Amend recall legislation, say lawyers

Let us not make it a habit to amend the Constitution willy-nilly


CONSTITUTIONAL experts have called for the amendment of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution, saying recalls of legislators and councillors were an anathema to democracy.

Under the section, legislators can be recalled from Parliament through a letter written by a member or members of the political party which sponsored them to the Speaker of the National Assembly.

Recently, MDC Alliance deputy president Tendai Biti and opposition legislators Kucaca Phulu, Sichelesile Mahlangu, William Madzimure, Settlement Chikwinya and Regai Tsunga were recalled from Parliament by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on grounds they had ceased to represent the party because they had shown their allegiance to the MDC Alliance.

They had joined several other MDC Alliance legislators and councillors recalled in recent months by the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T.

However, the High Court yesterday ruled in favour of Biti and his five colleagues after it emerged that their recall was irregular.

Constitutional and civic society experts argued that the recalls of elected representatives were an affront to democracy.

“In their final remarks, most panellists recommended the need for a genuinely people-driven constitution with amendments instituted on the recall provision as well as other provisions which are an affront to democracy,” read minutes of the public webinar on “Political Recalls and Defections to Representative Democracy”.

The webinar, organised by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, brought together experts such as Lovemore Madhuku, former legislator and minister Gorden Moyo, former Harare mayor Jacob Mafume and Obert Gutu, a former MDC-T vice-president now Zanu PF member, among

Madhuku was of the opinion that the recall provision was a result of a bad Constitution which was drafted without adequate consultation of the citizens. He highlighted that if Zimbabweans had been afforded the opportunity to contribute to the drafting of the Constitution in 2013, the clause in question would have been different.

He added that the recalls clause should be very clear and recalls should be at the instance of a body broader than the political party.

However, Gutu argued otherwise.

“He (Gutu) argued that it is absolutely misleading that recalls and defecations were an anathema to democracy but that recalls  and defections are actually a catalyst to a vibrant and robust democracy,” the minutes read.

Gutu recently defected to Zanu PF after being in opposition for over 20 years.

“He noted that it was found necessary to include this recall provision in the Constitution in order to prevent the mischief of elected officials defecting from the political parties under which they were elected into office, choosing to join another political party or to become independent elected officials.”

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