By Staff Reporter
MUTARE – Frustrated residents in this eastern border city have roundly rejected the proposed Constitution Amendment Bill No. 2 telling legislators it was better to gather people for mealie meal distribution than patching up a Constitution.
Residents and civic society activists complained that due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, the environment was not conducive for public hearings as other interested parties were excluded from participating due to travel restrictions.
Most participants felt that Parliament should have gathered people for mealie meal distribution as the majority of the people were starving due to economic hardships caused by recurrent drought.
“It was better if you had brought mealie meal and gather us for distribution because we are starving. We want mealie meal for now not amendment of the Constitution,” said Mary Maruta from Penhalonga.
Gabriel Chiziwe weighed in, saying the whole process was being driven by greed and corrupt tendencies.
“The whole process is being driven by greediness. MPs should have refused to conduct the process during lockdown but the issue is about allowances and people lining their pockets. Why are they risking the lives of citizens by gathering us here? I smell a rat,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) representative Lessano Kuyeli said there was no need to vandalise the 2013 Constitution before it was fully implemented.
“This is a non-event. It`s a nullity. 60% of the country`s population are youths and are we sidelined in the decision making processes. We don’t see the reason of allowing a 70-year-old person to single-handedly borrow for the country on behalf of future generations. By 2030 those people will be dead and future generation will hold us accountable for failing to stand up against such decisions,” he said.
Edward Chirwa said conducting national elections before a census was a recipe for rigging and sham elections.
“Thus a recipe for rigging. Let’s count people first before we go for elections. We want a credible and undisputed elections outcome.”
Proud Banya from Dangamvura said residents coming to the venue were turned away by police and soldiers at security checkpoints and the gathering was not a true reflection of the city`s population.
Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) representative, Reverend Chebve said there was no need for the president to pick additional ministers outside parliament as there were enough qualified MPs to be appointed ministers.
“Why should we pick additional ministers outside 270 elected members? Those are enough and they represent people. We are also concerned with the move to renew contracts for judges by additional five years and as church, we are saying we can`t have the same people holding same position for years. Let’s give others a chance,” said Chebve.
Reverend Steven Maingamhuru said this exercise should have been stopped at parliamentary level as it was not important.
“We are in the midst of coronavirus pandemic and you as parliamentarians should have stopped this process before you came to the people. We are not subjects but citizens. Subjects don’t ask if they are instructed to jump.
“They will simply ask how high but citizens ask what for. Seven years down the line we are already amending the Constitution. Why do we need to centralise power on one person?” queried Maingamhuru.
He added: “I think the government is running too fast but it will not get anywhere. Laws come out of necessity. Constitution is the supreme document and should not be tampered with.”
Andy Ziera said the Bill was not only undemocratic but the timing was also wrong.
“We are in the lockdown and this process should be attended by as many residents but we are limited for our voices to be heard. This process to me is undemocratic.
It`s unnecessary to be changing this Constitution because in 2013, citizens of this country agreed and adopted this Constitution. It has not been operationalised fully; so why amending it now?”