Let’s defend our Constitution

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LAST week, Parliament embarked on Constitutional Amendment No 2 Bill public hearings across the country. The Bill, among other things, intends to amend the Constitution Zimbabweans overwhelmingly endorsed in 2013.

Among the amendments include the removal of presidential election running mates to elect vice presidents, the empowering of the president to appoint prosecutor-general, increasing the tenure of women’s quota in Parliament by a further 10 years, introduce a youth quota in the august House, and also empowering the head of State to extend a term of a judge after reaching retirement age.

The civic society and political parties have legitimately opposed some of the amendments on the strength that they sought to consolidate power into the office of the president, a negation to constitutional democracy that guarantees checks and balances.

They argued that some of the amendments, especially the presidential running mates, wanted to be scrapped from the supreme law before its implementation; gestation and efficacy have been tested.

The current government, they averred, wanted the abrogation of the clause to manage the succession politics in the ruling Zanu PF party where the State president will have to handpick his deputies after an election based on loyalty and cronyism, instead of the electorate in general election.

The same applies on the appointment of the prosecutor-general. The current Constitution demands that candidates for the post must be subjected to public interviews and then the Judicial Service Commission will recommend top candidates for the post to the president. The suggested amendment would do away with that process, giving the president the power to unilaterally appoint any one of his choice.

It is apparent that the government is abandoning what the people of Zimbabwe overwhelmingly adopted when they endorsed the current Constitution to suit the desires of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu PF, which has the mandatory two thirds majority to do whatever it desires to tinker with the supreme law.

What should be the urgency now to amendment the Constitution, which on paper is one of the best in the world, but aligning statutory laws to the Constitution.

Zimbabweans should participate in the public hearings to oppose the haste in which the government wants to railroad the Bill and to defend democracy.

 

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