BY BEAUTY NYUKE/NIZBERT MOYO
FORMER Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has called on the Senate to reject Constitution Amendment Bill Number 2, which was recently passed by the Lower House, describing the proposed legislative changes as “poisoned chalice”.
The Bill seeks to remove the running mate clause, give unfettered powers to the President to handpick his deputies, judges as well as clip Parliament’s oversight role over international treaties on non-State loans.
Mutambara said some of the proposed amendments sought to undermine and negate devolution, which is enshrined in the 2013 Constitution.
“This Bill must be killed, and if necessary, a separate Bill with only the women and youth quotas introduced. Why rush and embrace a poisoned chalice? We are two years away from 2023. Where is the urgency on the quotas?” asked Mutambara.
“Of course, the junta has a deadline of May 15, 2021. Why join and enable the regime’s nefarious agenda? The devolution changes in the Bill are actually meant to undermine and negate devolution. It is pure an unadulterated dishonesty and duplicitous conduct to say that the Bill enhances devolution. It does the opposite.”
He said the legal challenges filed recently to stop the proposed constitutional amendments should be supported, and people must be mobilised to create public awareness in order to stop the Bill.
“The lies about the Bill’s benefits to women, youth and devolution must be exposed. Efforts must be mounted in the Senate to stop it,” Mutambara said.
While the main opposition MDC Alliance MPs opposed passage of the constitutional amendments in the National Assembly last week, their counterparts in the MDC-T yesterday said rejecting the constitutional amendments would be a loss to the nation.
MDC-T national spokesperson Witness Dube told NewsDay that those opposing the Bill should look at it wholesomely as it had six thematic areas, four of which were positive.
“It is an omnibus Bill with six thematic areas and out of the six, four are naturally in the position paper of the party. The nature of the Bill is such that we have to engage in it on a more serious note rather than being radical. It has a lot that we stand to lose if we reject it outright,’’ Dube said.
Legal think-tank Veritas said the Bill sought to reduce the size of provincial councils and increase the influence of central government on local authorities’ issues.
The Bill also seeks to preserve the system that is currently in force where the President chooses his deputies who hold office at his pleasure.
The Bill seeks to allow the President to appoint up to seven Cabinet ministers who are not members of Parliament.
At present, he can only appoint five from outside Parliament.
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