STATEMENT ON FAST-TRACK CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PUBLIC HEARINGS

The MDC Alliance notes with deep concern that the Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has proceeded to hold public
hearings on Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 2 Bill notwithstanding
protests from the public. We believe that respect for the Constitution is the bedrock of
a strong society and that any Constitution-amendment process must be people-driven.
The public hearings commenced yesterday, the 15th of June 2020 and are scheduled to
run until the 19th of June 2020. Initially, they were meant to run between March 29 to
April 4, 2020 but the process was suspended due to the COVID-19 national
lockdown. The lockdown remains at ‘Level 2’. It is yet to be lifted. This means that
freedom of assembly is still greatly curtailed. The decision to fast-track the publichearing
process means that most people will not be able to attend the public hearings
and make their voices heard due to restrictions on movement as well as the size of
public gatherings. Section 328(4) of the Constitution requires that the public be given
an opportunity to express their views on constitutional amendments and Parliament
must provide facilities to enable them to do so. This decision is grossly unreasonable
as it violates the citizens’ right to be heard and consulted in this important process.
The MDC Alliance maintains that Government’s focus should be on aligning laws to
the Constitution as opposed to amending it. The proposed amendments entrench more
power in the Executive and remove necessary checks and balances that are integral
for the independence of the Judiciary and separation of powers. The proposed
decoupling of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s delimitation process from the
population census leaves the former process exposed and vulnerable to
gerrymandering and political abuse.
The attempt to amend over twenty clauses to the Constitution in such a fast-track
manner confirms that if the Government had the political will to align laws to the
Constitution, it would have done so. No changes should be effected to the Consitution
until sincere reforms are implemented – including addressing the socio-economic
crisis, the deteriorating human rights situation and the chronic scourge of corruption.
We demand that the Government implements the Constitution and carries out
systemic political reform. We encourage citizens to continue to speak out and register
their dissatisfaction with this clear violation of their rights.

Fadzayi Mahere
National Spokesperson