently waiting
for Mugabe’s return from Iran to persuade the principals to adopt
(rubber-stamp) his party’s draft.
Among things removed by Zanu-pf from the Copac draft are dual citizenship,
devolution, presidential running mates, Peace and Reconciliation Commission,
constitutional court and introduced mandatory national youth service
(Newsday, Details of Zanu-pf,
Since the National Consultative Assembly (NCA) has its own alternative
constitution which I am sure provides for all the human rights including the
Diaspora Vote, it would made sense if the NCA draft was also put to the
referendum alongside those of the GPA parties. Obviously that would not be
uncontested since it’s not in the GPA. The positive thing about that
suggestion is that at least there would be something for NCA members to
vote for rather than a ‘NO’ vote as initially planned.
Furthermore, the NCA alternative constitution would hopefully be more
inclusive and not racist by recognising that 3-4 million Zimbabweans with
roots back home should have a right to decide who should rule Zimbabwe
regardless of colour or political affiliation.
There is a big possibility of Zimbabwe reverting to the current (Lancaster
House) Constitution, unless the impasse is resolved one way or another,
sooner rather than later.
Although, there is confusion within Zanu-pf ranks, indications are that the
former ruling party will “seek asylum” in the former colonial charter!
Asked what happens now that its amendments to the draft constitution had
been rejected by the MDC formations, Zanu-pf spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo was
quoted on the NewZimbabwe.com website on 23rd August 2012, as saying:
“But if it (Zanu-pf) is pushed to the corner, we may consider reverting to
the old (current) Constitution. If that is their position (MDC formation),
it is fine we are going to take a position on Saturday.”
Even the Head of State and Politburo had earlier made similar threats.
Addressing the 88th ordinary session of the Zanu-pf Central Committee in
Harare in March, party leader Robert Mugabe vowed:
“Zimbabwe will go for a referendum in May, failure of which it will revert
to the Lancaster House Constitution and hold elections before the end of the
year” (Bulawayo24.com, 31/03/12).
Although, May has since passed, Mugabe’s threat is still worth worrying
about given that he amended that constitution 19 times just to accommodate
his 32 years’ grip on power. There is no reason why the NCA and indeed other
organisations should not submit their alternative constitutions to the
Claims that a referendum for more than one constitution would precipitate
violence are false and unhelpful because everything comes at a price
including freedom, justice and democracy. A SADC or UN peacekeeping force
could handle violence.
It is still very mysterious why the MDC formations are not keen on the
Diaspora Vote despite Zanu-pf’s Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa saying
that allowing people in the Diaspora to vote would be tantamount to handing
over power to the MDCs.
The only chance left for the Diaspora Vote is an alternative constitution
restoring that fundamental right. Whether the NCA would be interested or
indifferent like the GPA parties, it remains to be seen.
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London,