Zimbabwe: Constitution Amendments Undermine Good Governance - Citizens' Manifesto

15 January 2020

Local social movement, the Citizens' Manifesto has blasted attempts by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to amend the country's 2013 Constitution saying the move undermined good governance in Zimbabwe.

The proposed bill if passed into law, will give a sitting president powers to appoint vice presidents of his choice, powers to promote judges without subjecting them to public interviews first and to increase the number of Cabinet ministers that the Head of State can appoint from outside Parliament.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Citizens' Manifesto said Zimbabwe's Constitution must be centred on the ambitions of the citizens.

"We are wholly against the intended weakening of our Constitution, more so before its full implementation, and the disregard of sacred principles of democracy," the pressure group said.

"The Constitution as the supreme law of the land must reflect the aspirations of the people and express our desire for a mature democracy that values people the same, vests power in the citizenry and places checks and balances on power.

"The proposed amendments undermine the standards of good governance particularly in giving more executive powers to the president instead of empowering the citizens with more rights to seek accountability.

"We denounce the intentions of trying to manipulate the judiciary system and limit its independence by giving the office of the president supreme powers of appointing judges without public hearings thus we are strongly against these proposed amendments," reads the statement.

The statement added; "The government must desist from all attempts to mutilate the constitution. Any constitutional changes must be subject to people's consultation. Instead of amending the constitution, the government must fully implement the constitution adopted in 2013 and align all laws.

"Among other things , we make a call for total devolution enforcing the autonomy of key state institutions such as judiciary , security services and independent commissions.

"The government must respect and uphold fundamental human rights as enshrined in our constitution and international instruments and curb all forms of harassment of citizens including abductions and torture and open the space for inclusive and participatory governance," Citizens Manifesto said.

It said it was important to collectively as a country, recognise that the people have suffered for long and the situation was not getting better before calling for a national dialogue.

"To resolve the country's problems therefore there must be an inclusive and comprehensive National Dialogue, which involves all key players including political parties, civil society, labour, churches and business.

"The economic state of our country is disheartening since the inception of the current government the economy has been weakening and people's livelihoods have been eroded by austerity measures.

"The loss of value of the currency coupled with the skyrocketing prices has made life unbearable for the ordinary people. We would like to make it known to the powers that the issue of people's survival needs the most attention."

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