In light of the ongoing Constitution amendment process, on the 13th of February 2020 Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) held a public meeting in Habane with residents from ward 16. The meeting was meant to prepare residents for the Public Hearings on the Constitution Amendment (No.2) Bill of 2019 to enable them to make informed contributions during the public hearings to be led by Parliament.
Speaking at the meeting, WILD’s Legal Officer Mosupatsila Nare said that the Bill speaks to a number of issues which are inclusive of limitation of Parliament’s power to approve international treaties, abolition of provisions for electing Vice-Presidents, extension of Party-list Members of the National Assembly, promotion and tenure of Judges as well as the creation of office Public Protector and transfer of functions from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.
Speaking on the clause on the abolition of provisions for electing Vice-Presidents, Nare said that Chapter 5 of the Constitution provides for the “running mate” concept whereby the election of the President and Vice Presidents takes place con-currently with every general election of Members of Parliament and local authorities. These provisions were due to come into operation in 2023.
The Bill however dispenses of this and the system that is currently in force whereby only the President is elected and, after his or her election, he appoints up to two Vice-Presidents who hold office at the President’s pleasure continues.
“The running mate concept was meant to bring Certainty to Presidential succession as well as legitimacy to the position of Vice President. In other words, the Vice President’s mandate was meant to come from the electorate and not the President” said Nare
Nare shared with local women that the Bill gives power to the office of the President to promote Judges, to appoint the Public Protector and the Prosecutor General on the recommendation and advice but not necessarily the agreement of the Judicial Service Commission.
“The proposed amendments will have the effect of increasing and consolidating the President’s personal political power making further inroads into the democratic gains made by the 2013 Constitution. We are once again reverting to the pre-2013 Constitution, one centre of power model” said Nare
Speaking on the provision on limitation of Parliament’s power to approve international treaties, Nare said that Section 327(2) of the Constitution states that international treaties do not bind Zimbabwe until they have been approved by Parliament. The Bill seeks to alter this provision such that Parliament’s power will apply only to agreements entered into with international organisations.
“The proposed amendment takes away the veto power that Parliament possesses in the current Constitution in regard to loan agreements concluded with foreign banks or similar non-state institutions. Reducing Parliament’s powers will be utterly detrimental and will encourage a return to reckless spending by the Government, mortgaging the birth right of future generations,” said Nare.
Residents were urged to attend the Public Hearings as it is their opportunity to effectively participate in national legislation and decision-making processes.
Councilor Sibanda who was in attendance encouraged citizen participation amongst the residents as it is key for progress in the community and the country at large.
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