ZANU PF yesterday used its majority in the National Assembly to railroad the passage of the controversial Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 1) Bill, despite spirited attempts by the opposition to stop the process.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Members of the opposition trashed the Bill to do with appointment of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court, as well as judges of the Labour Court as soon as Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured) brought it for Committee Stage where the proposed legislation was scrutinised.
On the short title of the Bill, Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (no. 1) Bill, MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese pleaded with Mnangagwa to respect the opinions of Zimbabweans who vehemently rejected the Bill, saying there is no justification for the National Assembly to be passing the Bill.
Harare West MP Jessie Majome added: “It was clear during the public hearings that the Zimbabwean public do not want the amendments to the Constitution.”
Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa said the short title to the Bill and amendment to the Constitution by Mnangagwa is “usurping the will of the people and suppressing the confidence of people to be governed in a way that aligns itself to the will of the people”.
Chamisa said Mnangagwa must not cause Parliament to violate the Constitution by amending it against the will of the people who spoke eloquently when they were consulted and rejected the amendments.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice Ziyambi Ziyambi who led the public hearings said opposition MPs were raising irrelevant issues, claiming they were lying to the people by claiming that a Constitution must not be amended.
Norton MP Temba Mliswa (independent) said Mnangagwa represented the views of the people.
“I saw Gonese literally going on his knees begging Mnangagwa not to amend the law. We are not in this House to beg, we are here to uphold the Constitution of Zimbabwe which has no clause that says you must beg. We do not want to waste time when you do not have the numbers,” Mliswa said.
As arguments on the short title of the Bill ensued Mnangagwa then stood up and bluntly told the opposition MPs that they do not have the numbers to reject his Bill.
“The will of the people in this chamber is represented by the ruling party Zanu PF because it has the majority and MDC-T is a minority, but they also represent the will of that minority,” Mnangagwa said.
The VP said he will not continue to re-state the reasons why it was important to pass the Bill as he had done so last week.
When chairperson of the committee (chairing committee stage) Rueben Marumahoko called for MPs to acclaim if they wanted the short title to be passed the opposition was beaten by virtue of numbers.
Chamisa then demanded a secret ballot so that MPs express their views freely on whether they want to pass the Bill, adding the House might be surprised that some Zanu PF MPs do not support the Bill, but Marumahoko quashed Chamisa’s assertions saying his decision was final.
Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga also warned that history will judge the Eighth Parliament by the laws they passed.