Amendment A Govt Show Of Contempt For Three Million Zimbabweans – ZPP

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By Ndatenda Njanike

THE Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has described government’s recent move to pass into substantive law, Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 2 as an attempt to erase the voices of three million Zimbabweans who voted in favour of the new Constitution in a 2013 referendum.

The Zanu PF-led government has come under fire for a spirited push to amend the constitution with future presidential candidates no longer obliged to select running mates while the President now has the prerogative to handpick judges to the bench without the jurists going through what were mandatory public interviews to determine their suitability to take up the esteemed jobs.

Under the new law, judges can now keep their jobs beyond the ages of 70.

Reacting to the new changes, ZPP bemoaned what it found as an attempt by the country’s rulers to weaken democracy.

By introducing the changes into the works of the judiciary, ZPP feels the courts will now be answerable to the President, thereby undermining the principle of separation of powers.

“Overall, the Amendment of the Constitution weakens democracy, and undermines the concept of the rule of law and separation of powers and is a step back in the context of good governance and accountability,” said ZPP.

“On 20 April 2021, the Parliament of Zimbabwe overwhelmingly voted for the second Amendment to the Zimbabwe Constitution.

“This signalled a major shift in the way the country is to be governed going forward as the Amendments will give more power to the executive, take away the independence of the judiciary, and undermine the role of Parliament as an arm of government.

“History, therefore, noted a dark day for Zimbabwe and a major dent to aspirations of Zimbabwe becoming democratic beyond just political rhetoric.”

Added ZPP, “As part of the Amendment, the President can now appoint judges without having them go through a public interview process, which interviews were beginning to foster transparency.

“Ultimately the amendment means that members of the judiciary will be solely answerable to the President and this seriously undermines the principle of separation of powers.

“In addition, it will mean that members of the judiciary will not be appointed on merit, and neither will they go through scrutiny by the public before being appointed.

“The Amendment will significantly alter the state of the office of the Vice-President, who is the second-highest-ranking political official in Zimbabwe and is supposed to perform the duties of the President when he or she is absent or otherwise unable to exercise their duties.”