NCA PRESS STATEMENT ON REFERENDUM OF 16 MARCH, 2013
NCA PRESS STATEMENT ON REFERENDUM OF 16 MARCH, 2013
Presented by NCA Chairperson Professor Lovemore Madhuku at Bumbiro/Isisekelo
House today, 20 MARCH, 2013
1. The conduct of the referendum was neither credible nor satisfactory. This
arises from the following facts, among others:
• The notice period given was inadequate and displayed lack of respect for
the people. It was extreme arrogance for the President to admit this fact on
the day he was casting his vote when he had deployed all state resources to
resist attempts by some citizens to delay the vote.
• Copies of the Draft constitution were not available in reasonable numbers.
• State and donor resources were only available for the “Yes” campaign.
• The “Yes” campaign used hate speech. For example the Prime Minister
described the No campaign as being made up of “nhinhi”[Sunningdale] and
those intending to vote “No” as having mamhepo(evil spirits)[Bulawayo].
• The police disrupted many “NO” campaign meetings and the atmosphere was
not conducive to public meetings by the “NO” campaign to the extent that
many voters had no access to the “No” message.
• ZEC was not independent. For example, it failed to play its role in terms
of electoral law to monitor media coverage.
• The judiciary was not independent. The courts dismissed, on suspicious
grounds, every application meant to make the referendum more democratic.
2. The NCA does not accept that the YES vote means an endorsement by the
people of Zimbabwe of a new constitution. The draft Constitution is
undemocratic and will remain undemocratic and unacceptable when it becomes
the constitution of Zimbabwe. An undemocratic constitution does not become
democratic merely on account of voters being misled by political leaders
into a ritual of just voting “YES”.
3. A constitution-making process does not become “people-driven” merely on
account of people being taken through rituals where they attend meetings and
say what they have been told to say nor is this achieved by taking the
people through the rituals of a referendum where they are told to vote “Yes”.
4. In this regard, the NCA wishes to be very categoric and unambiguous: we
reject in toto the notion that Zimbabweans have spoken and have accepted the
Draft Constitution. We hold that the “Yes” vote is illegitimate. The
referendum result is therefore illegitimate and not acceptable to us. This
• 95% of the “Yes” voters had neither seen nor read the Draft constitution.
• 95% of the “Yes” voters knew nothing about the contents of the Draft
• The “Yes” voters, by their own admission, said they were voting “Yes”
because they were following orders from political leaders to do so.
• The voters had not been afforded an opportunity to hear and/or listen to
the points of view of the “No” campaign. The “No” campaign was
systematically denied access to the public media while messages of the “Yes”
vote were the order of the day. The only time a “Yes” will mean a “Yes” to a
Draft Constitution is when voters have been exposed to the contents, have
heard opposing views and have genuinely voted “Yes”. Where voters are
prevented by self-serving politicians from accessing alternative views, a
“Yes” is invalid.
• The 179 489 voters who rejected the Draft Constitution knew what they were
doing: they had all been subjected to a “Yes” campaign but rejected it. Many
of them had considered the arguments for the “No” campaign and embraced
• The 56 627 rejected votes voted “NO” either by writing it or spoiling the
ballot in other ways.
• There are over 7,5 million Zimbabweans with National IDs and this is the
eligible voter population. The reported 3,3 million who voted is just 44%.
What is the view of 56%? This is clearly voter apathy. In any event, the
claim that 3,3 million people voted is a fraud by ZEC. To claim that there
was close to a million more voters in the referendum than in the March 2008
harmonised elections is to take the public for fools.
• In matters such as the constitution, the focus must not be just on
eligible voters but on the entire population. There are about 13 million
Zimbabweans. The 95% of the 3 million Zimbabweans who took the irresponsible
decision of voting “Yes” to a document that they had neither seen nor read
cannot bind the conscience of the rest and future generations. Those who are
not eligible to vote should have been afforded the opportunity to read the
Draft Constitution and contribute to debate, thereby influencing the
formation of a genuine national opinion. This did not happen principally
because the current political leaders were pushing a narrow, self-serving
and partisan agenda.
