Zimbabwe’s constitutional amendment a fight against foreign interference

An unemployed man reads up on Zimbabwean constitutional law to understand the process of possible presidential impeachment, in a park opposite the parliament building in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe should acknowledge the nation's "insatiable desire" for a leadership change and resign immediately, the recently fired vice president and likely successor to the 93-year-old leader said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

I am fascinated by the current debate around our interim constitutional amendment and I am left wondering if that constitution was ever the will of the people.

By Rutendo Bereza Matinyarare

Many Zimbabweans, fail to appreciate that when laws are made to govern a people, people can only adhere to them if the laws are aligned to the customs, values, norms, standards and will of the people.

However, when foreign interests or minority interests interfere with the creation of a nation’s laws, such laws soon become alien and often prejudicial to the masses, causing people to question their legitimacy. In response, some may seek to change them and realign them with local customs and if that fails, people often rebel against the laws and state as we saw in former African colonies.

It is for this reason why people like myself keep stressing that the fight against sanctions is critical to avoid our laws being made by outsiders.

The fact is, sanctions are a form of economic coercion (or war) that is used mainly by current or former colonial powers to ensure that the policies and laws in their former colonies or current colonies remain conducive for them to exploit a people and their territory.

This is why western sanctions on Zimbabwe are accompanied by conditions and reforms focused on influencing our laws, shaping our property rights, diluting decolonization policies to maintain western hegemony upon our country and electoral reforms under sanctions, to facilitate regime change.

Suffice to say, such interference in a sovereign nation is illegal according to the UN Charter, because it is tantamount to colonialism, thus, our fight against economic coercive measures or sanctions is:

1. a fight for the sovereignty of our nation,

2. a fight against foreign interference in our democracy,

3. a fight for Zimbabweans to have the democratic rights to free and fair elections, so that citizens can freely elect the representatives they feel can fully represent them in making our national laws and holding the executive to account.

4. More critically, its a fight for our public representatives to make our laws based on our national interest, majority will, the people’s mandate, culture and not duress from foreign actors.

Ensuring the elimination of foreign interference (by sanctions and other tools of hegemony) in our democracy, is the only way to avoid never ending amendments to our laws, people ignoring those laws because they don’t adhere to the will of the people or people ultimately just resorting to anarchy.

The unfortunate challenge we face when we ignore illegal coercion by sanctions imposed by foreigners, is foreign sanctions senders will use sanctions to exert duress and force our people to vote for the political party of the sanctions senders choice.

The moment their chosen political party is elected by the coercion of sanctions and their MPs are in parliament, they are henceforth enjoined to make laws that suit the sanctions senders who assisted them to get into power, instead of making laws for the people.

The result is the will of the people is no longer electing our law makers and in turn our law makers begin to make laws for foreigners and not the people.

This is colonialism in another form and it leads to never ending iterations (changes) to laws and in the worst case, anarchy, when people can’t relate to these foreign laws.

If we are a sovereign state and want to avoid such chopping and changing of our supreme law, we should ensure that our laws are made for us, by us and not for foreigners, by foreigners.

This means, anyone seeking true democracy in Zimbabwe, must fight foreign interference upon our democracy: electoral process and law making.

Such foreign influence comes in the form of MPs taking instructions or mandates from foreign governments or in Zimbabwe’s case, sanctions and colonial era reforms being thrust upon our public representatives, which short circuits our sovereignty and democracy.

The constitutional amendment we are seeing now, is a direct result of the fact that our current constitution was a product of foreign influence in the creation of the 2009 Government of National Unity.

i) It was a GNU created under the threat of foreign intervention, after violent run off elections in 2008, which President Mugabe won and then he refused to speak to The Elders (Mandela, Koffi Annan and Gracia among others) who were tasked by western powers to negotiate the inclusion of their opposition proxies in governing Zimbabwe.

After being ignored by Mugabe, the elders informed Gideon Gono that they were writing a report to the UN Security Council, which would open room for NATO military intervention in Zimbabwe, unless Mugabe acquiesced to the inclusion of the opposition in a new government.

ii) All this was the aftermath of the disarsterous 2008 elections that were held under the unfree and unfair environment of an economic war (sanctions) that collectively punished Zimbabweans, to force them to vote for the same opposition. In retaliation, those on the receiving end of the economic war, then used violence to counter-attack the use of sanctions to coerce voters not to vote for them.

iii) As a result, the current constitution was crafted by a COPAC (Constitutional Parliamentary Comittee) constituted of MPs elected to parliament by economic terrorism (sanctions) that forced some people to vote for them, alongside, MPs elected by the will of the people and those elected by violence.

iv) It was also written under the unmistakable coercion of the same sanctions.

v) MPs who had been sponsored to win the unfree and unfair elections through the sanctions of the sanctions senders, had to now make contributions to the constitution, that suited the sanctions senders.

vi) On the other side, those who ascended by violence or the will of the people, were under duress to make laws that would appease the sanctions senders to remove sanctions.

So in short, COPAC wrote a constitution for the sanctions senders and not the Zimbabwean people. This is evidenced by the dissonance displayed by most Zimbabweans on the issues of white farmer compensation and the fact that MPs who leave the party that brought them to parliament, could lose their seats in parliament, yet all these rules are in that same constitution people agreed to by referendum.

Nevertheless, after the drafting of this foreign influenced constitution, Zimbabweans failed to get sanctions removed and now we are seeing the current amendments to align the constitution with the will of our law makers (parliamentarians) who represent the people.

If those public representatives do not make these laws in line with the will of the people, as some are suggesting, at least we have the right to debate, challenge and intellectually push our law makers to change these laws, as has been done with various other statutory instruments in Zimbabwe.

And if that fails, people have the option of approaching the courts and as a last resort, simply resisting the laws until they are realigned to our national interest, values and customs. That is how the democratic process is meant to function, free from outside interference.

Rutendo Bereza Matinyarare of ZASM.