ZCTU urges parliament to shelve public hearings due to Covid-19 lockdown

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By Alois Vinga

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade of Unions has called on parliament to shelve plans to roll out public hearings on proposed Constitutional Amendments until the country’s Covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

In a statement, ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo said conducting the hearings under current conditions would lead to poor attendance by the public.

“The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) notes with serious concern the decision by the government to go ahead with public hearings on the Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment Bill No. 2 (H.B.23, 2019) at a time the country is under lockdown.

“We call upon Parliament to shelve the hearings until the lockdown is over in order for people to make meaningful contributions,” he said.

Moyo said the government is fully aware that movement among citizens was being restricted with just a few categories of people enjoying the privilege to leave their homes.

He said it was highly unlikely that Zimbabweans under the current lockdown regime would find it worth the while to attend public hearings.

“We are questioning the sincerity of the government in going ahead with the hearing amidst the deadly coronavirus and believe the State is working from the answer.

“We are fearful that some issues could be sneaked into the Bill in the name of these public hearings,” he said.

Moyo said the national constitution was the most important document in the lives of citizens with far reaching consequences and amendments must not be hurried.

He said, “We believe this is a deliberate move by the government to sideline a majority of people from meaningfully contributing to the Bill.”

The government last year gazetted the Constitutional Amendment Bill No.2, which seeks to introduce at least 27 amendments to the constitution that was only adopted in 2013 through an overwhelming 94.49% voter support at a referendum.

Mnangagwa has been accused of trying to use the controversial amendments to create an imperial presidency and reduce Parliament’s oversight role.

If passed by Parliament, in which Zanu PF enjoys a two-thirds majority, the running mate clause for vice-presidents will be scrapped and the president will be given the sole powers to appoint judicial officers such as judges and the prosecutor-general.

The proposed amendments will increase the number of ministers without parliamentary seats and limit Parliament’s powers in the adoption of international treaties, among other far-reaching governance issues.