ERC slams Constitutional reforms

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By Chengeto Chidi

Election Resource Centre has slammed the recent reforms introduced by the government saying they do not include public participation.
Addressing the press today ERC Executive Director Tawanda Chimhini said they are worried by government sidelining the general public by passing Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill.
“It is disturbing that the same government that is calling for dialogue and national cohesion, on one hand, is shutting the door on all other stakeholders in an important exercise such as amending a constitution that was overwhelmingly supported by Zimbabweans in 2013 on the other, ” he said.
He called for the inclusion of citizens for the government to gain from an inclusive approach to changing policies than stubbornly doing it alone banking on the ruling party’s current Parliamentary majority.
“The ERC acknowledges that there is nothing illegal about a broad-based, inclusive approach to considering and implementing policy reforms including changes to the constitution, ” he advised.
The reforms bring about scepticism towards future elections based on the previous one
“It is unfortunate that the proposed changes have a direct bearing on future elections particularly on issues of inclusion and election dispute resolution given the disputed nature of previous ones, ” he said.
Clawing back the gains of the 2013 Constitution will only serve to widen the rift between those in authority and those outside of it.
The Election Resource Centre is against the centralised position the president acquires because it paints a picture that negatively portrays the nation.
“Increasing the number of ministers the president can appoint outside Parliament does not add any of the democratic and governance challenges that have been noted by observers in the Motlanthe Commission,” Chimhini said.
He also said the reforms ignore the important aspect of gender equality
“Extending the party-list provision of women numbers from two to 4 Parliaments does not comply with section 66 of the constitution which demands that there be 50-50 representation, ” he said.
Questions about fairness and impartiality have also been raised concerning the extension of Supreme Court Judges term of office by 5 years after reaching the age of 70 if they are officially declared fit
“The extension of tenure of constitutional and Supreme Court Judges after reaching the age of 70 will also not insulate judges from patronage and influence, ” he said.