GOVERNMENT’S move to amend the Constitution, adopted only in 2013, for the second time could hit a snag as it has been roundly rejected during initial parliamentary public hearings.
The proposed amendments, contained in the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment) Bill No. 2, seek to empower the president in the appointment of key executive, judicial and other independent officers.
It also aims to do away with the presidential running mate clause, implying vice presidents would only be appointed by the president to serve at his or her pleasure.
However, the proposals were rejected during public hearings simultaneously conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in Chinhoyi Monday and Marondera Tuesday.
Participants described the move by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration as an assault on civil and political rights.
“Our Constitution is just seven years old and we already had the first amendment. Why are we rushing it when we haven’t even aligned existing laws to the very same constitution?” said Collen Chipango who participated at a meeting held at Mbuya Nehanda Hall in Marondera.
“We are not ready for these amendments. What we want first is the implementation of the Constitution than other piecemeal things later,” he added.
He got support from an unidentified female participant who said: “We have a new Constitution and why are we altering it now? First things first. The other thing is that why are we lobbying to pile more powers on the executive while forgetting the citizens and the issue of basic human rights.”
The public hearings had to be conducted in batches of 50 participants after massive crowds turned up at the event in violation of the Covid-19 lockdown measures which prohibit gatherings exceeding 50.
But the situation was different Monday at Cooksey Hall in Chinhoyi and according to officials who attended the meeting, only a handful turned up.
However, even those few rejected the proposed amendments.
A participant Peter Liwanda said: “The amendments are designed to concentrate power in one individual, not in the interest of the people. Why amending the running-mate clause even before implementing it? Are we not trashing what the people said in 2013?
“I say no to appointments because appointments are our biggest problem in the country. The appointed (officials) pay allegiance to the appointing authority,” he added.