Monday 6 August 2007

The Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
December 5, 1999
By Itayi Viriri

Harare - Former Rhodesian prime minister,
Ian Smith, has dismissed the draft constitution, which was
recently presented to President Robert
Mugabe, as a monumental fraud whose sole purpose is to
serve the interests of the ruling Zanu PF

His sentiments were echoed by Zanu Ndonga's
Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, who said a fair and just
constitution could only be crafted if
Zimbabweans rejected the present draft in next year's referendum
and instead, support the National
Constitutional Assembly which is running a parallel
constitution-drafting exercise. Sithole, a
founding member of Zanu, together with Bishop Abel
Muzorewa and the Patriotic Front led by
President Mugabe and the late Vice-President, Joshua
Nkomo, helped draft the Lancaster House
constitution in England, in 1979.

Since then that constitution has been
amended 15 times by Zanu PF, most notably in 1987 when
Eddison Zvobgo, as minister of justice,
created the office of the all-powerful executive president at
the time of the Unity Accord. The Standard
caught up with Smith at his Belgravia home, to get his
views on the constitution-making process, or
"fiasco", as he preferred to call it. Asked if he had studied
the draft, his curt answer was: "I have
better things to do with my time."

The former prime minister ruled Rhodesia for
almost 15 years and acquired at least as much
executive power as Mugabe wields today. He
dismissed the reform process long ago, when Mugabe
mandated the 400 commissioners, mostly from
Zanu PF, to draft a democratic constitution back in
May. The outspoken and at times, irascible
Smith, said that from the beginning the whole process
had been a total fraud since the ruling
party was not about to allow itself be removed from power.

Said Smith: "Did you really think that Zanu
PF were going to accept a constitution that did not
perpetuate their grip on power, or any new
statutes that could result in them losing power at the next
elections?" He added: "We have here a
classical one-party dictatorship that does not intend to give
up power any time soon. These people have a
lot of dark secrets, such as the human rights abuses
they have committed and they know that once
they relinquish power or are thrown out, the people of
this country will take them straight to

According to the old champion of white
supremacy, the possibility that the final draft constitution had
been written before the commission had
decided what it should contain was appalling considering
the amount of time and millions of
taxpayers' dollars wasted by the exercise. He said that for things to
change, the onus was now on the opposition
and the people of Zimbabwe, who felt they had been
hoodwinked and their submissions and views,
ignored, to unite and reject the draft.

"The time has come for a peaceful but
forceful revolution, and the people have to stop complaining
and do something about their dire situation
brought about by two decades of misrule. The obvious
start should be to reject the constitution
in this proposed referendum," Smith said.

Said the Rev. Sithole: "Our people are
desperate. They need to be able to control their destiny and
how they are governed through a democratic
constitution they can call their own. A true constitution
will reflect the people's aspirations. What
they have been given goes nowhere in fulfilling that."

The veteran politician also voiced the
concern of the common people, who had made their
submissions during the outreach programmes
in their own languages.

"Really, how do you explain to the people,
that their constitution has been crafted in English, yet
most of the people made their submissions in
Shona or Ndebele. This obviously left the draft
vulnerable to manipulation by interested
parties during the translation and interpretation stage."

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