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Zimbabwe socialists: 15 reasons to vote ‘No’ to the draft constitution

The COPAC constitution is a negotiated and elitist peace charter by the three parliamentary political parties and their Western backers. Above the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai and ZANU-PF's Robert Mugabe at a meeting to discuss the draft constitution.

Statement by the International Socialist Organisation (Zimbabwe)

February 13, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For more than 15 years the people of Zimbabwe have demanded a new people-driven democratic constitution to replace the compromise and lop-sided 1979 Lancaster [House] constitution which, with convenient self-serving amendments by Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), has been the backbone of a dictatorial and increasingly neoliberal state. The people have demanded a constitution written by themselves in a democratic, participatory and gender-youth-disability balanced way. A constitution that ends the imperial executive presidency and guarantees democratic and accountable political governance and bread and butter socio economic rights. Thus the people rejected the 2000 Chidyausiku Draft Constitution [in an referendum] and the Kariba Draft Constitution.

However, what COPAC [Constitution Parliamentary Committee] has delivered, two years late and to gobble over $130 million, is a deeply flawed process and product. Contrary to earlier promises, the COPAC constitution is a negotiated and elitist peace charter by the three parliamentary political parties and their Western backers.

While gains have been made in relation to the inclusion of some socioeconomic, gender and labour rights, a deeper look at the COPAC draft shows that it fails to address fundamental issues of severe poverty, gender and social inequality, economic democratisation and full political democracy as shown in “15 reasons to vote no”, below.

In an era where 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI resigns citing advanced age, the COPAC draft allows an 89-year-old President Mugabe to potentially rule for another 10 years, until he is 99! It ensures maximum protection of private property, thereby preventing the possibility of using our diamonds, platinum, gold or banks to fulfill the declared socioeconomic rights of the people. Its real aim is to create a durable constitutional framework of intra-elite democracy and harmony in the face of potential huge revolts from below arising from economic crisis.

Thus the COPAC draft leaves substantially intact the iron fist of the executive imperial presidency to be used by the ruling classes to smash revolts from below as the crisis of capitalism locally and internationally worsens. To please the Western capitalist masters, the COPAC draft has scandalously omitted the peoples’ rights of economic empowerment, indigenisation and nationalisation of strategic resources, under workers’ and communities’ democratic control.

Further, it provides for compensation to white farmers and foreigners whose farms were expropriated, but without a cent for the ex-farm-workers who lost their jobs or land for urban housing. The draft will allow the ZANU-PF chiefs and generals to sell for a huge profit the multiple farms they have looted. To ensure this, the draft provides that the land chapter can only be amended after a 2/3 parliamentary majority and a constitutional referendum.

Workers are denied the right to a living wage, a real right to strike; civil servants denied full collective bargaining rights and their full citizenship rights. Women are denied rights to abortion, social grants, or 50-50 parity in jobs. Students are denied the right to education. There are no economic or empowerment rights for youths, women, the unemployed, farmers and informal sector. There is no right to recall corrupt or ineffective MPs or councillors, while it creates, per capita, the biggest parliament in Africa.

It is clear that the COPAC constitution is there to look after the interests of politicians, the rich, employers, capitalists and imperialists, i.e. the 1% of plutocrats or elites, but doing so in a deceptive manner that deludes working people that their interests too are covered. Vanorava mbwa vakaviga mupinyu!

The International Socialist Organisation calls for the urgent establishment of a united front of workers, working people, women, youths, students, rural farmers, the disabled, war veterans, socioeconomic justice activists, socialists and all democrats to spearhead a Vote No Campaign in the referendum on March 16, 2013. And beyond, to fight for a real people-driven constitution and against the Government of National Unity’s [ZANU-PF-Movement for Democratic Change] neoliberal agenda and system of capitalism, which is the real source of dictatorship and poverty.

Socialism is life! Reclaim your rights, vote No!

