A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has raised concern on the government’s “insatiable appetite” to amend the 2013 constitution even before completing aligning of all laws to the constitution.
The Government gazetted the constitutional Amendment Bill which paves way for the restructuring of Zimbabwe’s supreme law.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the Bill will now be tabled for debate in the National Assembly early April, at least 90 days after its gazetting according to local media.
Election Resource Centre (ERC) director Tawanda Chimhini, speaking to journalists in Harare today, said that it is of great concern that such developments are coming at a time when reforms should define the country’s attempt to extricate itself from current challenges including international isolation.
“It is disturbing that the same government that is calling for dialogue and national cohesion, on one hand, is shutting the door an all other stakeholders in an important exercise such as amending a constitution that was overwhelmingly supported by Zimbabweans in 2013 on the other,” Chimhini said.
“It is unfortunate that the proposed changes have a direct bearing on future elections particularly on issues of inclusion and election dispute resolution given the disputed nature of previous ones.”
ERC is also concerned that such constitutional changes may have an impact on future elections.
“It is unfortunate that the proposed changes have a direct bearing on future elections particularly on issues of inclusion and election dispute resolution given the disputed nature of previous ones,” Chimhini said.
“The ERC would have hoped that any constitutional changes, once deemed to be necessary and a priority, seek to strengthen the credibility of future election processes rather than weaken them.”
“Furthermore, judicial officers whose appointment is at the discretion of the Executive undermines perceptions of fairness in the event of disputed elections given that the executive is an interested party,” he went on.
Local media says that the Parliament will soon initiate nationwide public hearings into the Bill to ensure inclusivity in the law-making process.
The ERC director, however, said “The danger with the nature of consultative processes in Zimbabwe is that they are done at a very cosmetic level where it’s a matter of just taking a vox to say we spoke to x,y and z. Our fear is that this consultative process has never resulted in the past in what people say being reflected in the document that is proposed as final.”
Business sector has in the past on how government consults in policy making, with former ZNCC president of the Association of SADC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Oswell Dinha stating that the government of Zimbabwe cherry-picks in making decisions.