Keep Zanu PF below super majority in 2018 polls

HARARE - The more power President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF gets, the more power it abuses. The more power it abuses, the more corrupt it becomes.

That is why analysts are saying Zimbabweans must keep Zanu PF below a two-thirds majority in elections expected in the third quarter of next year. Analysts are also saying it can be done, because Zanu PF is in the throes of debilitating elite disintegration that has seen it splitting into two bitterly opposed factions, Team Lacoste and the Generation 40 (G40).

Two-thirds is too much, they said. It has allowed Zanu PF to change the Constitution unilaterally.

This comes after the National Assembly has passed the controversial Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill by a vote of 182 for, and 41 against, which amends section 180 of the Constitution and gives sole and unfettered discretion to President Mugabe to appoint the chief justice, deputy chief justice and judge president of the High Court of his choice whenever there are vacancies for such posts.

Fifty three Senators voted for the Bill, and 19 voted against.  The President of the Senate Edna Madzongwe then announced that the 53 affirmative votes satisfied the two-thirds majority requirement and declared the Bill duly passed in accordance with the Constitution. 

All 18 Senator chiefs voted for the Bill.  Even Zanu PF Senator Thokozile Mathuthu temporarily left her hospital bed to cast her “aye” vote.

During the second reading debate, MDC Senators argued that it was wrong in principle to amend the Constitution so soon after a lengthy and very expensive constitution-making process had produced an agreed document subsequently approved by the country’s voters in a referendum.  They also protested that the Bill’s changes in the method of appointing top judges would detract from the independence of the judiciary.

Responding to the debate, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who steered the Bill through Parliament, rubbished both arguments.

He asserted that as the Constitution allows amendments to be made at any time, no matter how soon, there can be no valid objection to an amendment put forward by a party that commands the special parliamentary majorities needed to have amendments passed.

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He contended that the new appointment procedure would in no way detract from the independence of the judiciary.

“Let me assure the Senate that this is not the only thing we intend to amend in the Constitution,” Mnangagwa told the Senate.

“There are many other areas which we are looking at, which we feel should be amended. It is not a question of being a Zanu PF government in power, but it is a question of a democratic process.”

A democratic process requires that the party that has the majority after a general election should form a government and it has a programme. If the Constitution forbids the implementation of a programme, they have a choice to amend the Constitution so that the programme can go forward.

“If next time they are not in power and some other political party comes in and thinks that they must amend, the Constitution allows them to amend — but for now we are amending, because we feel it must be amended.”

Analysts said apart from breeding corruption, power also breeds contempt. And absolute power has made Zanu PF absolutely contemptuous —of the highest law of the land, of independent State institutions designed to check power abuse, and of the people of Zimbabwe.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's former advisor and constitutional law expert Alex Magaisa said Zanu PF must not be allowed to get a two-thirds majority in the 2018 election. It risks placing Mugabe above the law, a reversal of the gains made in the 2013 Constitution that markedly whittled down the power of the president.

“This is why a key battleground in next year's elections is over the two thirds parliamentary majority,” Magaisa said.

And on the campaign trail during the on-going youth interface rallies, Mugabe is urging supporters to make sure that the ruling party wins the 2018 election with at least a two-thirds majority.

Critics and the opposition say Zanu PF wants total power so that there will be no limitations on its abuse of power, and its corruption.

“It's not a secret that Zanu PF never liked the democratic and progressive Constitution that came into operation in May 2013.

“Zanu PF is fundamentally a fascist and totalitarian Mafia outfit. All this talk about one centre of power is absolute nonsense,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

“The real position is that Zanu PF is intrinsically undemocratic and thoroughly oppressive. Some of us saw this coming. The constitution will be torn to smithereens as the Zanu PF regime seeks to entrench the tentacles of its dictatorship. Worse things are in the offing. Mark my words.”

Gutu said “they are doing it to rig 2018 elections.”

“Zanu PF knows that they can never win a free and fair election,” he said. “That's one of the reasons why they are in overdrive trying to rig next year's elections. The good thing is that next year's elections will be resoundingly won by the democratic forces, in spite of Zanu PF's desperate vote rigging antics.”

The Welshman Ncube-led MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said Zanu PF wants to rewrite the whole Constitution.

“This shows that the country is in the hands of jackals, hyenas and vultures,” he said. “Zanu PF has evil plans to rewrite the supreme law of the land. They are abusing their two thirds majority to raid State coffers. What it also means is that Zanu PF intends to torch the people’s views to enable them to loot and shield themselves from a vicious opposition.”

Lovemore Madhuku, a University of Zimbabwe (UZ) law professor and head of pressure group National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), said the main opposition MDC party cannot cry wolf today because during the constitution-making process, they did not want any criticism. The major force that called for the May 2013 referendum's delay was Madhuku's NCA — a broad alliance of opposition parties, church groups, trade unions and civic organisations that argued the process was not “people-driven”, and that those involved wrote the Constitution to suit their own agendas.

Madhuku, a constitutional law expert, argued ahead of the referendum that the new charter still concentrated power in the hands of the president.

“We wish to remind people that this is what we were saying during the referendum, they (MDC) even expelled over 21 MPs and now they are busy trying to build numbers from 41, it is very pathetic, Zanu PF only won (the Chief Justice Bill) by two MPs, Zanu PF would not have obtained the majority,” Madhuku said.

“As the NCA, we blame those who wrote that Constitution — that is Zanu PF and the MDC-T -—who were very selfish. They did not put in place mechanisms to protect the Constitution. It is being amended because it allows itself to be amended.

“We campaigned against that Constitution because we realised it had many loopholes, is it not a people-driven Constitution. We must change the Constitution and not allow Parliament to amend the Constitution,” Madhuku added.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said although Zanu PF is abusing its two thirds majority, the MDC helped in creating the current situation.

“Firstly, the 2013 Constitution was not people-driven, but MDC and Zanu PF-driven. It was naive for the MDC to have supported and participated in this constitutional process. All happening now was foreseen by some of us who opposed participation in a Zanu PF constitutional review process which we called then part of Zanu PF succession plan. This is what happens when you have opposition parties without a vision.

“Yes, Zanu PF is abusing its two thirds majority, but the MDC participated in creating this state of affairs. They are doing this for their benefit ahead of 2018 and MDC helped them be in a position to do so,” Saungweme said.

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