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Dear Family and Friends,
Almost exactly thirteen years after Zimbabwe was last faced with a proposed new constitution we are back in the same place again. Parliament has just approved a draft constitution that gobbled up a massive forty five million US dollars. Amazingly, despite four years of acrimonious arguments, intimidation, disputes and threats, there were apparently no dissenting voices from any MP’s in the House of Assembly when the draft was presented. Right up to only three weeks ago there had been complete deadlock, meetings were ending in failure and the two main political parties were blaming each other for the stalemate. Then suddenly, in just one day, all that disappeared and now both the MDC and Zanu PF say they are going to recommend a YES vote for the constitution when it goes to a national referendum.
Just as they did for the February 2000 constitutional referendum, the NCA (National Constitutional Assembly) have come out guns blazing and immediately issued a press statement giving 24 reasons why they were going to campaign for a NO vote in the referendum expected in a few weeks time.
Most ordinary Zimbabweans have not yet seen the draft constitution so they don’t know if the things they said at the outreach meetings have made it into the final draft or if they’ve been bargained away by the country’s political leaders. Others in a number of towns, mine included, had interrupted, shortened or cancelled constitutional outreach meetings back in 2010 when rowdy youths arrived in numbers and disrupted the gatherings making sure peoples voices were silenced or left them scared to air their views. That is now apparently not important. With just weeks before a referendum it is still not known if the estimated three million Zimbabweans in the diaspora will be allowed to vote from outside the country or if the multiple thousands of born and permanently resident, tax-paying Zimbabweans who have been struck off the voters roll in recent years will be allowed to vote on the proposed constitution.
One day after it was announced that Parliament had unanimously approved the draft constitution, the media carried reports that the Zimbabwe government had asked the UNDP for two hundred and fifty million US dollars in order to hold the referendum and elections that will follow. The appeal to the UNDP comes before it is even known if any western countries will be allowed to observe Zimbabwe’s two trips to the polls in 2013. Will this be another case of: ‘we’ll take the money but you can’t watch how we spend it?’ Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.
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