Roman Catholic Church bishops are calling for the suspension of ongoing constitutional amendments by government saying focus should instead be on addressing Zimbabwe’s dire economic situation.
In December last year, the government gazetted the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 2) Bill, which comes with 27 proposed amendments.
In a statement Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) president, Archbishop Robert Ndlovu, said the decision was taken after considering the obtaining economic situation in the country.
Zimbabwe commemorated the 7th anniversary of the new Constitution, which was adopted in 2013, on May 22.
“The church respects and acts collaboratively and consistently with all people committed to the creation and promotion of a better world where there is peace, social justice and existence of a dignified life for all,” said Archbishop Ndlovu.
“This amplifies the respect of human rights and good governance practices that include the participation of human beings in institutions and social processes that affect their lives. The process of amending the Constitution should be suspended.”
He added: “Wide consultation of citizens should be conducted to ascertain public support and interest in changes. Extensive public education is required on the country’s Constitution. There is an urgent need to prioritise implementation and alignment of the Constitution in its current form before the amendment.”
Archbishop Ndlovu encouraged the government to intensify efforts that address the well-being of members of the public, especially the impoverished masses and vulnerable groups such as economic stability, health service delivery, food security, employment, unity and peace.
He said the proposed changes were largely taking place with limited public input and concurrence of the ordinary people of Zimbabwe who are currently overwhelmed by several difficulties in the very basic aspects of their lives.
“The 2013 Constitution is a major breakthrough in the country’s constitution making process and its implementation should be expedited,” he said.
“Whilst the Amendment Bill has proposals that promote democracy, it unravels the huge amounts of progress stemming from extensive input, public interests wide consultations, negotiations and broad based compromises. Our call to the government is that it should consider suspending the amendment of the constitution and focus on fixing economic issues.”
He added: “This is an immense undertaking entrusted to people of good will. It is precisely that of establishing justice, charity, liberty, and new methods of relationships in human society.”