By Tapiwanashe Chiriga|In 2013, an unprecedented majority voted yes to a brilliant Constitution that was a product of robust and inclusive consultation of the citizens at all levels of society. The level of engagement and consultation made the Zimbabwean 2013 Constitution a true reflection of the will of the People. It can aptly be called the voice of the people and if one remembers well, the occupant of Number 1 Chancellor Avenue loves calling such the voice of God.
What naturally was supposed to follow was the alignment of all laws applicable in Zimbabwe to the National Constitution as chosen overwhelmingly by the people.
The recent bill gazetted by Governmnent seeking to amend the National Constitution in at least 22 ways at one time exposes the extent to which the group of people that calls itself a government is willing to go in as far as power consolidation is concerned. This comes on the backdrop of the controversial first amendment that was shoved on our throats by the ruling elite.
The Constitution of the Republic is the foundation on which the country’s governance, democracy (real, imagined or mutilated) and laws lie. It thus follows that even a single amendment to the Constitution is a direct and unequivocal attempt to shake and rearrange the foundations and such should happen in rarest of circumstances. Mugabe in the 37 years that he misgoverned Zimbabwe, amended the Lancaster Constitution 20 times, the 20th of which was the birth of the 2013 Constitution and even this number itself considered dangerous and too many by many.
The 2nd Amendment Bill to the Constitution of Zimbabwe essentially and for all intents and purposes has nothing to do with the people of Zimbabwe or making right anything in the form, structure and culture of the governance systems of Zimbabwe. This is not even about the Constitution itself. This is about the consolidation of stolen power by an insecure and illegal clueless holder of office in the form Mnangagwa. It is about making Mnangagwa have the powers equivalent to those of a 12th century imperial king.
Mnangagwa is acting, as always on paranoia. He is afraid of and feels threatened by the thought of a Chiwenga Vice Presidency that would have roots in the power of “electoral legitimacy”. He is afraid of getting toppled and will want a submissive Vice President who will serve at his pleasure. While this is politically convinient for Mnangagwa, we surely cannot allow any man nomatter what scary reptile name they give themselves for self-importance, to sacrifice our Constitution on the altar of political expediency and cleanse themselves of paranoia using the blood of our democracy. If Mnangagwa is afraid of how the Presidency is structured, he can kindly excuse himself from it, he won’t be missed after all. He surely cannot ask to amend a provision that is even yet to be put to test.
Another classic example of how all this charade is nothing more than the consolidation of absolute power by the visibly corruptible is the intention to contaminate and pollute the independence of our Judiciary. The first test of democracy and the rule of law in any structured society is the independence of the Judiciary and for Mnangagwa to seek to make Judges to serve at his pleasure and the nation’s peril, is an arrogant confirmation that we have in our faces a politician who wants absolute power at whatever cost, even if such costs include the desecration of our sacred institutions. Had it been in his power and ability, Mnangagwa would even abolish the Judiciary and make himself the entire Judiciary. Mnangagwa even seeks to appoint the Prosecutor General himself. After dismally failing to wield enough power to haunt political enemies through his unconstitutional Special Prosecution Unit in his own office, he now wants to directly appoint the PG who will be micromanaged for such purposes.
Having at many times clashed with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission a Chapter 17 Commission, over his penchant for suppressing and abusing rights, Mnangagwa has come up with a masterstroke of a plan, only problem is that the plan has the sophistication as deep as a fingerbowl. Mnangagwa is seeking to take away some of the powers of the Human Rights Commission, the majority of which are centred around the abuse of citizens by state apparatus and individuals acting on behalf of the “system” and give them to a new creature which shall serve at his pleasure. He is trying to call that creature a public protector.
The government wants an amendment of Section 327(3)of the Constitution to the effect that the the President and his executive will need the approval of Parliament in agreements that place fiscal obligations on Zimbabwe with “international organizations” only. The attempted deletion of “foreign organizations” from this list is a clear indication of the intention. This effectively means that Mnangagwa wants to formalize and legalize his dirty deals with cartels in the Middle East and the mortgaging of Zimbabwe to China. Mnangagwa is seeking to entrench a culture of impunity and clothe it with a veneer of Constitutionality, which is probably the most shameful thing any creature occupying the Presidency could do.
These amendments have nothing to do with the people of Zimbabwe, neither is it anything near a genuine cause to make right any perceived flaw in the Constitution. This is all about Mnangagwa and the consolidation of power. Not even ZanuPf itself stands to benefit from these amendments, they are a personal power move by a selfish misleader who views himself as a 12th century Chief in some medieval polity.
This government has failed in an exceptionally dismal manner to implement the Constitution in many progressive ways. They have flat out failed to reform and align dozens of pieces of repressive and unprogressive legislation to the Constitution. Having failed to implement and follow the Constitution, they have only one solution, twisting it to their liking.
They will need to be reminded, for they seem to forget, that the Constitution is sacrosanct and should be for generations and never the property of a ruling elite of a particular limited time. If Mnangagwa and his fellows feel uncomfortable with the Constitution of the Republic to which they are bound as duty and office bearers, they are free to vacate the offices and as sure as the sun shall rise from the east tomorrow, they will not be missed.
It is incumbent on all progressive and patriotic Zimbabwean to protect the sanctity of our Constitution from getting defiled by politicians. It is our collective duty to reject in the loudest and firmest of voices the mutilation of our Constitution by people who have failed to implement it. The people shall stand firm in defense of their Constitution and Democracy.
Tapiwanashe Chiriga is the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU). He can be contacted on cell +263778402734, email [email protected] and also on Twitter @tapchiriga97