CSOs plot showdown over Bill

Source: CSOs plot showdown over Bill | Newsday (News)

BY VANESSA GUZHA/BLESSED MHLANGA

CIVIL society organisations (CSOs) will today hold a virtual rally to mobilise citizens to reject the Zanu PF-engineered constitutional amendments that sailed through Senate on Tuesday, which observers described as an affront to democracy.

The rally comes at a time when former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara is urging Zimbabweans to protest against the signing of the law and “actively devise strategies to stop future constitutional changes”.

Mutambara said by amending the Constitution, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government had opened itself for more punitive economic sanctions from Western countries.

Senate on Tuesday passed the controversial Constitutional Amendment Bill No 2 with 65 voting in favour of the mutilation of the Constitution adopted in 2013 through a popular referendum vote while 10 voted against.

The Bill went through after three senators from the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T — Piniel Denga, Morgan Femai and Jane Chifamba — voted alongside Zanu PF, which needed only one vote to achieve a two-thirds majority.

The amendments include a provision for the scrapping of the running mate clause, which was supposed to come into effect in 2023 and another giving Mnangagwa unbridled power to appoint judges without subjecting them to public interviews, among others.

But civil society organisations have lined up a virtual rally urging people to use their power to stop the maiming of the Constitution as well as speak against the betrayal by politicians who endorsed the adulteration of the governance charter.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Zimbabwe Peace Project and We Lead will converge under the #ResistDictatorship to mobilise resistance for the constitutional changes.

“May 4, 2021 was a tragic day for Zimbabwe as the Upper House passed Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 2, a deadly blow to constitutionalism in Zimbabwe,” ZimRights director Dzikamai Bere said.

“It is all dusted and done. All the work done between 2008 and 2013 by millions of Zimbabweans is being destroyed by a few selfish politicians. The pain is unbearable but our spirits are indomitable.”

In a statement, the human rights and democracy lobby groups said the rally would be a platform for citizens to respond to the actions of their representatives.

“We are inviting you all to the first of many #ResistDictatorship actions. We are going to speak out against the ongoing nonsense,” part of the statement released yesterday read.

“Today, we must make a commitment to say enough is enough and citizens will be at the forefront of this action, the action that will not end until constitutionalism is restored in this country.”

Constitutional Amendment No 2 Bill was passed despite the displeasure expressed by citizens during public hearings.

Mutambara yesterday took to microblogging site Twitter, accusing Zanu PF of “giving its detractors a big stick to whip its behind”.

“Zanu PF is begging for more economic sanctions,” he tweeted.

“Amendment No 2 gives its detractors reasons to maintain sanctions, constitutional violations, illegal judges, compromised Judiciary, corrupt imperial presidency. Zanu PF is giving its detractors a big stick to whip its behind. It is pure idiocy.”

He called for political action to stop the constitutional changes.

“Amendment No 2: the fightback (1) legal action against Amendment No 1, (2) legal action against Amendment No 2, (3) stop further constitutional changes and stop Patriotic Bill, (4) political mobilisation against the two amendments, (5) make the two amendments an election issue for 2023 (make Zanu PF pay politically), (6) devise strategy to stop Zanu PF 2/3 majority in 2023 — focus intensely on parliamentary seats, not just the presidency and (7) improve the quality of opposition (presidency and Parliament) candidates by putting a premium on (a) meritocracy, (b) technical competence, (c) proven capabilities, (d) ethical leadership, (e) strategic thinking, and (f) a track record of measurable achievements,” he
said.

“We need competent and visionary leaders with technocratic and strategic capacity in both the legislature and the executive.”

Mwonzora, who has been accused of going to bed with Zanu PF to facilitate the betrayal of the people, yesterday blamed MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa for events that led to the passage of the Bill.

Addressing a fire-fighting Press conference in Harare, Mwonzora said the constitutional amendments could have passed without votes from his senators.

“The two-thirds majority that Zanu PF has in the National Assembly is as a result of poor leadership, by those people who are now criticising us. They caused the MDC to field double candidates because of their poor leadership,” he said.

“In Manicaland, for example, we would have had more seats than we have, had it not been of the factionalism, imposition of candidates.”

Mwonzora turned his guns on Chamisa’s deputies, saying they had failed to fight against the passage of Constitutional Amendment Bill No 2, claiming they sat back, folded their hands and did nothing.

“What legal advice would I have given to Tendai Biti? What legal advice would I have given to Welshmen Ncube? Don’t they know that there is petitioning of Parliament? Don’t they know they can demonstrate? Don’t they know that you can picket? These are things that they know and they chose not to do and, instead, they concentrated on hate and this brings us to the issue that we don’t think that their political strategy really works,” he said.

Mwonzora was exposed by some of his senators last week for plotting a public display in debating against the Bill, yet clandestinely whipping three legislators from his party to vote for the Bill.

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