ZANU PF is mulling using its super majority in Parliament to effect a raft of constitutional amendments, including raising the minimum age for presidential aspirants from the current 40 years to 55, the Daily News can report.
Widely seen as targeted at MDC Alliance presidential candidate in the just-ended harmonised elections — 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa — who was beaten by a razor-thin margin by Zanu PF candidate and President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa, this planned constitutional amendment will most certainly dent the youthful opposition leader’s presidential aspirations.
In the presidential poll — whose results the MDC Alliance has since challenged in the Constitutional Court — Mnangagwa polled 50,8 percent of the vote while Chamisa won 44,3 percent, according to results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
In the National Assembly, Zanu PF won 145 of the 210 contested seats, while their closest rivals — the MDC Alliance — garnered 63.
The other two — Norton and Kwekwe Central — were won by independent candidates Temba Mliswa and Masango Matambanadzo respectively.
A winning ruling party legislator, Joseph Chinotimba, hinted on this at Zanu PF’s legislative agenda on Monday, during a rally to celebrate his victory in Buhera.
Chinotimba — who retained the National Assembly seat for Buhera South Constituency — said he will introduce a motion in Parliament to change the age limit for one to stand as a presidential candidate.
“I want the presidential age limit to change from 40 years to 55 or 60 years. I am going to introduce this motion in Parliament. This is because some of the presidential candidates are very young; they are not yet mature to lead this nation,” he gushed.
“We want people who know the history of this country, people who are responsible for their actions. I am not going to do this for Chamisa but I think it’s very important for our country.”
Since the promulgation of the national charter in 2013, Zanu PF has made it clear that it is unhappy with some of its provisions.
Last year, the Constitution was amended for the first time when the ruling party rescinded provisions on the appointment of the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President of the High Court.
Unlike in the past when the Judicial Services Commission would make these critical appointments through an interview process, office holders are now being appointed by the president following the constitutional amendments.
More amendments could be in the offing.
For instance, Zanu PF youth league chairperson Pupurai Togarepi — who was recently elected as Gutu South Member of Parliament — has also said his first contribution in Parliament would be seeing to it that all political parties calling for sanctions are punished.
“This Parliament will pass the Patriotic Act. Anyone who calls for economic sanctions to be hanged and their political parties banned. It is going to be my first contribution in Parliament so that it will come to fruition. We know that Tendai Biti went to America to call for sanctions.”
“It’s not good that you want to be a leader but you are calling for sanctions. You are a Zimbabwean, you want Zimbabwean people to suffer. This is not good. People who are calling for sanctions must not look for higher offices in Zimbabwe. Why don’t we go to Parliament so that we prohibit all those who are calling for sanctions? Zimbabweans are suffering because of these people, we want to stop this.”
Also, Zanu PF youth league political commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu weighed in saying Parliament must urgently enact laws which prohibit unauthorised persons to negotiate with foreign governments.
“After … Biti’s continuous boasting that he worked to sabotage Zimbabwe economy, & that they will work to do so again, the next Parliament must urgently have on its order of business, a motion to enact a law similar to the USA’s LOGAN ACT. The Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 18 U.S.C. § 953, enacted January 30, 1799) is a United States federal law that criminalises negotiation by unauthorised persons with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States,” Tsenengamu posted on his Facebook page.
However, Zanu PF legal secretary Paul Mangwana said they prefer engagements as the party.
“We oppose the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe. America has no business in our internal affairs. We want to reach out to those who are imposing sanctions on us as you know that our president says Zimbabwe is open for business. As a party, we prefer engagement,” Mangwana said.
This comes after United States President Donald Trump last week signed into law a new regime of sanctions against Zimbabwe, bringing to an end hopes for better ties with the Washington administration.
The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act of 2018, which amends the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, was introduced into Congress on March 22.
Congress overwhelmingly approved the legislation, passing a measure that had outlined the steps the southern African country must fulfil for US-imposed sanctions to be lifted, namely the holding of “free and fair” elections.
But the apparent olive branch was taken away soon after the crackdown on protesters was unfurled while the votes were still being counted, in front of many observers, including US observers, with the policy of rapprochement quickly replaced by hawkish calls in Washington for tougher sanctions on Harare if no halt to the crackdown was implemented.
Trump signed the bill behind closed doors, without the fanfare that has customarily accompanied his signing of executive orders.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu said the youths were free to air their own views.
“As the youth league, they have their own ideas and programmes but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the position of the party,” he said.
There are fears that Zanu PF will use its majority in Parliament to literally change the Constitution, change cardinal acts and hold sway over appointment of government officials, leaders of independent State organs.
Minorities in Parliament will have little sway over the decisions given that the super majority being enjoyed gives the party unchallenged plenary lawmaking authority regardless of the quality of their electoral majority.
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