NPC petition Mnangagwa to postpone 2018 elections - unconstitutional and dangerous suggestion

NPC petition Mnangagwa to postpone 2018 elections - unconstitutional and dangerous suggestion
Published: 28 November 2017 (714 Views)
"The convention held under the auspices of a gathering of civil society organisations, labour unions and churches, provided the new President with a varied range of issues he may need to attend to as he formulates his government," reported The Zimbabwean.
"In our view, your commitment to inclusivity would best be epitomized by the formation of an inclusive government. Such a government will go a long way towards fostering national unity, social cohesion as well as enhance our national prospects for economic recovery. The nation has endured many years of divisive politics and unnecessary polarization. We believe that this must change and can change under your able leadership," argued National People's Convention (NPC) in their letter to President Mnangagwa.

There can be no question that all those involved in the NPC mean well and have the best interests of the nation at heart. Still, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. NPC's intentions and noble but, nonetheless, totally misguided!

The argument that we need an inclusive government for economic recovery, peace, national unity, etc. is pandering to the same warped logic used to justify the stifling of public debate, freedom of expression and free press, democratic competition, etc. resulting in the creation of a de facto one past dictatorship we have today.

Zanu PF's culture of rigging the vote and use of blatant violence have made it near impossible for a meaningful and competent opposition to emerge. In the present parliament, there is little more than a token opposition, the MDC MPs and the one independent MP are hardly ever heard. To then suggest that even this flickering opposition flame should be co-opted to join Zanu PF in an inclusive administration is snuff out this democratic light leaving us all in total dictatorial darkness.

God only knows just how strong Zanu PF is already given the party's nearly 75% majority in parliament, its total control of all the State Institutions, the dominance purely Zanu PF created undemocratic bodies such as Joint Operation Command and all the party's other dictatorial powers. The party will gain very little from having the opposition under its wing; it is the nation instead that will lose the only means to hold the regime to account.

"We believe that a well thought-out transitional period and mechanism would offer the nation sufficient time to establish a conducive environment for free, fair and credible elections," NPC argue.

NPC profess to upholding the rule of law and yet the members are encouraging the disregard of one of the central constitutional demands that the parliamentary term must not exceed five years.

"A general election must be held so that polling takes place not more than thirty days before the expiry of the five-year period." States the constitution section 158 (1) (a).

To argue that the fixed maximum term should be exceeded "to establish a conducive environment" is a frivolous and flawed argument given that there has not been a change of government since the last elections. Putting aside the undemocratic events of the last three weeks resulting in the swearing in of President Mnangagwa; no one can ever dispute that the government before and after the coup is a Zanu PF government.

If the Zanu PF government cannot carry out its constitutional duty to hold free and fair elections on time then it must say so. It will be for the nation; not NPC, Zanu PF or anyone else; to decide what is to be done to move the nation forward.

It should be remembered that both Zanu PF and MDC leaders were in the last GNU that failed to implement even one democratic reform in five years to ensure free and fair elections, hence the reason why we are still in this pickle. What makes NPC believe they will implement the reforms this time even if we allowed them to postpone the elections!

Postponing elections, like staging a coup, is unlawful and the nation must be careful of setting downright dangerous precedence.

It would have been useful to the nation had NPC directed its time, effort and resources to helping build a democratic Zimbabwe by helping dismantle the Zanu PF dictatorship by asking President Mnangagwa to relinquish Zanu PF's control of the public media, for example. A free and vibrant media is vital in a healthy and functioning democracy; government has no business telling editors what to write! NPC would be applauded if it had reminded President Mnangagwa that none of the democratic reforms the last GNU were tasked to implement ever saw the light of day. His presidency would be judged a failure if he failed to get all the reforms implemented BEFORE the next elections!

It is not for NPC or anyone else to tell President how to do his job much less encourage him to break the law but to hold him to democratic account if he should fail to deliver on something as basic and fundamental as holding free, fair and credible elections on time!

- Nomusa Garikai

Tags: NPC, ZanuPF, Mnangagwa,

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