Lupane residents reject constitutional amendments

Lupane residents yesterday resisted amendments to the Constitution, while challenging the government to first put in place mechanisms to compensate Gukurahundi victims.

Source: Lupane residents reject constitutional amendments – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 23, 2017


The residents, who attended a public hearing by the Fortune Chasi-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, said only 40% of the Constitution had been implemented, thus, they were astonished that the government already wants it patched.

Vumani Ndlovu said the reason Zimbabweans approved the new Constitution, which stipulates that judges must go through public interviews conducted by the Judiciary Service Commission, was to clip the powers of the President to ensure he does not appoint his cronies.

“Implementation of this Constitution is only 40% now and some aspects like devolution of power and setting-up of some commissions have not been completed up to now, yet already you are bringing amendments to it,” he said.

“Let us stick to the Constitution and address fundamental issues affecting Matabeleland that need the attention of the Executive such as compensation for Gukurahundi victims, which should be the centre stage of discussions here, not issues to do with changing the Constitution, which people have not yet enjoyed.”

Maxwell Mthunzani warned of civil unrest if the Constitution was tampered without people’s approval, adding it also belittles the President if he usurps the powers of the judiciary.

He said there was no guarantee that a Chief Justice (CJ), Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) and Judge President would act in a non-partisan manner if appointed by the President because he is a leader of a political party.

Other Lupane residents said amending the Constitution three years after its crafting was like buying a shirt and immediately burning and patching it.

“A good Constitution can stay 100 years before it is amended, and the moment one brings an amendment three years after its crafting, it means there is something suspicious going on. Let us instead pre-occupy ourselves with aligning laws with the Constitution, because right now, people are subverting the Constitution due to lack of alignment,” Martin Stobart said.

Residents warned MPs against political party whipping in Parliament, saying they would be saddened to see some MPs voting for passage of the amendments to the Constitution when they rejected them.

Several people questioned the motive behind the amendments, saying with elections coming in 2018, they suspected the reasons for the amendment were political

“We cannot let the President appoint the CJ, who will swear him when he wins elections. It is as good as that the CJ is a political appointee,” Jacqueline Mpofu said.

Generally, people have spoken less on issues to do with amendments to section 176 of the Constitution to do with judges of the Labour Court and Administrative Court, and have shunned the amendments to the Constitution supported by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the basis of section 180 to do with appointment of the CJ, DCJ and Judge President of the High Court.

“If MPs really represent the will of the people, it is better if we see some MPs fired for voting against the Bill in Parliament and standing by the people’s will,” a Mthunzani said.