Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
Cabinet yesterday approved constitutional amendments that will see the scrapping of the concept of running mates on Presidential elections and extend the women’s quota system by another 10 years beyond 2023.
The envisaged changes will also create 10 parliamentary seats for the youths, among other changes.
This was announced by acting Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Prof Amon Murwira while addressing journalists on the 37th Cabinet decision matrix.
“Cabinet considered and approved Principles for the Amendment of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (No. 20 Act, 2013) which was presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The Principles have been prompted by the need to amend provisions that are perceived to be contradictory or conflicting, thereby rendering implementation of the Constitution inherently problematic. The Principles will also add entirely new provisions as well as amend the Constitution as follows: to amend the constitutional provision for Provincial Councils in order to exclude Members of Parliament in light of the oversight role of Parliament,” said Prof Murwira, who is Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister.
“The proposals will extend by another 10 years the provision for the election of the 60 women members in Parliament under proportional representation following which a further review shall be conducted, remove provisions of Section 92 of the Constitution relating to the issue of running mates in accordance with the practice prevailing in the SADC region; provide for the setting aside of one constituency per province, to be contested for by the Youth on the basis of proportional representation.”
Explaining the rationale of removing running mates, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the concept had the effect of creating parallel centres of power.
“You all remember that it was one of the contentious issues when we had our constitution and it was deferred for 10 years because it is a borrowed concept from America. It is not even an international best practice where you have a President given executive authority, we do not ordinarily want to create a parallel centre of power. We believe it is not desirable on our constitutional dispensation to create separate centres of power. We would rather have a President elected by the people and then appoints his team, Vice President and Cabinet that is the thinking, that is what is practised in Southern Africa and several countries,” said Minister Ziyambi.
“On the youth quota, the proposal is to increase our seats by 10 and have each province get one youth representative, so parties will submit their names of candidates and depending on the votes in the province the party with the majority will have its candidate in Parliament, so we are not cutting down on anything.”
Earlier on Prof Murwira said the Government sought to amend Section 161 of the Constitution to de-link the delimitation of electoral boundaries from population censuses, provide for the inclusion of the office of the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet in the Constitution, provide for the appointment of the Prosecutor-General by the President, and for the establishment of the Office of the Public Protector; and amend the heading of Section 271 of the Constitution by the inclusion of “and Metropolitan Councils.”
Prof Murwira said Cabinet considered and approved the Principles of the Proposed Judicial Laws Amendment Bill which was presented Minister Ziyambi.
He said the Bill seek to amend the Magistrates Court, Labour and High Court Acts.
Some of the issues related to increasing the jurisdiction of Magistrates in civil cases to those involving monetary values of $300 000 in the first instance.
Other issues are to amend the Labour Act to afford Judges of the Labour Court powers to execute their own judgements, amendment of Section 93(5)(a) of the Labour Act to include a proviso requiring the joinder of an employee to an application for the confirmation of a Labour Officer’s ruling; and amendment of the Magistrates Court Act to increase the power of review of Regional Magistrates