3 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Let's Go for Polls As Our Constitution Stipulates

The New Year is upon us and if we are to go with our Constitution we should have elections by end of March as President Mugabe has said. There, however, seems to be no urgency among some of the three main political parties, that are deemed as such by virtue of the representation they have in Parliament, to go back to the people for a mandate even though the coalition Government has apparently outlived its tenure.

These are the parties that came together after the elections produced a hung Parliament to form a coalition Government that has been presiding over our affairs over the past five years. And by the parties' own admission the coalition has been largely dysfunctional as far as implementing Government policy though it has fostered greater political tolerance.

The mistake the parties in Government are making is behaving as if they are the only stakeholders on the political scene yet there are many other fringe parties that garnered votes though they failed to make it to Parliament. These parties, no doubt, want to put themselves up for acceptance or rejection at the polls.

There are many constituencies over 40 of them that are without representation following the demise or expulsion of incumbent legislators and these cry for elections so that they can choose their own representatives.

And the generality of Zimbabweans, no doubt, want to see the constitution they wrote during the outreach adopted as the supreme law. Having come out overwhelmingly to give their views to the outreach teams, we are sure many Zimbabweans wonder why a process that was supposed to last no more than 18 months, has dragged on for four years.

Why the views they expressed have to be substituted for so-called "international best practices"

It appears the constitution-making process is going the way of the talks that preceded it that ended up being derided as "talks about talks". It may be time to seriously consider holding the next elections under the current Constitution so that the process is not abused by parties dreading going to the people for a verdict.

Let the people choose their leaders and thereafter write the constitution without the spectre of elections as a distraction. As it is, some parties are keen to write a document that enhances their chances at the polls, but not a document for the people they purport to represent.

It's time to get on with elections using the current constitution and revisit the new constitution after the polls.

The nation can ill-afford the ongoing circus.

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