The Battle of National Sentiment versus Constitutionalism

Constitutionalism Over National Sentiment
Image Credit: Hindustan

“Zimbabwean politics will make you dizzy” Zororo Makamba, 2018.

When I first heard Zororo Makamba in one of his vlogs make this assertion, I laughed my lungs out. Not because the statement was meant to be a joke, but it was exactly the state I was in at that moment.

Since the emergence of tangible opposition politics in Zimbabwe we have always been in some sort of perennial election mode. Elections happen, the results are always disputed, and chaos consequently ensues. I’m not talking about your usual chaos; this type of chaos often involves loss of lives. Politicians will eventually kiss and make up, but what becomes of us as a people?

A desperate & confused people

Since the recent chaos that left dead bodies lying on the streets of Harare (may their souls rest in peace), there has been a lot of posts on social media of fellow citizens regretting ever endorsing the military operation that saw the end of Mugabe’s reign. The same set of my people at that time in November waved placards to the effect that President Edgar Lungu (who allegedly intended to intervene), SADC and AU should “leave us alone”, and that “we love our army” etc.

The same set of my people are today, furious at the same people and institutions for turning a blind eye. It is only logical to be furious at how Honourable Tendai Biti was reportedly “handled” by the Zambian authorities, but at the same time, it is only rational that we live by our convictions. This leaves me with a lot of questions;

  1. How excitable are we as a nation?
  2. How principled are we as a people?
  3. How do we expect to build a nation on a bedrock of illegitimacy?

The Bedrock of Illegitimacy

As the scars of economic and political destruction deepen, the tendency of giving up on the constitution and rule of the law is sadly evident, as we desperately allowed national sentiment to support lawlessness where we assumed it presented greener pastures i.e. Mugabe’s ousting.

National sentiment must NEVER prevail over rule of law.

This concept will continue to fuel the cycle of illegitimacy. Since the announcement of the election results, I have heard a lot of whispers blowing through the air. From “they must form a GNU”, “Advocate Chamisa MUST just let it go and wait for 2023” among many other feelings. These sentiments assume that the country will move forward progressively once we are out of election mode.

However, in midst of our suffering and desperate times, we must remember never to bypass the law.

I’m not sure if our constitution provides for a GNU if it doesn’t then it is a wrong precedent to allow all election losers the privilege to sneak into government, by arm-twisting winning candidates in whatever way, using whatever muscle they may assume to possess.

An article in a local newspaper on 8 August 2018 even suggested that Chamisa must avoid going to court because he risks “lending legal legitimacy to the poll result”. How that is even supposed to make sense defeats me. If a losing candidate feels they have a strong case, they want to challenge the result declaration, and most importantly it is within the provisions of the constitution then that process must be respected and consequently the decision. Despite Chamisa’s court case and it fatal end for the opposition, many an online judge had analysed Chamisa’s court application and concluded contrasting verdicts.

Some believe the Electoral Act was trampled upon on top of the alleged mathematical commissions and omissions by ZEC, while some have thrown it out as a waste of time. Special mention goes to activist cum politician who declared the case “incompetent at law” hardly 3 hours of the 250+ page court challenge being lodged and consequently availed to the public. The irony is that men and women of great legal esteem will need up to 14 days to come up with any determination. This is exactly what will you make you dizzy. What is inevitable, however, is that at some point, things will return to normal and our country will become economically functional once again. Are we ready?

Adapting To Change

Zimbabwe’s potential to prosper can never be doubted. Armed with significant mineral resources, arable and adorable human capital, we remain optimistic that our country will retain its economic status in the region. The biggest question remains whether we as a people are prepared to complement efforts that functional governance will bring with it. If we still believe in the power of corruption, negotiating “payment plans” with our service providers, evading tax, running unlicensed operations, not honouring our debts among other unethical mentalities, we will never see the Zimbabwe we yearn for!

Most countries that we view as progressive have a people that provide the pillar for their government’s programs not the other way around as we might believe. These people willingly service their loans, honour their tax dues and pay their bills.

This aspect of the importance of evolving mental strength for the nation’s prosperity will be discussed at length in the next article.

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