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MPs a big let down

Editorial Comment
Members of Parliament

THE Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling last week that Parliament should review Statutory Instrument (SI) 144 of 2022 is not only welcome but a serious indictment on our Legislature, which we feel has been nothing but a major let down in terms of advancing the rights of ordinary citizens, who the Members of Parliament (MPs) should be fighting for at every turn.

But instead of fighting in the corner of ordinary Zimbabweans, parliamentarians have glaringly betrayed the people who voted them into the august House by passing SI 144 which resulted in nomination fees for aspiring MP candidates for the August 23 elections being raised from US$50 to US$1 000. The SI also hiked the presidential nomination fee by a jaw-dropping 1 900% from US$1 000 to US$20 000.

The ConCourt, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza, was absolutely on point to declare that Parliament had breached the Constitution by not looking at whether or not the SI contravened the supreme law before passing it.

The nomination fees for this year’s elections are grossly unreasonable, discriminatory, completely unjust, oppressive and blatantly tread on peoples’ rights, leaving the nation wondering what our MPs had smoked when they agreed to the fees.

Had it not taken the guts of the Nationalists Alliance Party leader, Devine Mhambi Hove to challenge the fees, very few aspiring candidates would have been able to afford them.

This SI speaks volumes about the calibre of our current legislators, and we are afraid to say the whole bunch of them is an embarrassment and do not deserve another term to represent us in Parliament because they have proved beyond any reasonable doubt that they have an agenda to disenfranchise the country’s electorate and tread upon its constitutional rights.

We cannot have such kind of heartless people representing our interests. They do not deserve our trust anymore because they have proved to be the worst devious characters ever to warm Parliament benches since the country gained independence in 1980.

Even if some MPs opposed the adoption of this SI, they are equally guilty because they should have walked out of Parliament in protest at the time of passing the SI and their objection would have been put on record. Storming out of Parliament would have absolved them of being part of this heinous statute meant to enslave the masses of this country.

We salute Hove for having the temerity to stand up for the rest of us who were most likely too numb to utter a word or protest. We also salute the ConCourt for advancing the tenets of constitutionalism after our legislators completely failed to ensure adherence to the country’s governing charter.

SI 144 highlights how unquestionably self-centred our current parliamentarians are. They have been busy enacting laws that have little to nothing to do with national interests. Some of the laws include the so-called Patriot Bill and the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill which are all largely centred on significantly curtailing citizens’ freedoms and rights.

It is heart-warming that the ConCourt has given Parliament until June 16 to review the fees, otherwise it will not act on the order. Parliament should, therefore, act wisely on this matter and if there are any among the legislators hoping to be re-elected, they must vote the reinstatement of the old fees, otherwise they will be sent packing from  the august House.

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