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Put Zimbabwe first

25 Apr 2021 at 08:09hrs | Views
For the second time this month, the Senate will be called upon to take an important stand on the future of Zimbabwe when it votes on proposed amendments to the constitution and it will be a tragedy if the legislators repeat the mistake they made about a fort night ago.

Early this this month, Zanu-PF senators, with enthusiastic support from their colleagues from the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T, voted to pass Constitution Amendment Number 1.

The amendments that now await President Emmerson Mnangagwa's signature will give the Zanu-PF leader unfettered power to appoint the country's top judges.

As if that was not enough, Zanu-PF and MDCT legislators last week once again joined hands to pass Constitution Amendment Bill Number 3, which contains a whopping 27 proposed changes to the new constitution.

Some of the amendments contained in the contentious Bill seek to scrap the running mate clause that was meant to come into effect in the 2023 elections, give the president powers to acquire foreign debts on behalf of the country without parliamentary scrutiny and extend the retirement age of judges, among other things.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum in a critique of the amendments said they undermine "separation of powers, checks and balances, citizen participation, parliamentary oversight and independence of institutions".

We can go a step further to say they are an assault on Zimbabwe's nascent democracy and will erode the gains the country made when it adopted the new constitution in 2013 after an overwhelming majority voted for the new charter in a referendum.

Mwonzora tried to justify his party's treachery by claiming that they wanted to ensure that the women and youth quotas in Parliament are extended.

The justification does not fly because women's groups have been clear that they do not want the quotas extended because they have not resulted in the envisaged empowerment of female politicians.

Mwonzora knows that what his party did was meant to aid Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF's long-held desires to create an imperial presidency.

However, it is not too late for the MDC-T and probably a few principled Zanu-PF legislators to redeem themselves by rejecting Constitution Amendment Number 2 when it is tabled before Senate soon.

For once, the legislators have to rise above their petty interests and put Zimbabwe first.

Instead of enthusiastically cheering on a leader who is clearly intent to consolidate his own power, the legislators must be pushing back and protecting the little gains Zimbabwe has made on the democracy front.

The legislators must be pushing for the alignment of laws to the constitution and not the tearing apart of the supreme law.

Source - the standard
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