Residents and civil organisations have rejected President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s proposed constitutional amendments, saying they posed a threat to civil and political rights and sought to revive the legacy of the Lancaster House Constitution.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
The Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe, a grouping of human rights civic organisations, said amendments to the Constitution adopted in 2013 after a wide consultative process was betrayal of people’s wishes.
“Zimbabwe is at risk of sliding into a de facto one-party state where the ruling party has the sole discretion to determine the governance of this country,” the lobby group said in a statement released yesterday.
“The gains made through the new Constitution of 2013 risk becoming moot if these amendments sail through.”
Parliament is currently holding public hearings on proposals to amend the Constitution through Constitutional Amendment Bill No 2.
Mnangagwa’s government has proposed 27 amendments to the Constitution. The ruling party wants the clause on presidential running mates scrapped to give the President the full authority to appoint his deputies.
The President also wants to appoint judges of the High, Supreme and Constitutional courts and extend the retirement age of the judges from 70 to 75. Powers of Parliament in oversighting international borrowing would also be curtailed, among other changes.
Civic organisations, particularly the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, ZimRights and Veritas, among others, have raised concern over the decision to amend a Constitution before some sections have been implemented to check if they work or not.
Citizens who participated at the hearings last week have roundly rejected the amending of the Constitution before it is fully implemented. The hearings went ahead despite concerns over COVID-19 lockdown measures.
The Institute of Young Women Development (IYWD) said most people who wanted to express their views about the proposed amendments, “only serving the interests of the executive” have expressed concern at the timing of the hearings when people’s movements are restricted.
“We reiterate our rejection of Constitutional Amendment Bill no 2 in its entirety. We instead demand for the urgent implementation of our 2013 Constitution,” IYWD said in a statement.