ROHR [Restoration of Human Rights - Zimbabwe] have initiated a campaign to prevent the Zimbabwe Constitution being futher subverted by the ruling Zanu PF Junta. At ZHRO we fully support this campaign and wish to assist in the furtherence of this desirable [as far as the democratic process goes on Zimbabwe] proposition.
Why we’re saying NO to the Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 2
a) The Amendment of Bill No 2 strengthens dictatorship, undermines independence of the judiciary and erodes parliamentary oversight.
b) Consultations of the bill have been done during COVID, limiting the number of people who are allowed to appear at these hearings.
c) There was no prior public consultation before the constitutional amendment was gazetted.
d) The current constitution has not yet been fully aligned with the country’s laws so why is there now a rush to make amendments to this Constitution?
e) Almost 11 of the amendments benefit the person who sits in the President’s seat and the Executives and a few higher offices, but this has nothing to do with the general-public.
f) The bill dispenses with having a running mate leaving the choice of who to name as Vice-President into the hands of the President.
g) The bill enables the President to appoint up to 7 ministers from outside Parliament instead of the current 5.
h) The bill extends the provision for the party-list women members for another 10 years.
i) The bill separates the delimitation function from the population census that is held every 10 years.
j) The bill allows the President to be involved in the appointment and dismissal process of judges without subjecting them to the public interview procedure.
k) The bill allows judges of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court to extend their tenure after reaching the retirement age of 70 annually for up to 5 years upon approval from the President.
l) The bill seeks to Create the office of the Public Protector, appointed by the President, who will take over certain functions concerning public maladministration from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.
m) The Bill seeks to give the President the power to appoint the Prosecutor General on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, without the intervention of a public interview.
n) The bill also makes a special provision for the Prosecutor General to be removed for cause by a Tribunal.
o) The bill seeks to remove members of Parliament from the membership of provincial councils.
p) The bill makes a provision relating to provincial and metropolitan councils. Metropolitan councils will no longer be chaired by mayors but be elected in terms of Section 272 like provincial councils.
q) The bill provides for the election of 10 of the members of the Metropolitan Councils by a system of party list proportional representational.
r) There needs to be an apolitical youth quota system with gender balance that is accessible to independent candidates.
Details about the Bill
1) The proposed bill will compromise the principle of separation of power and give President Mnangagwa excessive power whilst at the same time limiting his accountability.
2) Section 92 - Issue of running mate that was supposed to be coming back in 2023 but will not be coming back after the amendment to Section 92 of the Constitution, which means that the President will continue to appoint Vice-Presidents and that if he dies his political party can appoint their own President, which undermines the electoral process.
3) Section 104 - The increase of ministers and deputy ministers appointed outside parliament will be increased from 5 to 7. We need to look at the calibre of the people who are being elected into parliament as these are the people who are responsible for the national budget and social policy and if they are not capable then it affects everyone in the country. Why is there a need to increase these Ministers? An increase in Ministers will also lead to an increase in the allocation for Ministers in the budget which is really not in the interests of the public.
4) Section 180 - The President should never be involved in the process of appointing judges as this compromises the judiciary.
- There should be a clear separation between the State and the Judiciary.
- The Amendment Bill puts into question the integrity of the Judiciary and their ability to be impartial when making rulings due to there no longer being a separation between the State and the Judiciary.
- Public interviews have been removed.
- In the current Constitution all judges were appointed after a thorough and public process involving advertising the position, inviting the President and members of the public to nominate candidates, conducting public interviews of candidates and preparing a list of three from which the President would choose from
- With the amendment we are now reverting back to the appointment process pre- 2013.
- The bill threatens the independence and the transparency of the judicial system.
- The President will have a disproportional amount of control of the judicial appointment process
5) Section 186 - By increasing the tenure of Office of Judges at the discretion of the President this also compromises the Judiciary in making the judges who still want to serve after their tenure open to manipulation in order to keep their job.
6) Section 124 - The women’s quota is discriminatory because it only benefits women with strong political ties while marginalising independent candidates who often don’t have strong political ties. The number of women directly elected into parliament has dropped since the quota system was implemented from 34 in 2008 before the quota system to 26 in 2013 and 25 in 2018
7) Section 243 - The amendments will remove the independence that The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission had in pursuing any investigations concerning human rights issues.
- The appointment of the Public Protector by the President to carry out any investigations puts to question the independence of that individual in making decisions with the best interest of citizens.
- The ZHRC no longer has the mandate to protect the public against abuse of power and maladministration by State and Public Institutions and by officers of those institutions as that function has been taken over by the Public Protector.
8) Section 259 - This clause will provide for the appointment of the Prosecutor-General by the President on the advice of the JSC, without the intervention of a public interview procedure, and makes special provision for his or her removal for cause by a Tribunal.
- The amendment does away with the need to consult the public on the Prosecutor General’s appointment through public interviews.
- The amendment gives the President power to appoint and dismiss the Prosecutor General and this threatens the independence of the position.
9) Section 327 - In replacing the term ‘Foreign organisation’ with ‘International organisation this will limit Parliament’s oversight of agreements concluded between the Government of Zimbabwe to only those made with other nation states and ‘international organisations’ that is organisations whose members include independent States.
- This will create a loophole for government to enter into agreements with non-state institutions, such as foreign banks, without parliamentary approval, oversight or veto power.
- Parliament can therefore not monitor state expenditure if this happens.
- It is important that Parliament has the power to veto loan agreements which it feels could impose too great a financial burden for the country.
10) Delimitation clause - The amendment would allow ZEC to set ward and constituency boundaries without reference to population information collected in the census.
- A full census helps to make the delimitation process more transparent and less arbitrary.
- Delimitation is the setting of a boundary. Zimbabwe is split into 210 constituencies each represented by a Member of Parliament who is voted in by the people of that constituency in a parliamentary election
· From the previous delimitation that happened in 2008 urban populations mushroomed while several rural areas have remained static or have shrunk but these changes have not been accounted for in parliamentary representation