Zanu PF faces hurdles in amending Constitution

HARARE - ZANU PF’s bid to amend the Constitution is likely to face hurdles because it does not have a two thirds majority in the Senate, which would have allowed the party to ride roughshod over the opposition.

The ruling party is mulling using its super majority in the National Assembly to effect a raft of constitutional amendments, including raising the minimum age for presidential aspirants from the current 40 years to 55.

This was revealed by its winning legislator for Buhera South, Joseph Chinotimba.

However, the amendments will not be an easy task because the party lacks the two thirds majority in the Senate.

Zanu PF has 35 seats in the Senate, far below three thirds majority which needs 54 seats.

In terms of section 344(3)] of the Constitution; a two-thirds majority is needed to pass a constitutional amendment. 

While chiefs are supposed to be nonpartisan, history shows a trend whereby they have aligned themselves with Zanu PF.

In the event that a constitutional amendment is brought to the Senate, the 18 chiefs in the upper chamber of the legislator will add to its numbers.

In its latest instalment, legal watchdog — Veritas said “even if all 18 Senator chiefs were to vote with the Zanu 35 (totalling 53), it would still need one more Senator to make up the 54 votes”.

The opposition has 24 seats while the other two seats belong to disabled persons.

Political analysts canvassed by the Daily News yesterday said the failure by Zanu PF to attain a super majority in the Senate will affect its plans.

“This may affect their ability to do so, but Zanu PF is Zanu PF, they know no Constitution and they can do whatever needs to be done to make the changes. They may just ignore the Constitution and operate as if it’s amended. This is why we still have AIPPA (the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act) and POSA (the Public Order and Security Act). Zanu PF is a lawless organisation. They know no Constitution, no law,” said political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme.

Piers Pigou, senior consultant at the International Crisis Group said the development was good for Zimbabwe.

“It is important for Zanu PF not to have two thirds majority so they cannot amend the Constitution. It is unhealthy in the current circumstances,” Pigou said.

In the National Assembly, Zanu PF won 145 of the 210 contested seats, while their closest rivals — the MDC Alliance — garnered 63.

The other two — Norton and Kwekwe Central — were won by independent candidates Temba Mliswa and Masango Matambanadzo respectively.

Since the promulgation of the national charter in 2013, Zanu PF has made it clear that it is unhappy with some of its provisions.

Last year, the Constitution was amended for the first time when the ruling party rescinded provisions on the appointment of the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President of the High Court.

Unlike in the past when the Judicial Services Commission would make these critical appointments through an interview process, office holders are now being appointed by the president following the constitutional amendments.

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