Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
ZANU-PF must use the overwhelming mandate it was given by the people to undo some of the retrogressive compromises it made to the MDC formations in the constitution-making process to make the resultant document truly Zimbabwean, analysts have said. The newConstitution was spearheaded by a select committee of Parliament made up of the three parties that constituted the Seventh Parliament, Zanu-PF, MDC-T and the MDC.
The MDC formations, particularly MDC-T, were accused of pitching alien concepts among them homosexuality that was rejected but a few compromises were incorporated into the new Constitution.
Responding to assertions by Zanu-PF deputy secretary for legal affairs Cde Patrick Chinamasa that Zanu-PF would not take advantage of its overwhelming two-thirds majority to amend the constitution, various interest groups said Zanu-PF must not lose sight of the fact that the votes it received amounted to a complete rejection of what the MDCs stand for, part of which they had included in the Constitution.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairperson Cde Jabulani Sibanda said if a political party had two-thirds majority in Parliament; it can amend the constitution anytime when the need arises.
“A Constitution is a document put in place by people to protect their rights. The role of Parliament is to enable people’s views and needs to be seen by amending the Constitution when it is necessary. You cannot say the Constitution is still new so it cannot be amended when there is a good reason to do so,” he said.
“There is no time-frame as to when the Constitution should be amended.”
He said amendment of the constitution is done by the people through their representatives in the August House.
Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe, Trevor Manhanga said any party strives to get two thirds majority in Parliament to influence policies and make certain amendments to the Constitution.
“There is nothing sinister, untoward, illegal or unconstitutional if Zanu-PF using its two thirds majority gained in the recently held harmonised elections decides to amend the constitution as they will be acting on the mandate they have received from the electorate,” he said.
“This is why parties contest elections — to gain the right to rule and implement their policies as outlined in their manifestos. It is common knowledge that there were certain clauses that were adopted in the writing of the Constitution that were compromise clauses to all political parties that were part of the constitution making exercise.
“Anyone of them, if they had gained a two thirds majority would in all likelihood want to amend those compromise clauses.
“I know for example that the section dealing with marriage seemed to give the right to gays and lesbians to “form families”.
“Many church leaders took this matter up with Zanu-PF as we saw this as an attempt for the gay community to gain legitimacy for same sex unions.”
He said church leaders would soon engage Zanu-PF with a view to amend such clauses. Bishop Manhanga said gay marriages should not be accommodation in the constitution in whatever form.
“I know that there are other sectors of society who would desire to see other problematic clauses fine tuned and Zanu-PF itself may desire to fine tune other clauses. There is nothing wrong with that at all.”
Zimbabwe Union of Democrats founder Ms Margaret Dongo said if there is any need to change the constitution, Zanu-PF can do it anytime because of its controlling hand in Parliament.
“They (Zanu-PF) have absolute power to amend the constitution,” she said.
“If the party feels there is need to amend the constitution, they can do that anytime despite the fact the constitution was passed recently.”
A prominent Harare lawyer who spoke on condition of anonymity said the new Constitution was a compromise document that left a lot to be desired.
“I have not seen a party the world over with a two thirds majority that has not used that controlling stake to rationalise and align the Constitution with the aspirations of the people,” she said.
“Two thirds majority do not come in every election and there is a reason why the people of Zimbabwe gave Zanu-PF that mandate.
“During its campaigns Zanu-PF told its supporters that the new Constitution was a necessary compromise that would be dealt with if the party wins the elections.
“If the party failed to deal with those compromises that will be a betrayal of the people’s trust.”
The lawyer dismissed the notion by Zimbabwe’s detractors and election losers that if Zanu-PF used its two thirds majority in Parliament that would scare away investors.
“There is view out there that Zanu-PF should not use its two thirds majority because that will scare away investors.
“The party should use that controlling mandate to restore the confidence of voters who are more important than investors.
“The country never ran elections on the basis of investors but voters so Zanu-PF should implement the will of the people without fear or favour,” she said.