ZESN’s position paper on Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.2) Bill

Executive Summary

The government is proposing to amend the Constitution and some of the proposed changes affect the conduct of elections. This is ZESN’s position paper concerning the proposed changes. While ZESN acknowledges that the Constitution is not set in stone, it encourages caution and restraint before changing it, particularly so not long after its adoption and before some parts have been implemented. ZESN urges a more consultative, cooperative and consensus-based approach and discourages unilateralism based on numerical superiority in parliament.

ZESN is concerned by the proposal to delink the delimitation of electoral boundaries from the population census. This will affect democratic representation and may lead to gerrymandering. ZESN urges the government to move forward the Population Census as a better alternative to amending the Constitution.

ZESN believes there is no need to remove the running-mate provisions in presidential elections, especially when they have not even been tested. The proposal to remove these provisions is based on an irrational fear. The removal will disturb a more democratic succession system.

The proposed amendments to the devolution provisions demonstrate a need for a comprehensive re-think of the devolution model rather than doing piece-meal changes that will result in a patched-up and incoherent Constitution. There is no need to create two centers of power in the Metropolitan Provinces which will be the result of the proposed amendment.

While extending the women’s quota in Parliament appears like a progressive idea, it perpetuates a façade of promoting women’s participation in politics when the government should be implementing the principle of 50/50 (equal) representation as required by the Constitution. Another 10 years of the women’s quota is not going to solve the problem of under-representation and authorities must take a bolder step if they are committed to gender equality.

Likewise, the new youth quota of 10 youth members of parliament (MPs) is an act of political tokenism rather than a substantive step to promote youths’ participation in parliament. The amendment must also be redesigned to ensure it promotes equal gender representation.

ZESN is concerned with proposals to change rules for appointing judges to the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court and the retirement of judges. It is also concerned with changing procedures for appointing the Prosecutor General. These changes affect the independence of the judiciary and prosecution authority, which are important political referees in electoral disputes.

Download full document here (150KB PDF)

Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)