Thursday, August 12, 2010

(HERALD) Envisaged fundamentals of Zim’s new constitution

Envisaged fundamentals of Zim’s new constitution
By Albert Nhamoyebonde

AS the days go by and with teams soliciting for views from villages and other areas throughout the country, I find myself wondering whether the outcome will actually capture, what I would call, the fundamental issues facing our nation. How are we going to define our country in this constitution? What comes to mind is the liberation ethos of this country.

There can never be any basis for this new constitution except that this country was liberated by force of arms and so many died for all of us living today. Some may find this an unacceptable pretext to justify their claim to power.

How then can a constitution capture that ethos? May I digress and explain what I mean by relating the USA basis of their constitution? They wanted to safeguard their independence from Britain like we also want to do.

For two hundred years of their independence, no one was elected president unless he wore an army uniform to liberate the country or afterwards, unless he had fought in a war to safeguard their independence or to preserve their sovereignty in any subsequent wars, like world wars or war in Vietnam and elsewhere.

The only departure from that came when Bill Clinton was elected president and later Barak Obama. The two never wore an army uniform. But John McCain, who was defeated by Obama, wore the army badge of honour in his campaign as one who would defend the USA as president. This is to show that service to the country in any war still resonates in the USA politics.

Coming to Zimbabwe, should service in the liberation war still remain the criteria for one to assume the presidency of this country to preserve the liberation ethos of the country? Will that define this country?

How then can this be preserved in a democratic environment? Well, take the example of the USA. Whether the president comes from the Republican party or the Democratic party, he had to have a war record and credentials for the past two hundred years until recently.

If the liberation ethos becomes the basic nature of our constitution, then any party in Zimbabwe that wants to put up a candidate for the presidency should have a candidate with the war of liberation credentials.

This would exclude many from the body politic who may be pretenders to the throne of the presidency. This means parties shall be guided by the war of liberation credential ethos of the country.

There has been debate recently to allow politicians from various parties to play major roles at national events.

What comes to mind is that they are trying to identify with the liberation ethos of the nation. Is that enough or more credentials are required or expected from them?

How can the liberation ethos be written into a constitution? Some may argue that, except for those in the security services, the rank and file do not anymore subscribe to wearing an army uniform even the children of those involved in the liberation war.

How then can this legacy be carried from generation to generation if so many shun the army uniform. Or to put it another way, there is no call up or national service which is mandatory in other countries for young people to identify with defence of their country.

If we adopt the war of liberation as a guiding principle in our constitution, then, there should be a need for the creation of a Council of State made up of senior citizens with liberation war credentials that will vet any candidates for the highest office in the land.

They will disqualify anyone without the war of liberation credentials. The country should have one at the top who the army will respect. But is this possible when so many have moved away from identifying with the war of liberation? Most children of those with war credentials are scattered all over the world looking for greener pastures.

In China, they have a military commission that approves those who sit in the Politburo from which a president is chosen. In Iran, it is the Guadian Council. In many countries it is what they call the establishment that vets those for high office. All this is done behind the scenes in such countries like the UK, Russia etc.

When asked if an Obama could become prime minister in the UK, one top politician said that would never happen. Why, he was asked? Because the British establishment would not accept that situation.

What establishment? The politicians, army and aristocrats who make up the establishment that cuts across political divides. For example, despite winning elections with at least 100 seat majority, the establishment made Margaret Thatcher resign.

They call them the men in, "grey suits". They did the same to Tony Blair, maybe, because of the war in Iraq. They have even set up an inquiry into that war even when it was approved by their parliament.

Zimbabwe has to create its own establishment that vets anyone aspiring for high office be it in the judiciary, foreign service, armed forces or political office.

Only then can we become a nation with an independence to safeguard and preserve for future generations. Therefore the constitution making is not a child’s paradise. We can solicit for views from whatever group but at the end of the day, a few shall sit down to define what this country stands for.

Whether it will be the war of liberation ethos or a full-blown democracy of free for all movement, only history and time will determine.



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