At the Heart of a Constitutional and Democratic Governance, Should be the Respect for the Wishes of the Masses

The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), representing women’s rights advocates and organisations, together with the highlighted organisations expresses outrage over the on-going developments in Parliament regarding the Constitution Amendment bill (2).

WCoZ wishes to remind the nation that the constitutional process which resulted in the enactment of the 2013 Constitution was a deeply engaging, inclusive and informed process which was influenced by the imperative need to transform the lives of ordinary men and women on the street. It was a process inspired by the need to strengthen the fundamental rights of the citizens of Zimbabwe. We are therefore outraged by the on-going mutilation and degeneration of the same Constitution currently taking place in Parliament. We believe that at the heart of the constitutional and democratic governance, should be the respect for the wishes of the masses. In 2020, the women of Zimbabwe unequivocally declared their wish to reject Constitutional Amendment Bill (2).

Policy makers must represent the voices and will of the people they serve rather than impose individual interests upon citizens and possibly cite a section of the Constitution or Act of Parliament that speaks to the role of Parliament. Our problem today lies with men and women in Parliament who took the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution in line with Section 119 of the Constitution. We are outraged by the recent developments which reveal that the same men and women are not faithful and committed enough to protect and defend the Constitution at all costs. The passing of Constitution Amendment Bill (2) in the National Assembly is in itself eloquent testimony to that fact.

The passing of the amendment in our own opinion symbolises an act of dismembering and mutilating the most sacrosanct foundation of the land. The unprocedural fast-tracking of the amendment process, together with the adoption of last-minute additional amendments proposed by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, without subjecting them to public scrutiny and the procedure provided in Section 328 of the Constitution, is a travesty of democracy. The fact that a political party enjoys the majority in Parliament, should not be viewed as fertile grounds for misuse of legislative authority. The danger that flows from such actions is that it sets a bad precedent that a State can have a Constitution in place and still act unconstitutional without consequences.

The extension of the women’s quota and the rejection of women’s wishes on 50/50 representation, will now mean that women in Zimbabwe will continue to be under-represented in Parliament for many years to come. We therefore stand by our position that pseudo temporary measures such as the women’s quota in its current form, do not do much to promote gender equality, but rather have an unintended consequence of turning back the clock on gender equality. The ’60 seats reservation’ served its time, and failed to meaningfully advance women’s representation in Parliament. We reinforce our argument that if the State and the Legislature are truly committed to women empowerment and equal representation in Parliament in the spirit of Section 17 and 56 of the Constitution, then instead of seeking to rely on temporary measures, they must develop and implement permanent strategies to address the issue. We recommend enacting laws that advance women empowerment and equality such as ; ensuring that the electoral reform agenda delivers 50% of the direct election seats to women including young women and women living with disabilities. This can be achieved through amending the Electoral Act.

We reiterate that a Constitution is a sacrosanct document that should not be changed willy-nilly, unless if the objective to strengthen the basic freedoms of citizens.

  • We accordingly remind the State that the very foundation of a country’s democracy and freedom depends on the respect of the Constitution, hence the sacrosanct law should not be tampered with willy nilly.
  • We therefore call the Parliament of Zimbabwe to order and remind it of its duty to protect and promote the Constitution of Zimbabwe as provided for by Section 119 (2) of the Constitution.

We conclude by reiterating that the Constitution of Zimbabwe now hangs on a balance, and it’s up to the Senate and the President of Zimbabwe to Save it.

Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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