We, the undersigned civil society organisations (CSOs) in Zimbabwe, note with serious concern the passing of the controversial Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 2 by the National Assembly on April 20 2021.
It is very disturbing that the proposed amendments to the constitution are being introduced at a time when the May 2013 constitution has not been fully implemented.
The amendments relate to critical thematic areas that include the appointment and retirement of members of the judiciary, appointment of the head of prosecution, removal of running mate provisions, extension of proportional representation provisions for female parliamentarians, composition of executive and legislative oversight role among other amendments.
Since the introduction of the Bill, we the undersigned CSOs, have expressed our reservations to this process and made several calls on all progressive citizens and duty bearers to reject this Bill as it reverses the gains that were ushered in by the 2013 constitution.
The adoption of this Bill will undoubtedly centralise too much power in the executive, particularly the president.
Besides widening the scope of presidential powers and undermining democratic accountability, this Bill unilaterally increases the size of central government and imposes an unprecedented burden on the already suffering citizenry.
Taxpayers will bear the primary burden of a bloated government.
The proposed amendments on the promotion of judges to the superior courts and extension of tenure of office for judges over 70 years will greatly compromise the independence of the judiciary.
The proposed sections of the Amendment Bill are a backward step in the pursuit of democracy, accountability, the divisions of governmental power, representativeness, the rule of law and human rights in Zimbabwe.
The adoption of the Bill entails further strengthening of the president’s powers while weakening the mechanisms intended to hold the president to account for his or her actions, wrongdoing and in some cases, illegal conduct.
The adoption of the Bill also sets precedence to future and further amendments to the constitution, which will additionally undermine the democratic and civic space in Zimbabwe. Hence, the undersigned CSOs condemn this development.
In essence, the Amendment Bill dilutes democracy, weakens the rule of law and undermines the promotion and protection of human rights in Zimbabwe, particularly those of a civil and political nature.
At this juncture, the country is supposed to be focusing on the alignment of laws to the new constitution, fully implementing provisions of the constitution and not amending it.
We the undersigned CSOs in Zimbabwe call for alignment of laws with the constitution. The amendments are a mockery to democracy, a recipe for disaster and a violation of the principle of separation of powers.
The undersigned CSOs in Zimbabwe therefore call on all progressive citizens to:
- Condemn and reject this amendment through all appropriate legal means;
- Call on state actors to fully implement provisions of the constitution
- Call on those responsible within government to fully align all laws with the constitution
- Hold to account, one way or the other, their representatives in the National Assembly who voted for the amendment.
- This statement was signed by 46 CSOs under the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition banner.