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'Zanu PF can't amend constitution, it's sacrosanct' said Biti - shut up Godzilla, allowed horse to bolt out

17 Jun 2020 at 16:57hrs | Views
"We maintain strongly that ZANU cannot unilaterally alter a constitution that was approved by 93% of Zimbabweans in a referendum. More so when some of the proposed amendments seek to alter the basic structure of the constitution. The constitution is sacrosanct & should be protected," said Tendai Biti.

He is commenting in the wake of ongoing public hearings on the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2.

One does not have to be a lawyer to dismiss Biti's comment as yet another example of the MDC silverback gorilla grandstanding and posturing. Of course, there is no such thing a sacrosanct constitution that cannot be amended!

Even the American Constitution, one of the best constitutions in the world and has served the American people well and has stood the test of time was amended.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Reads the first amendment to the USA Constitution.

The amendment was passed in 1791, three years after constitution was officially adopted in June 1788 after New Hampshire, the critical ninth state, ratified the Constitution.

There is no doubt that the first USA Constitution and many they have followed has largely enhanced the people's freedoms and rights and democracy and good governance - that country's greatest blessing. Sadly the same cannot be said of proposed second amendment to Zimbabwe's constitution.

"The first amendment (passed September 2017) to the 2013 Zimbabwean Constitution, empowering the President to appoint the Chief Justice, has undermined the compromise central to the consultative drafting process. Considering the Zimbabwean post-colonial tradition of legislative claw back of progressive constitutional provisions and judicial pronouncements, this raises questions on whether the drafters should have recognized unamendable provisions or at least entrenched the judicial appointment process." Wrote David T Hofisi in Constitution Net.

It should be pointed out that the 2013 Zimbabwe Constitution itself is weak in that it gave the State President excessive powers with none of the usual democratic checks and balances. The first amendment only served to consolidate the excessive Presidential power to the judiciary.

One of the things the second amendment to the Zimbabwe constitution will do is scrap the requirement for an elected Vice President giving the State President the power to appoint and fire the VP just as he/she has power to appoint/fire cabinet members!

Tendai Biti's objection to the ongoing exercise to pass the second amendment is foolish political grandstanding for two reasons:
1)    Tendai Biti and his fellow MDC colleagues were involved in the drafting of the feeble 2013 Constitution give the State President excessive powers and the campaigned for its approval in the March 2013 referendum. It is therefore rich for Biti to now be posturing defending a feeble constitution.

2)    This Zanu PF government blatantly rigged the July 2018 elections, it has no mandate to govern the country much less amending the constitution. And yet there is no denying that the participation of MDC and the whole coterie of opposition parties and candidate have given some credibility to the otherwise flawed and illegal election process and hence some modicum of legitimacy to this illegitimate regime. Again, it is very rich of our MDC Godzilla all teeth but no bite monster to be questioning the legality of the amendment process when he and his troop are the ones who gave the Zanu PF regime legitimacy!       

In short there is nothing wrong with amending a Constitution per se. A strong Constitution is the foundation on which amendments can be added to enhance and strengthen the freedoms, rights and good governance. Weak and feeble Constitutions, such as the Zimbabwe 2013 Constitution, are nothing but a dictator's creed and the tyrant will only seek to strengthen his/her dictatorial powers with each constitutional amendment!  

Tendai Biti and company let the horse bolt free and he is now making a big song and dance about closing the stable door! Shut up Godzilla! "Chienda undovhiya mbudzi!" as one would say in Shona.


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