On Tuesday our Constitution suffered yet another deadly blow when the lower house of the National Assembly passed the disastrous Constitution Amendment Bill Number 2 by a vote of 191 to 22. The Bill will now move to the upper house where the chances of its passage are high before the presidential ascent. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association is devastated by this tragic betrayal of the people of Zimbabwe by elected representatives whose primary duty is to defend the constitution.
ZimRights and other civil society organisations have and continue to oppose the Amendment Bill Number 2 as an affront to democracy. Among other things, ZimRights has said the Bill is harmful to democracy and human rights because it allows the President to appoint sitting judges to a higher court without subjecting them to public interviews and extent their tenure after reaching 70 years thereby eroding independence of the Judiciary and subjects it to the control of the executive. The Bill also takes away important functions of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and place them under the Public Protector an entity which is not as Independent as the ZHRC. The bill also removes the running mates’ clause during Presidential elections taking away the power from the citizens to vote for deputy Presidents. The removal of the requirement to advertise the post of the prosecutor general and subject candidate to public interview aids to abuse of power by a sitting president.
The Bill entrenches more power in the presidency. During public hearings held by the Parliament, thousands of ZimRights members participated in the physical and virtual public hearings and spoke out against the amendment.
ZimRights National Chairperson, Takesure Musiiwa said the Parliamentarians who voted for the Bill are reversing the People’s will. “Any effort to reverse the gains of what Zimbabweans had celebrated is reversing the will of the people. As ZimRights we are against the attempt to push back into the constitution what the people had rejected during the Constitutional making process,” he said.
In a twitter video clip, our youth member Namatai Kwekweza condemned the move by the 191 members of the National Assembly as in advertently voting for a creation of a one-party state. ZimRights National Treasurer, Janet Kanavette expressed disappointment in the voting for the Bill and said there was nothing progressive in the Amendment, “This shows that the ruling party always wants to have its way and is now colluding with other members of the opposition, even the women’s quota extension is nothing to celebrate as this does not match in any way to the equality we want as women.”
ZimRights National Director, Dzikamai Bere has said that the 191 Members of Parliament who voted for the bill have betrayed the people of Zimbabwe. “Amendment Bill Number 2 is the single deadliest blow to our Constitutionalism so far. It is a tragedy that the people who claim to represent the people of Zimbabwe are acting with impunity against the very people they purport to represent. I hope the people will punish them for this treasonous act.” Bere said.
As the Bill moves to the upper house, ZimRights still stands in opposition to the bill and calls on the senate to defend the Constitution as it is their primary obligation.