By Staff Reporter
MDC Alliance says government`s focus should be on realigning the country laws to the Constitution as opposed to amending it.
The opposition party’s concern follows the controversial decision by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to proceed with public hearings on Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No.2 Bill notwithstanding protests from members the public.
The hearings are scheduled to run from June 15-19 across the country.
However, there has been an outcry from members of the public and civil society that the environment was not conducive due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions as interested parties will fail to participate due to the travel restrictions.
In a statement, the MDC Alliance said there was need to respect the Constitution as it was the bedrock of a strong society.
“We believe that respect for the Constitution is the bedrock of a strong society and that any constitutional amendment process must be people-driven,” MDC Alliance national spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said.
“The proposed amendments entrench more power in the Executive and remove necessary checks and balances that are integral for the independence of the judiciary and separation of powers.
“The proposed decoupling of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission`s delimitation process from the population census leaves the former process exposed and vulnerable to gerrymandering and political abuse.“
She said the public hearings were meant to run between March 29 to April 4 but were suspended due to the Covid-19 lockdown and while lockdown remains on Level 2 this means freedom of assembly is still greatly curtailed.
“The decision to fast track the public hearing process means that most people will not be able to attend the public hearings and their voices heard due to restrictions on movement as well the size of the gathering.
“Section 328(4) of the Constitution requires that the public be given an opportunity to express their views on Constitution amendments and Parliament must provide facilities to enable them to do so. This is grossly unreasonable as it violates the citizens` rights to be heard and consulted in the important process,“ said Mahere.
She said the attempt to amend over 20 clauses confirmed if the government had the political will to realign laws to the Constitution, it would have done so.
“No changes should be effected to the Constitution until sincere reforms are implemented; including addressing the socio-economic crisis, the deteriorating human rights situation, and the chronic scourge of corruption,” said Mahere.
“We encourage citizens to continue to speak out and register their dissatisfaction with the clear violation of their rights.”