• As soon as more people get to read the draft Constitution (or
Constitution, when it gets enacted) they will realise the folly of the “Yes”
vote and will join those rejecting it. That point will be reached soon and
it will be apparent to the generality of the people that our country does
not have a democratic constitution, notwithstanding the referendum of 16
• ZEC aided the “Yes” vote. First, by misinterpreting the intentions of
thousands of voters in rural areas, particularly Mash East, Mash Central and
Masvingo who indicated that they wanted their vote to be put on “President
Mugabe”. These voters should have been turned away but ZEC officials
interpreted this as a “Yes” vote when we all know that the President`s vote
is his secret. Secondly, ZEC did not turn away thousands of voters who
asked, on arrival, what the voting was all about. ZEC officials in rural
areas responded that it was all about voting “YES”.
5. Just as Zimbabwe has been under the undemocratic Lancaster House
Constitution, henceforth it shall be under an undemocratic GPA constitution.
The Yes vote merely means a change from Lancaster and does not mean a change
to a democratic constitutional order. For instance, there is no way
Zimbabweans can be said to have said “Yes” to:
• retaining a powerful President with unlimited powers and who appoints
every state official including Ministers, judges, ambassadors, permanent
secretaries, Commissions and so on.
• a huge and expensive government with over 350MPS, given the state of our
• not electing a new President whenever the office of President becomes
vacant in the next 10 years and leaving this crucial decision to a political
• A Bill of Rights merely listing rights without effective mechanisms for
6. From the foregoing, there can only be one answer: the crusade for a new,
democratic and people-driven constitution has to continue. The NCA will
intensify its efforts for a rejection of the so-called new Constitution just
as it has, for over 14 years, campaigned for the rejection of the Lancaster
House Constitution. Given its experience and its growing base, the NCA
believes that it will take less time for the people of Zimbabwe to be
convinced to throw away the so-called new Constitution and introduce a truly
democratic and people-driven constitution.
7. The NCA dismisses, with the contempt it deserves, utterances by the
political leadership which indicate the 16 March, 2013 vote as historic. It
was not. It was a dark page in our history as it demonstrated the continuing
sickness of our society where people are taken for granted by politicians.
The two leaders, the President and the Prime Minister, exhibited lack of
principled and moral leadership: they know so well that the “YES” vote had
nothing to do with the constitution but they have the temerity to proclaim
it as historic. It is this kind of leadership which has brought our country
down. If the two of them genuinely believe that the “YES” vote was on the
constitution, then their heads must be examined! We believe they are not
8. The NCA will, in the next few months, convene meetings of its membership,
including its Congress, to review its strategies and map the way forward. In
this regard, the NCA is conscious of the fact that the purported “Yes” vote
of 16 March, 2013 has a fundamental bearing on the future strategies of the
NCA. Accordingly, the NCA membership will decide whether or not the current
NCA framework is suitable for the big battle that lies ahead. The battle
will be confrontational because we realise that a ZANU(PF) joined by the MDC
in hoodwinking the general public is a formidable enemy of our quest for a
new, democratic, open, prosperous, just and caring society. The two
political formations have no monopoly in determining the destiny of our
country. From the credible base built over the years, the NCA will double
its efforts to win the hearts and minds of the people of Zimbabwe. One
immediate practical step is that this Press Statement will be printed as a
flier, translated into all main languages and distributed throughout the
country. We will not rely solely on Press coverage. In addition, the NCA “NO
VOTE” campaign flier will be edited merely to remove the words “VOTE NO” and
printed again and distributed. Our campaign against the so called New
Constitution will be permanent and will only stop when our country adopts a
truly democratic and people-driven constitution. The new NCA strategies will
be finalised by the time a new government takes office in July and will be
announced publicly within a month of the taking of office of that
9. We reject as nonsensical the claim by some MDC leaders that what remains
now is to build a culture of constitutionalism. Constitutionalism cannot be
built on the base of an undemocratic constitution. More seriously, does
constitutionalism not start with a credible constitution-making process?
Once we start with the culture of not respecting the people by asking them
to vote “Yes” to a document they have not seen, are we not undermining
constitutionalism from the start?
10. The NCA experience shows that it does not work to rely on others to push
for what one believes in. The NCA shall rely on itself to do everything
possible to ensure that one day we celebrate the adoption of a truly
democratic and people-driven constitution.
11. We urge the people of Zimbabwe, including those who voted “YES” to take
time to read the so called new Constitution and thereafter take further time
to consider our arguments against the Draft Constitution. This will enhance
democratic growth and ensure that the next referendum on a Draft
Constitution will be legitimate.
12. We accept that the country must now move to the election and urge
Zimbabweans to vote peacefully.
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