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Parly okays scrapping running mate clause

by Staff reporter
21 Apr 2021 at 06:56hrs | Views
The Second Bill to amend the Constitution sailed through the National Assembly yesterday after it got an overwhelming two thirds majority vote required for its passage.

At least 191 MPs predominantly from Zanu-PF, voted for its passage while 22 legislators voted against it. The Bill now awaits transmission to Senate.

Some of the provisions in the Bill include the removal of a clause on running mates, extension of the women's quota, extension of the 70-year retirement cap for judges by another five years and giving impetus to Government's devolution agenda.

Earlier yesterday, Zanu-PF legislators had said the contentious running mate clause would be scrapped from the Constitution as it created two centres of power. This emerged when Zanu-PF parliamentarians met yesterday and were briefed on the Constitutional Amendment Bill (No.2) among other Bills before Parliament.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who was steering the Bill, proposed some additional amendments last week that were subsequently adopted by legislators.

Some of the amendments include the removal of the requirement for judges to produce annual medical certificates for them to be considered fit to warrant a further extension.

This was after it was felt that a judge's impartiality could be compromised especially when adjudicating matters that involved the State given that he or she would be beholden to it at the end of each year, for their tenure to be extended.

Legislators from the ruling Zanu-PF burst into song soon after Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda directed its Third Reading after telling them that the number of votes satisfied the requirements of the Constitution that it must have two thirds majority. After its passage, Minister Ziyambi commended legislators for peacefully voting for the Bill.

"I want to thank Honourable Members for the peaceful and overwhelming voting. It showed that we voted with a common purpose. I also thank you for the robust debate we had," said Minister Ziyambi. During debate, legislators mostly from Zanu-PF, supported the Bill saying it was progressive while others from the opposition said there was need to amend the supreme law of the land.

One of the arguments from the MDC was that the ruling party was abusing its two thirds majority by unnecessarily amending the Constitution. Minister Ziyambi shot this argument down saying the two thirds majority that Zanu-PF commands was a reflection of the voting pattern.

"There is nothing called abuse of two thirds majority. The two thirds are the people. We are all seated here representing people so whatever we articulate and do here is a reflection of the voting pattern. Therefore, the minority must not say that the majority want this when the majority is speaking.

"We represent the majority and what we propagate is what the majority want," said Minister Ziyambi. In an interview after the Zanu-PF legislators' meeting yesterday morning, Minister Ziyambi said the running mate clause would be done away with if the amendments were passed by Parliament.

"The first issue is we have the contentious issue that was parked in the 2013 Constitution of the running mate clause which we have agreed should be done away with and we continue with the status quo," he said.

Under the running mate clause, the President would be elected on the same ticket with his two deputies, a position Minister Ziyambi said, could lead to two centres of power. Presently, the President appoints his deputies, a scenario that will continue if the amendment Bill is passed.

"The other issue that is there is that we need to ensure that our women are empowered and they participate in politics hence we want to extend the clause that makes provisions for 60 seats in the National Assembly," he said.

The provision for 60 seats was set to expire in 2023 and Minister Ziyambi said the extension would allow more stakeholder consultations on how best to ensure women participation in politics.

Minister Ziyambi added that the Constitutional Amendment Bill would also provide a youth quota of 10 seats in the National Assembly.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill will also remove the clause for judges to be interviewed for promotion to superior courts with the process only being done at entry level.

The MPs were also briefed on the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill, whose objective is to increase cyber security in order to build confidence and trust in the secure use of information and communication technologies by data controllers, their representatives and data subjects.

Source - the herald

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