The proposed constitutional amendments are “pure mischief” and have nothing to do with the general interests of Zimbabweans, as President Emmerson Mnangagwa is consolidating power for himself, the MDC has said.
By amending the constitution, President Mnangagwa is accused of taking Zimbabwe back to the pre-2013 era, where previous leader, the late Robert Mugabe had executive powers.
“This is exactly what ED is doing right now and we are very concerned about the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 2) Bill,” said MDC Secretary for Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Kucaca Phulu.
Phulu, a lawyer by profession said, their first concern was the gazetting of the Bill, as it was not signed by the Speaker of Parliament but rather the Clerk of Parliament.
“They must re-gazette, as the procedure was flawed and wrong. We see a false start because when doing something clandestine you tend to hurry and rush in order to achieve a mischievous objective. There is nothing wrong with amending a constitution but it must not be done every day as it carries peoples’ aspirations, especially after extensive consultation,” he explained.
The lawyer acknowledged that some of the proposed amendments were good such as devolution and status of Labour Court judges but these are overshadowed by controversial amendments.
“We are concerned about the entire raft of content changes as these take the country back and detract what people want,” he said.
Phulu highlighted that the removal of the running mate clause was wrong, as people supported it during consultations.
“People are fatigued by appointments and said when a president wants to run, he must select or his party selects a running mate so when campaigning, he campaigns with a vice president so we know who takes over should anything happen to the president. According to the 2013 constitution, this was supposed to take effect in 2023,” he noted.
But, the amendment to abolish it, Phulu argued was made with an eye on 2023, by a candidate who wants to insulate himself from people and party members to cherry-pick whoever he wants.
Phulu also warned Zanu PF members not to support the removal of the running mate clause as President Mnangagwa was setting up a separate power structure.
“He even reported these amendments to POLAD, not his own party, thereby creating his own power place. Previous election results show Mnangagwa is actually disconnected from his party. My message to MPs in Zanu PF look at this amendment very carefully look at what the implications of these amendments are to you and your party before you support it,” Phulu highlighted.
The lawyer added that President Mnangagwa was doing the same with judges, wanting to appoint them as he pleased.
“He removed the idea that people can nominate a judge, who can be interviewed by an independent commission. Mnangagwa wants to take us back to the pre-2013 position where people wake up one day to see people lining up at State House to become judges. This is hardly consistent with international best practices including regional or SADC best practices,” he said.
“It’s ironic that he’s attacking the judiciary which is the very same institution that endorsed him into power, now he wants to have them in his pocket. You see, this is a man consolidating power to himself and has nothing to do with the general interest of Zimbabweans.
“The same thing applies to the prosecutor general, remember that there was an outcry from people wanting an independent prosecutor-general but what ED is suggesting is to when he pleases setting up his arsenal making sure he entrenches himself as a true dictator.”
Phulu said the MDC would reject these proposals in Parliament and urged people to do likewise during public consultations.
“Reject this amendment because they commit violence to the constitution. Development is linked to freedom and regime that clamps down on freedoms by putting the judiciary and all key institutions in one’s pocket will not take us forward. People are hungry and need to move where there is the freedom to do business freely for a more developed Zimbabwe,” he noted.
The media, Phulu underscored was also supposed to guard against this process by alerting people about the amendments and content so that they are not hoodwinked.
“Tuesday, MDC president will speak Tuesday about more and best ways to combat this attack on our constitution,” he said.