The Constitutional Amendment Bill, which seeks to amend the Constitution by empowering the President to appoint his Vice Presidents instead of the running mate concept, and extend women’s quota by another two Parliamentary terms, was tabled in the National Assembly yesterday for the first time.
The tabling of the Bill, which also seeks to create a youth quota of ten seats in the National Assembly, followed the lapse of a 90-day period by which such a Bill can be brought before Parliament.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi tabled the Bill and indicated he would be making additional amendments, some of which he said were “consequential” to initial amendments.
Minister Ziyambi said he will be making an additional amendment aimed at removing Clause 101, which stipulate that a sitting President will be replaced by the First Vice President until the expiry of the former President’s term in the event of death, incapacitation or removal from office.
The same Clause stipulates that the Second Vice President will become the First Vice President and the President would then be required to appoint the Second Vice President.
“The new section seeks to repeal this provision and replace it with one that provides that in the event of death, resignation or incapacity of President or Vice President, the VP who was last nominated to act assumes office of the President until the vacancy is filled by a nominee of the political party which the President represented when he or she stood for election,” said Minister Ziyambi.
“In the event of death, resignation or removal from office a President who was an independent candidate, the Vice President who was last nominated to act assumes office.”
He said the Bill will also provide for exemption of judges from going through interviews, but left it to the President and Judicial Service Commission to extend their tenure in a manner that allowed competent and experienced judges on the law and jurisprudence to benefit the justice delivery system.
Minister Ziyambi said there will be a new amendment providing for 10 seats reserved for youths in Parliament.
There will also be another new insertion of the office of the Public Protector and his or her deputy to be appointed by the President after consultation with the JSC and the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.
A further amendment will be on provincial council where legislators would no longer sit on it and will not be chaired by the mayor of Harare and Bulawayo, but by persons elected from a party list.
Presenting a portfolio committee report on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, chairperson and Makoni South MP, Cde Misheck Mataranyika (Zanu PF), said during public hearings some people were of the view that the issue of running mates was noble since it created certainty on succession.
He added that some people also felt that Proportional Representation for women disadvantaged them in that they had no constituencies, with some suggesting that there be 105 geographical constituencies earmarked for women to contest among themselves, while the remaining half would be for men.
The view received standing ovation from female legislators.
Manicaland Proportional Representative, Ms Lynette Karenyi (MDC-Alliance), said there was need for a two-term limit cap for female legislators under the women’s quota as some were returning to Parliament under that provision in successive terms, taking advantage of their seniority in their political parties.
She said earmarking constituencies for women was more progressive because from what she observed the women’s quota concept had shown that female MPs were prone to sexual abuse from powerful and senior members of political parties.