CABINET in its last meeting of the year before it breaks for the festive holidays yesterday approved the Constitutional Amendment Bill of 2019 which will allow the President-elect to appoint two Vice-Presidents while repealing the provision of running mates.
The 2013 Constitution, through Section 92, has a 10-year transitional clause that provides for the joint election of the President and two running mates selected by the Presidential candidate.
Constitutional experts have always criticised the clause saying it is an “American concept” that can potentially precipitate a political crisis by creating two centres of power.
Presenting the 45th Cabinet Meeting Decisions Matrix in Harare yesterday, Information, Publicity and Publicity Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi presented the proposed amendments to Cabinet.
“Cabinet considered and approved the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2019 which the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi presented as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.
“Some of the salient amendments to be effected will include the following: Provision, under Section 94 of subsection (2) to allow the President-elect, as soon as he assumes office, to appoint two persons to be Vice-Presidents who shall take their oaths of Office before the Chief Justice or the next senior judge available as set out in the Third Schedule.
“It also set out in Section 95 the conditions under which a Vice-President will vacate office, which include resignation, removal by the President, serious misconduct, failure to uphold the Constitution or inability to perform the functions of the office due to physical or mental incapacity,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
On the issue of running mates, Section 92 of the Constitution, stipulates that the election of a President and Vice-Presidents must take place concurrently with every general election of Members of Parliament, provincial councils and local authorities.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Constitutional Amendment Bill will repeal the provision of the running mates which is viewed as an American concept.
Minister Ziyambi recently 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 in 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.
The Bill also proposes to extend by another 10 years, the provision of the election of the 60 women members in the National Assembly under proportional representation while also providing for the setting aside of one constituency per province for youths.
This will be done on proportional representation.
“We want to bring youths on board for them to continue with the country’s legacy. One youth from each of the country’s 10 provinces will be elected based on the party list on a proportional representation,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Meanwhile, MDC Vice President Tendai Biti was left fuming after Cabinet yesterday approved the Constitutional Amendment Bill of 2019 which among other issues gives the President-elect to appoint his two deputies as soon as he or she assumes office.
Writing on social media, Biti said the Zimbabwe Constitution is under seige from the ruling party.
“A constitution is a sacrosanct document that can’t be butchered on the altar of personal ambition and a subjective power retention agenda. Capturing the constitution to reproduce the ogre of a distorted corrupt mediocre power monger is unacceptable and must be resisted by all,” wrote Biti, Wednesday.