By Linda Masarira
It is the constitutional responsibility of the national assembly to make constitutional changes in line with the trends and as demanded by the electorate. However, it is abuse of office for the ruling party to make constitutional changes for it’s personal benefit without considering the will of the people.
The clause for the running mate is necessary in the construction of checks and balances and checking the power of the president, to avoid going to an election every time a sitting president is unable to complete their term. Labour Economists and Afrikan Democrats (LEAD)is not in agreement on the removal of running mate provision however, the amendment does not temper with the countries democracy. Zimbabwe still has weak systems. Power must not be vested into a party, but the sitting Vice President should assume power finishing the whole term left as we witnessed in Tanzania recently. The current provision suggests that the last serving VP takes over for certain number of days brings chaos. The President must have the priviledge to work with people he can give tasks or fire if they fail to perform.
On the appointment of Ministers who are not MPs, we realized that the Constitution does not provide academic qualifications for MPs and senators. This means any person including some who can’t handle ministerial positions can go to Parliament. This provision gives the President room to include technocrats into his Cabinet. This also reduces chances of these ministers to be involved in factional battles and improves efficiency as they dont have tied benefits from the party itself. There is no direct effect to the democracy of Zimbabwe including service of this provision.
Appointment of the Chief Justice and Judges by the President alone compromises democracy in Zimbabwe. It is therefore vital to have Judicial Service Commission not being involved in the process directly but indirectly. JSC should facilitate receipt of applications from interested parties to take up the posts, then a seperate Commission set up from members from political parties represented in parliament, interviews the Judges and interrogates them. Or JSC can conduct interviews then forward the results to an independent commission where the final selection will be done through further interviews. Judges and ZEC officials serving at the Presidents mercy do not promote democracy as there is high probability that they will favour the Appointee. However, Judges are guided by the Constitution and statutes which make them not easy to interfere with. There is also need for the preservation of sovereignity and the issue was supposed to be dealt with in an inclusive manner. The issue of judges should never be put in the hands of a president who has party affiliation. If a president is given power over judges then judicial Independence is compromised.
LEAD is in support of the Public Protector. The position is vital and very important. However, the appointment is supposed to be broad based and led by an Independent Commission made up of members from Political Parties who then from time to time sit to interogate, supervise and oversee the Public Protector for the sake of accountability.
Removal of MPs from the Provincial Councils is a very welcome move which was long overdue & removed direct interference. These vacancies should be filled by competent people through a non partisan way of interviews and appointments as the proportional representation way has always been abused by political parties to reward loyalty to their members. Removal of the mayor as Chairperson of the same is also welcome but should be treated with caution to promote indendence of the same. Devolution was long overdue and has to be fast tracked if necessary.
It is unfortunate that women in politics continue to be used as pawns in a game of political chess. The extension of the 60 Proportional representation seats to 4 parliaments also reflects on our government’s unwillingness to comply with the constitutional provision enshrined in section 17 of ensuring gender balance in all organs of the state and all government organs.
Women are not children of a lesser God and should not be pretentiously handed power on a silver platter in the name of quotas or affirmative action. Whose quota to benefit who? Women who are forwarded on party lists by political parties for those proportional representation seats usually face a lot of abuse and are never chosen on merit but by being the best bootlickers of political leaders. These seats have been used to divide women and to give them unequal opportunities to contest in primaries as they are constantly reminded that they have their 60 bacossi seats.
LEAD is 100% against the extension of the proportional representation seats as they are a violation to the statutes of our constitution as enshrined in section 17.
We however support the Youth quota and believe that young people should be given a chance to participate in national politics.
On the issue of why MDCT sided with Zanu PF, there is nothing wrong with political parties agreeing to act together especially when their interests intersect. They sided with each other during the constitution making process and led the vote YES campaign together and no one seemed to have a problem then. This culture of opposing for the sake of opposing is a cancer killing our nation. Some politicians seek political relevance by just opposing anything done by government.
Hon. Khuphe and Phugeni should display political maturity by not seeking public sympathy in a way that exposes lack of unity in their party. If they are not happy with the Mwonzora leadership they should take proper action internally instead of washing their party’s dirty linen in public.
Lastly ZanuPF should not use institutions of government to fight internal party politics.
United we stand, Divided we fall!
Linda Tsungirirai Masarira