Contrary to popular perceptions, the ruling ZANU PF party DOES NOT and CAN NOT have two thirds majority in Parliament necessary to pass a constitutional bill on its own. Reader, in Zimbabwe a Parliament consists of the Senate and the National Assembly. I have noticed that when pundits talk of Parliament, they tend to colloquially refer to the National Assembly and thus far and no further.
For a constitutional bill to pass as expressed in section 328 (5) of the Constitution, it needs yes votes of two-thirds majority of the membership of EACH HOUSE of Parliament that is the National Assembly and the Senate.
Following the by elections held on 3 February 2024, the ruling party now has 190 seats (150 directly elected through first past the post, 33 proportional representation for women and seven youth quota) out of 280 seats in the National Assembly. Reader, that translates to two thirds majority only in one House and that is not enough to amend the constitution.
This is because in the Senate, the other part of Parliament, ZANU PF DOES NOT and CAN NOT have two thirds majority during the tenure of this Parliament. Reader, in the August 2023 general election, ZANU PF got 33 out of 80 seats and will therefore need 21 seats to get a two thirds majority in the Senate which is required to pass a constitutional amendment on its own.
Reader, ZANU PF can never have that two thirds majority in the Senate because the proportional representatives are based on the 23-24 August 2023 general election outcome.
Consequently, the opposition RECALLS CAN NOT result in ZANU PF getting two thirds majority in Parliament necessary to pass a constitutional amendment on its own. This is because the party that recalls simply fills the vacancy with its members. There are no by elections for that House.
ZANU PF will therefore need to persuade other members of the Senate for Parliament to be able to pass a constitutional bill. These Senate members are two representatives for people living with disabilities, the 18 traditional leaders and at least one Member of Parliament from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
Politically, this is feasible given the prevailing PLASTIC POLITICS from the decomposing opposition party and partisan politics of some traditional leaders. Add to that ZANU PF’s use of coercion, persuasion and patronage.
However, it is not given and it is NOT a fact that ZANU PF has two thirds majority in Parliament.
Dr. Phillan Zamchiya
4 February 2024.