March 13, 2020

Will Constitutional Amendment Bill No.2 Shake POLAD?

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Takudzwa Chihambakwe

From the time the idea of amending the constitution was mooted, to when the Constitutional Amendment Bill No.2 was gazetted last year, there have been mixed views on the matter. So much so that even stakeholders in the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) have raised reservations about how the process is being handled.

On Friday when the POLAD executive plenary met with President Mnangagwa to give him feedback on the various findings they had within their different subcommittees, the issue of the constitution was topical.    

President Mnangagwa highlighted that he welcomed the views forwarded by POLAD on the Constitutional Amendment Bill No.2.

“There was the governance and constitutional legislative committee report presented by Professor Madhuku. His presentation was made up of two components namely, the process of constitutional amendment and the content of amendments. Both issues were well articulated. There were areas where they did not agree with government but it was received in a good manner,” said the President after the deliberations.

Also speaking after the meeting, professor Madhuku maintained his stance that this was not the right time to amend the constitution and that if their views of stopping the process were not accepted, there was no point of having POLAD in place.

“We told the president that this is not the appropriate time to amend the constitution. Government must delay the process by withdrawing the bill and give people in the country time to share their views,” he said.

He highlighted that some areas the committee feel should be altered are on the selection of a new president if the sitting one resigns or dies.

“We will not accept a situation where a political party gives us a president in the event that a sitting one has resigned or died. Let it be done at the very least by Parliament. However, the President says he wants us to continue debating the issue until a final compromise is reached. But he was trying to warn us that everything will depend on what the majority feel,” highlighted Madhuku.

The constitutional law expert saidf the majoritarianism approach risks destroying POLAD.

“If they are going to continue with the issue of majoritarianism then there will be no point of POLAD but the merits of the views that are put across,” he said.

Next week the President is set to meet the heads of political parties in POLAD to map the forward regarding all the issues raised in Friday’s meeting.

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