The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has accused civil society organisations of suppressing the voices of ordinary Zimbabweans through smuggling members in each outreach session to give rehearsed contributions.
This allegation comes as the committee has just concluded public consultations on the second Constitutional Amendment Bill.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill seeks to empower the President to appoint Vice Presidents and extend women’s quota by another two Parliamentary terms.
In their report, the committee said the groups had a clause in which NGOs showed curious interest.
“On the running mate debate, the committee noted that the majority of the people were of the view that we should retain the running mate clause and do away with a system of appointment of Vice Presidents by the President,” the report read.
But the committee said they have reason to believe responses on this matter were carefully curated to produce a certain outcome.
“The committee observed that there were members of civic society organisations who were moving from venue to venue replaying the same points and advancing the same arguments, thereby making it difficult to conclude whether these were general views or influenced views,” read the report.
The report noted that from the engagements, the people did not know matters in the Bill, which made them easy targets for manipulation.
In its recommendations to Parliament, the committee said in order to enhance the quality of contributions, there must be efforts to inform people of Bill contents as a way of countering manipulation by “sponsored groups”.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi tabled the Bill in Parliament last week.