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COTRAD Fact Sheet on the Government of Zimbabwe’s proposed constitution Amendment Bill
The government proposed 27 constitution amendments to the current constitution which was adopted by
Zimbabweans in May 2013, following its approval by 94.5% of the 3,316,082 voters who participated in the
constitutional referendum in March 2013. Some of the proposed amendments if passed as currently framed,
could result in a concentration of decision-making powers in the President. To be enacted, the proposed
amendments would need to be approved by citizens during the parliamentary public hearings scheduled for
15th to 19th June 2020. The Bill also has to be approved by two-thirds vote in both Parliament and Senate.
The proposed amendments include: Dispensing with the “running-mate” provision in the election of the president and his deputies. The principle was supposed to be adopted in the upcoming 2023 elections. The removal of the running mate clause aims to give the elected President the right to choose his/her deputy after rather than before the elections. Enabling the President to appoint up to 7 (instead of 5 allowed by current constitutional provisions) Ministers from outside Parliament.The proposed amendment gives the president excessive power to appoint more Ministers from outside parliament. Extension of the women’s quota by two terms. The women’s quota was set to expire during the current Parliament. Extending the women’s quota in Parliament only rather than applying quota measures to other important spheres of governance such as local government is an act of tokenism which drifts away from the 50/50 provision of gender equality. Introducing a quota system for the appointment of 10 youths into the National Assembly through political party nominations. Reserving only 10 seats for the youth who, alongside women constitute the majority of thepopulation in the country.
Another clause seeks to allow Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to exercise its delimitation function
any time before/after census. The current clause allows ZEC to exercise delimitation after population census
held every 10 years. This means that delimitation of electoral boundaries will be done anytime without waiting
for the population census results. Allowing the President to appoint senior public officials such as the Prosecutor-General, the Chief Justice and sitting High Court judges to the Supreme Court without subjecting them to public interview provisions of the current Constitution. This will reduce transparency and accountability that such public interviews bring and make the selection process opaque. Allowing the President to use his discretion to extend the tenure of Judges of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court who would have reached the retirement age of 70. The adoption of the age-limit was meant to ensure certainty and fairness in the retirement process. Giving the President discretionary powers to extend the tenure of retired judges, annually for up to 5 years, leaves the judges beholden to the President who has the sole powers to extend or not extend their tenure after reaching the age of 70.
· The proposed amendments remove checks and balances on presidential powers and bring back an
unaccountable process which had been abandoned when we adopted the current Constitution in in
· The amendments dilute the principles of meritocracy, transparency and accountability which the 2013
Constitution sought to introduce in governance processes.
· Most of the proposed amendments in the Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 2 seek to reverse
democratic gains by restoring executive powers to presidents.
· Groups and individuals from across the political divide need to voice their opinions on the Bill by
submitting letters and petitions to Parliament and attending the upcoming parliamentary public
hearings on the Bill that are scheduled to be held across the country between 15th and 19th June 2020.