@JAMWANDA2 ON SATURDAY – PVO: Losing a billion that never was!
All set for the plebiscite now
So the false furore over the Delimitation Report is now over, what with the submission of Final Report to the State President yesterday by ZEC chairperson, Judge Priscilla Chigumba?
There was visible relief on her face, after the long-drawn out, fraught ritual; but there was also a glint of satisfaction that critical timelines had been met to make the Report a governing document for the 2023 harmonised polls. That done, contesting parties can now get down to the business of canvassing for support, winning in peace and peacefully in the case of Zanu PF, and losing sourly and with much same bicker, in the case of Chamisa and his Triple C!
A Nation with powerful ill-wishers
Peace is the one commodity we dare not lose. Or be made to lose by anyone, whether at home or abroad. Zimbabwe is not short of ill-wishers who daily pray that her electoral processes be enough “causa belli” for drawn-out internecine conflict. Or an excuse for reversing her gains and standing in the comity of Nations.
All those ill-wishers, singly and jointly, are only too keen to fish in troubled waters, and to magnify any missteps, however minute or commonplace in such processes. We would only be too foolish to oblige them, in some kind of perverse national self-immolation.
We would only be clever to confound them, in some act of final assertion of mature, independent African statehood.
Time for reflection
With the Delimitation dust now settled, a sober reflection is not inappropriate. One cannot dirty waters that are already under and past the bridges. Rivers never fly upstream, except by divine motive force. So we cannot muddy the bygone. Not even big fishes of the ocean can do so on its vast waters, their little farts barely passing enough for a minuscule bubble in the vast deep.
Very good account given the odd
First, going by the agitation — almost even in intensity and in pitch — from both the ruling Party and opposition parties, the Preliminary Delimitation report, it would appear, had imperfections that barely passed for the fatal.
That is to say it was a very good attempt, as good as any, considering it was the first ever one such, executed under the new 2013 Constitution. Considering it came hard on the heels of the Preliminary Census Report. Yes, considering it kneaded together the old and the new, by way of Commissioners who comprised ZEC itself.
Above all, considering that it sought to impose method and shape to tumultuous demographic and spatial changes and movements which occurred since the last Delimitation Report, done a mere seven years into our historic Land Reform Programme which vastly redrew human settlements.
The exercise itself was carried out in an environment of polarised, insistent politics. All this is to say, Zimbabwe, post the 2007 last Delimitation Report, is another country, another people, another social temperament!
When negativity confirms impartiality
Whilst it might sound negative, nay cynical, still the point must be made: the fact that all contestants had something to raise in respect of the Preliminary Report, actually vindicated the effort, and confirmed its even-handedness. Well done ZEC, singly and as a body-corporate, whatever incited and instigated fissures which expressed themselves towards the end of the process.
A good organisation must be tensile enough to handle and accommodate all strains and stresses that come its way! Equally, a good leader never crumble under the weight of dissensions, largely false!
Difficulties which might have been
Save for the sobriety with which events surrounding the Preliminary Report was handled, Zimbabwe could have easily slid into a situation of legal and even sporadic political conflict. Potentially, both could have easily been made to take on the whiffs and aura of constitutional undertones, much as there was nothing constitutional in the vigorous debate which ensued.
To suggest that the Preliminary Report, and the response to it, risked a constitutional crisis, as some have emotively averred, is to misread an emotion so natural and endemic to such a process.
The Constitution clearly resolves
The 2013 Constitution is clear enough: it provides a fallback position in the event of incomplete delimitation process. And incompleteness could be substantive or a mere technicality arising from tight timelines provided for in the Constitution. Secondly, it vests final say in ZEC, but without necessarily castrating the Executive, thus rendering it awkwardly impotence.
The Constitution empowers ZEC to consider suggestions from Parliament and from the President, as best they can or see appropriate and prudent. They can uphold this or that set of concerns from both the President and Parliament, or set aside frets from both, wholly or in part. Of course the latter would be impolitic, but still perfectly permissible under the law.
Executive authority and negative power
By the same measure, the Executive — in the form and person of the President — can use dilation to communicate disagreement and displeasure with ZEC’s decision as encapsulated in final Delimitation Report. The effect of such a stance would be to delay submission, thus rendering nugatory the whole Delimitation exercise for purposes of the forthcoming elections!
Where failure would have been costly
As events would have it, neither side felt it prudent to invoke and exercise such negative powers each wields potentially, thus enabling a constructive conversation around the initial Delimitation Report, all in the National Interest! No one would have been served by a return to the dated 2007 Delimitation Report, in setting out boundaries for an election occurring a vast sixteen years, about, later; and under a new Constitution, under a new Dispensation, under a new, confirmed Demography and, worst of all, under new institutional delimitation arrangements to be executed by a largely new or reconstituted ZEC!
All that could have been achieved had events taken such an unfortunate turn, would have been to make the whole plebiscite some futile, fixture-fulfilling exercise serving no real political purpose or progress.
The Madhuku Thunder, fictive Drama
Forget about legal threats which followed the submission of the preliminary report, and only helped to make muddy the waters muddier. Who was going to sue a process before it started? Who was going to take Parliament to Court anyway, without looking churlishly unschooled on and at law?
Cleverly, Professor Madhuku petitioned Parliament, of course spicing that petition with an impotent threat of a writ! And a petition to Parliament is anybody’s right to any process still underway. But it’s not a writ, or precursor to one! Of course our drama-hungry and remarkably rudimentary media fell for the empty thunder which the rumbustious Professor snookered.
