By Ratidzo Munembi
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice legal and Parliamentary Affairs’ country-wide consultations on the controversial Constitutional Amendment II has today, June 17, reached Masvingo province with the first gathering at Chivi growth point.
Many people gathered at the Chivi RDC hall where strict social distancing rules were observed with the help of health workers and members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
Representatives of civil society organisations Heal Zimbabwe and the Women Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) were also present as key stakeholders.
Wednesday, June 18, the committee will be in Masvingo for yet another consultative programme which is also expected to attract a sizeable crowd.
In an interview, WCoZ Masvingo chapter coordinator, Belinda Mwale said it was important that members of the public turn up for the meetings which are critical in gathering citizen input on the envisaged amendments.
“This is a critical phase in our democracy because government is proposing to make far-reaching changes to our young constitution which came into effect only seven years ago. It is critical, therefore, that citizens take this seriously and get their voices heard,” said Mwale.
She said many women were against the proposed extension of the women’s quota parliamentary system which they criticise as mere tokenism which relegates women’s participation in politics to the whims of men.
“Many of us prefer a level playing field where women will be able to assert themselves with equal measure. The women’s quota is open to exploitation by male politicians who can use the system to advance abusive patronage whereby only women who give in to perverted sexual advances are put on the list,” said Mwale.
Among other changes, the proposed amendments would remove the running mate clause which requires that a candidate in all future presidential elections fields a running mate who will automatically be the vice president in the event of electoral victory. A vice president elected under such a system cannot be fired by the president.
The amendments also seek to give the President exclusive powers to appoint and promote judges of superior courts without going for interviews as is currently the case.