Zimbabwe's Lancaster Constitution No Longer An Option

Speaking to journalists here, the chairperson for for the national association for non governmental organisations in Zimbabwe, (NANGO), Dadirai Chikwengo, said politicians had not made it clear on what will happen if Zimbabweans rejected the constitution which was being written.

 “As civic society we want the politicians to understand that if this process fails, we do not know where we will go to, but we are not going to the Lancaster one. We can not keep on going back to the Lancaster one. Maybe we will operate without a constitution,” Chikwengo said

While the Referendum Act states that people will vote yes or no, Nango national Chairperson said that if the yes or no referendum is used then it’s not clear where Zimbabwe will head to.

“History has taught us that if we vote yes or no for a whole constitution we will not go anywhere because if it is voted no we will not know where exactly we will have gone wrong. It is better that we have an issue based referendum where people will vote for issues.”

Chikwengo said it was also not clear on how data currently being gathered for the new constituttion will be reconciled as there was a lot of information being captured. She said the civic society was pushing that they also be involved in the writing of the draft.

When Zimbabwe became independent in 1980 it adopted a constitution negotiated at Lancaster House in London, as part of a peace agreement ending years of a protracted war. The constitution has been amended 19 times.

Chikwengo also said civic society was not happy with the lack of progress by the national healing Organ. She said, “The organ should have asked civil society and churches to help so that progress could have been made. We should have started with the healing before any other process.”

Zimbabweans were also not ready for an election, she said. ” If you talk about elections in Zimbabwe people shiver because at the moment elections in Zimbabwe means fear, torture, intimidation, running away from your own house and country. ” That is why we wanted a conducive environment before any elections,” she added.