By Arthur Mutambara
We have been talking about the need for political reforms to level the political playing field thus facilitating credible, free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. While we have argued that political reforms are necessary but not sufficient, we have also emphasised that without these reforms all other interventions are futile. We having been insisting on dialogue and agreement about these reforms, and thereafter their effective implementation.
As we posit these averments, it is instructive to note that ZANU-PF is actually designing and implementing political reforms – albeit in the opposite direction! While we are in a political slumber and majoring in minors, ZANU-PF is busy carrying out political changes to enable the theft and rigging of elections. More importantly, they are putting in place political reforms that will allow them to steal or rig those polls with absolute impunity.
One of the key objectives of the 2013 Constitution was to whittle down the authority of an all-powerful presidency. This was not sufficiently addressed but significant inroads were made. However, on 17 December 2019, the ZANU-PF government announced a raft of measures to roll-back that progress and reintroduce an imperial presidency through Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2019. They seek to remove the running mate clause so that the President will appoint and fire his two deputies. They intend to abolish the use of public hearings from the appointment of Judges and return that authority to the President. Furthermore, they propose the appointment by the President of the following: Chief Secretary to President and Cabinet and the deputies; Public Protector and deputy; and the Prosecutor General. This an unequivocal and unambiguous reconstruction of the pre-2013 all-powerful presidency. In fact, it is even more consolidated and over-reaching than obtaining pre-2013.
An imperial presidency is central to the orchestration of fraudulent electoral processes. It enables the rigging of elections and guarantees impunity for electoral theft. When one is aggrieved with electoral outcomes, where do you go? To the courts (High Court, Supreme Court, and Constitutional Court), right? Who will be manning those courts? Compromised judges appointed by an illegitimate President who is a product of electoral theft! What justice do you expect?
A further cynical part of the ZANU-PF’s Constitutional changes announced on 17 December, is the obvious and shameless reward to Chief Justice Luke Malaba for his role in upholding the results of the fraudulent 2018 Presidential elections. He is due for retirement soon, but ZANU-PF has put a specific provision that allows him (beyond the retirement age of 70) to renew his contract annually, for a period not exceeding five years. How sick can we get?
Let us be woke. Political reforms are taking place. There are just in the opposite direction. ZANU-PF is busy implementing reforms to rig elections with absolute impunity.
Arthur Mutambara is a former deputy prime minister in the government of national unity.He writes in his own capacity