International Socialist Organisation, Harare

Signed Munyaradzi Gwisai, ISO Zimbabwe general coordinator

15 reasons to vote No to the COPAC draft constitution

Vote ‘No’ to this elitist peace charter and politicians’ gravy train. Vanoravambwa vakaviga mupinyu

  1. It was not written by you the people but by four leaders of the Government of National Unity (GNU) political parties.
  2. It’s not democratic! 33 years’ rule by one man is enough. It allows President Mugabe, 89, possibly to rule for another 10 years, when he will be 99! Zvanyanya He must retire. Even the Pope has, at 85.
  3. It does not provide funded and time-defined rights to: jobs, education, health, housing, water, food, electricity, public transport, rural development; disability; social security and empowerment. It does not provide basic rights but only progressive rights which are subject to claw-backs and availability of funds to the state but there are no provisions to enable the State to fund the declared rights.
  4. It’s not democratic! It retains the imperial executive president: “President wemasimba ose.” President appoints all cabinet ministers and most senior state, military and judicial officials; can unilaterally change laws, dissolve parliament or declare war. Provides no age limit. Allows current judges and AG Tomana to stay in office without vetting. No real devolution of power is provided for.
  5. It does not guarantee free and fair elections! The same June 2008 generals and judges will control the election process! No right to vote for the diaspora. No right to recall corrupt or ineffective councilors or MPs. No proportional representation of MPs. No quotas for workers, farmers, youths or war veterans.
  6. It is a politicians’ gravy train: has over 350 MPs, two vice presidents and an unlimited cabinet! It abolishes death penalty mainly for men over 70 years … who are these and why them alone? Abolish the death penalty for all! In 2011 it was the Zim 45 facing the death penalty for treason charges of watching the Egypt video, today it’s the GV 29 political prisoners … Free Maengahama and Ors … Drop the charges!
  7. There is no compensation for victims of past genocides, Gukurahundi, state violence like June 2008 and Murambatsvina. There is no transitional justice and punishment for perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
  8. It attacks workers: no living wage; no full right to strike; denies full collective bargaining for civil servants; prohibits civil servants and municipal workers from political activity; no protection of contract workers; no time limits for finalising labour disputes; no exclusive Labour Court.
  9. It attacks youths and students: no right to jobs, public work programs or economic empowerment; no right to education, grants or loans; no youth quotas in parliament/councils; no right to abortion.
  10. It attacks women: no 50-50% quotas in jobs for all public offices; no economic empowerment; no social grants and social security rights; no funded maternity pay/benefits for all women; no right to abortion.
  11. It attacks vendors and the informal sector: no right to trade or work without harassment; no economic empowerment; no social security benefits. It attacks and scapegoats minorities like gays and lesbians.
  12. It does not give land to the landless or for housing or compensation to ex-farm workers but specially protects the chiefs with many farms; and compensates ex-white and foreign Western farmers.
  13. It is preparation for another elite GNU after elections, bringing together ZANU-PF and MDC politicians, bosses and imperialists to make money and accelerate their policies of capitalism, ESAP [structural adjustment programs] and neoliberalism against workers, youths, women, farmers and the poor [“Eat what you hunt”].
  14. It totally defends the capitalist system and property of employers and the rich. There’s no nationalisation under workers’ and communities’ control of natural resources like diamonds, platinum, gold and major businesses to fund jobs, education, health, water, rural farmers etc. No empowerment or employee or community ownership schemes! It’s a constitution for politicians, employers and the rich: the 1% of plutocrats or elites, and not us the 99%, the ordinary people!
  15. No more half-backed promises of change or the crumbs COPAC is offering just because of elections. Politicians lie to get into power but once in office they forget the people and start looting. The COPAC constitution will cost over $130 million yet the South African one cost less than $30 million! Like the Lancaster one, this COPAC constitution will become permanent and enslave us and future generations. Politicians think they own the people, who will just blindly follow them … Stop them

Vote NO! Capitalism kills …. Socialism is life! Vote NO! Vote NO! Vote NO!

International Socialist Organisation (

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