Chiwundura – The Midlands Province Zanu PF structures was yesterday supposedly involved in a mobilization stunt by bringing in participants in a branded party vehicle towards the public hearings on Constitutional Amendment (No.2) Bill in a party branded vehicle.
This further raised suspicions that instead of spreading the Parliamentary hearings to rural communities genuinely, government has switched venues to these locales to facilitate stage managed responses from rural folk who have a history of being scared through intimidation; not to oppose the ruling party.
Zanu PF Midlands Provincial spokesperson, Cornelius Mupereri however denied the allegations and said the party does not currently have programs owing to the lockdown.
“That is not true. We have only one car in the constituency and cannot do that provided it will not allow social distancing. Moreso, we have halted all programs because of the Covid-19 inflicted lockdown. Nothing like that happened,” Mupereri said.
The hearings held in Chiwundura, Midlands Province today were part of government’s mandate to get public opinion over proposed bills in parliament.
The hearings will today move to Mberengwa.
Mixed sentiments were passed for and against the proposed bill though many were against proposed Constitution Amendment citing unjustified powers given to the President.
“Reshuffle of Ministers is too much and not necessary. Appointment of Ministers should be done upon merit as they seem not to be competent enough. We do not want a President who is like an Atlas who has all the powers of the nation bestowed upon him.
“This bill should go thru processes of a referendum so that people decide what they want. There is need for a space to be opened that youths can equally contest. Appointees serve at the pleasure of the president therefore there is need to have the vice presidents elected,” said participants against the bill.
” The President should be given the power of electing his own Vice Presidents so that the vision of the Executive is in unison. Judges should also be included in the processes of selecting the President.
“Youth need inclusion in issues of policy formulation and decision making posts. There is therefore need for at least 80 seats to accommodate youths in parliament than the proposed 10 seats. As a stepping stone to this development, the amendment should be enacted,” added participants vying for the proposed Bill.
The move however comes at a time the civil society has linked the proposed amendment to a political move meant to jeopadise democracy.
” The Constitutional Amendment Bill No2 seeks to amend 28 provisions of which 20 of them are election-related. The next general election is in 2023, why is the government in such a hurry to amend the constitution to the extent of doing it under the cover of devastating pandemic?
“The amendment does not in any way make our democracy better. Why are we in a race back to our past? This act by parliament is a recipe for disaster and a mockery to democracy even by Zimbabwe’s standards,” wrote Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in a statement.
The civil society has also gone further to launch a campaign against the take off of the ongoing Parliamentary hearings arguing that they will exacerbate the spread of Covid-19.
Constitution Amendment (No.2) Bill gives the President powers to unilaterally appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court.
The omnibus bill proposes sweeping changes to allow the President to unilaterally appoint and remove the Vice President(s) outside a popular mandate; giving the President more powers in the appointment and extension of tenure of judges of superior courts; extending the women’s quarter system and creating additional 10 seats for the youths.
It further seeks to limit the powers of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission by placing some of its functions in the hands of a Public Protector appointed solely by the President; cutting on Parliamentary oversight over agreements entered into by the executive with foreign organizations and companies; extending Presidential powers in the appointment and removal of the Prosecutor-General, and extending executive representation by unelected officials in Cabinet, among others.
Public Hearings on Constitutional Amendment Bill No2 were initially scheduled to take place from 29 March to 3 April but were suspended together with all parliamentary activities from 18 March to 5 May 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.