That was alright, some light-hearted diversion to our comedy-starved Nation! But that’s as far as it went!
But there are serious issues which the next Executive — a Zanu PF one — might need to consider, possibly address.
Not just for ZEC but for all our Constitutional Bodies, there has to be clarity at law on how matters and decisions of Commissions should be handled in the event of a split or splits, as happened in ZEC. We cannot rely on case law for resolution, whether from here or elsewhere.
Even codes of conduct for Commissioners must be clear, so the very people who make up Commissions do not end up costing the same Commissions they run hard-earned reputations built over years. Or create paralysis on chores that are time-sensitive.
In any event, the patchwork approach to constituting our Commissions, makes conflict and not consensus on key issues more likely. In a number of our Commissions, nominations come from various interest groups who include political parties, for consideration by the Standing Rules and Orders Committee of Parliament.
The President also has a hand on appointments, as does various specialised groups, including professional bodies. Why then should our statutes discount divisions or even conflict?
Delimitation versus Elections Management
Second, our Constitutional experts may need to revisit the clause which makes the Delimitation Exercise a responsibility of the EMB, the Election Management Body, ZEC in this case! As matters stood and played out, ZEC could have easily moved to the next phase of managing elections on a limp — besmirched and be-splattered by dirty mud thrown at it from saucy reactions from the political society to its delimitation exercise.
Worldwide, delimitation processes are always which is messy; fraught with de-census! Worse could have happened: someone could have taken ZEC to court, thus derailing it from its tight timelines! Do we really want our EMB to be caught up in such a mess?
I think not! ZEC sorely needs to be protected so it does not appear to approach the business of managing elections with “a dirty hand”, so to speak!
Vesting Final Say outside the Executive
Penultimately, vesting the final say on the Delimitation exercise in a non-executive body, never mind its Constitutional provenance, is not good governance, in my humble view. After all, the law admits to the inevitability of imperfections (otherwise why would both Parliament and the President be invited to make corrective submissions?).
Such an approach makes for more conflict in an already conflict-ridden electoral business. Equally, one is not too sure on the workability of tight timelines which the Constitution imposes, often at the expense of realism and thoroughness.
Do, get damned; don’t, still get damned!
Lastly, the set of criteria enjoined on Delimiting Authority — whatever it ends up being — do in some respects work at cross purposes.
For instance, the mandatory 20 percent flat differential between voter population in any constituency is quite hard to implement together with land-marked spatial boundaries, let alone with the overly sensitive criterion of community interest. Of course the delimiting authority need to be tethered to any one, or to all of them in every situation.
However, this makes any outcome assailable on any of criteria provided for in the Constitution!
A new law for Voluntary Organisations
So the Private and Voluntary Organisation Bill has now sailed through Senate, our Upper House? What it means is the course is now clear for the Bill to become an Act of Parliament, and thus the law of this Land. It enjoyed support of the whole of Parliament, meaning no one can invoke party politics in deriding it.
NGOs were given enough time to lobby; they actually did, including futilely lobbying foreigners and foreign governments who don’t make laws in Zimbabwe! Everyone was heard; everyone with concerns aired them. In the end, a good law was the outcome; it got passed by Parliament.
That closes the matter. For now. Those still feeling aggrieved are free to test the new law in our courts; good luck to them!
I heard some hare-brained claims from some political NGO that Zimbabwe stood to lose upward of a Billion dollars because of the new law! This vile Foreign Governmental Organisation, FONGO, claims this stupendous figure is the revenue these FONGOs brought into the country!
Of course the dimwit who released that monumental figure forgot he was dollarising the cost of foreign subversion in Zimbabwe, through these FONGOs! Arguably the only patriotic thing this bloke has done for our Nation, since his seizure by the sellout spirit of Nyati, the archetypal figure of betrayal from our struggle days.
So where are the billions?
It would be very interesting to challenge the FONGO officer to take us around the country and show us where and to whom the billion yearly goes. Or why with such a fabulous budget handled and managed by punctilious do-gooders, the poor are still with us in Zimbabwe!
I doubt the conversation will barely go beyond SUVs, some vast mansions purchased here and abroad, and of course some fat account stashed somewhere in different metropoles. They have been eating for Zimbabwe’s poor, these fat cats on foreign payroll!
Geldof, Coca Cola and dead Ethiopians
Maybe it’s little education, which is always very dangerous. The question of whether or not FONGOs aid development in Third World countries was conclusively debated and settled in the 1970s and throughout the 1980s.
The verdict was keenly clear: FONGOS don’t aid any poor in the Third World. Quite the contrary, they perpetuate or even create photogenic poverty so they raise more money in the name of the poor. Not many of these local urchins who man these FONGOs know how Bob Geldof and Coca Cola made billions on Ethiopia’s poor and starving, only to vanish soon after, leaving many cadavers and human carrion in the veld, too unsightly and too African to be buried even.
Avaunt and quit, you Evil!
The latest round of the same ruse is playing out yet again in the Horn of Africa, where war and drought are on another grim harvest, with plumb and ravenous FONGO officials hovering over the dying and dead on their 4x4s.
They have perfected Charles Dickens’ modest philosophy in Hard Times: pity would be no more if the poor and hungry were not with us! Here at home, USAID says it will stop paying out to these FONGOs! USAID expects us to wail over this withdrawn benevolence!
Get behind us Evil!
Until you humans know that donkeys survive from season to season without any FONGOs, I declare that muchasvinura!