President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ZANU-PF team have benefited from Douglas Mwonzora’s acquired MDC-T MPs, as they overwhelmingly voted to pass Constitutional Amendment Bill No 2.
The bill won by 191 to 22 votes in National Assembly and now it heads to Senate, then President Mnangagwa for assent.
It drops running mate clause, allows president to appoint judges without interviews and also to extend term of judges past 70 years.
Meanwhile, critics have been opposing this Bill.
Commenting on the Bill sometime last year, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition wrote:
The Constitution Amendment Bill No.2 of 2019 is one of the biggest threats to civil and political rights in Zimbabwe.
Single handedly, the Bill seeks to take Zimbabwe back to the legacy of the Lancaster House Constitution:
1. The Constitution is a product of the tireless efforts by citizens to develop and entrench democratic ethos in Zimbabwe as a solution to decades of crisis. In this regard the Constitution represents the views and aspirations of citizens as demonstrated by 94.49% of the voters who voted in favour of the Constitution in 2013.
2. The Bill is a violation of Sections 17, 56 and 80 of the Constitution, which guarantee gender parity at all levels of leadership. The Government of Zimbabwe should be taking a cue from progressive countries such as South Africa, Senegal and Rwanda where a lot of progress is being made towards gender parity.
In addition, the Government has not undertaken consultations to evaluate the impact of Proportional Representation (PR) seats in genuinely empowering women and increasing their voice in leadership, policy formulation and the development of the country.
3. Beginning 2023, the Constitution provides that an elected Vice President will takeover in the event that the President vacates office before the end of their tenure. This means that the party from which the president comes from will now have the sole discretion to choose a successor regardless of whether or not they are popular.
4. Beginning 2023, the Constitution provides that the President together with two Vice Presidents will now be elected. The Bill removes this provision by giving the president the power to appoint Vice Presidents. The right of citizens to choose leaders of their choice must be respected and citizens should be accorded the right to self-determination.
5. The Bill seeks to increase the number of appointed Ministers from five (5) to seven (7) thereby increasing the number of Ministers and government expenditure.
6. The Bill returns the Constitution Amendment Bill No.1 of 2017, which was rejected by citizens. It removes the role of citizens in nominating and monitoring the appointments of senior officers of the judiciary and gives the President the power to appoint. Judges and the Prosecutor General will now serve at the mercy of the President. This means that the Judiciary will no longer be independent.
Zimbabwe is at risk of sliding into a de facto one party state where the ruling party has the sole discretion to determine the governance of this country. The gains made through the new Constitution of 2013 risk becoming moot if these amendments sail through.