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Joint Civil Society Statementon the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.2) Bill

Joint Civil Society Statement on the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.2) Bill For Immediate Release 29 April 2021 We, the undersigned Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Zimbabwe, note with serious concern the passing of the controversial Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 2 by the National Assembly on 20 April 2021. It is very disturbing that the proposed amendments to the Constitution are being introduced at a time when the May 2013 Constitution has not been fully implemented. The amendments relate to critical thematic areas that include the appointment and retirement of members of the judiciary, appointment of the head of prosecution, removal of running mate provisions, extension of proportional representation provisions for female parliamentarians, composition of executive and legislative oversight role among other amendments. Since the introduction of the Bill, we the undersigned CSOs, have expressed our reservations to this process and made several calls on all progressive citizens and duty bearers to reject this Bill as it reverses the gains that were ushered in by the 2013 Constitution. The adoption of this Bill will undoubtedly centralise too much power in the executive, particularly the President. Besides widening the scope of Presidential powers and undermining democratic accountability, this Bill unilaterally increases the size of central government and imposes an unprecedented burden on the already suffering citizenry. Taxpayers will bear the primary burden of a bloated government. The proposed amendments on the promotion of judges to the superior courts and extension of tenure of office for judges over 70 years will greatly compromise the independence of the judiciary. The proposed sections of the Amendment Bill are a backward step in the pursuit of democracy, accountability, the divisions of governmental power, representativeness, the rule of law and human rights in Zimbabwe. The adoption of the Bill entails further strengthening of the President’s powers while weakening the mechanisms intended to hold the President to account for his or her actions, wrongdoing and in some cases, illegal conduct. The adoption of the Bill also sets precedence to future and further amendments to the Constitution which will additionally undermine the democratic and civic space in Zimbabwe. Hence, the undersigned CSOs condemn this development. In essence, the Amendment Bill dilutes democracy, weakens the rule of law and undermines the promotion and protection of human rights in Zimbabwe, particularly those of a civil and political nature. At this juncture, the country is supposed to be focusing on the alignment of laws to the new Constitution, fully implementing provisions of the Constitution and not amending it. We the undersigned CSOs in Zimbabwe call for alignment of laws with the Constitution. The amendments are a mockery to democracy, a recipe for disaster and a violation of the principle of separation of powers. The undersigned CSOs in Zimbabwe therefore call on all progressive citizens to: · Condemn and reject this amendment through all appropriate legal means; · Call on state actors to fully implement provisions of the Constitution · Call on those responsible within government to fully align all laws with the Constitution · Hold to account, one way or the other, their representatives in the National Assembly who voted for the Amendment. Ends// Signed Organisations; 1. Abammeli Rights Lawyers Network 2. Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe 3. Build A Better Youth- Zim 4. Buhera Residents Association 5. Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural Residents Association 6. Chitungwiza Community Development Network 7. Chinhoyi Residents Trust 8. Chitungwiza Residents Trust 9. Combined Harare Residents Association 10. Combined Restitution Association for Zimbabwean Youths 11. Counselling Services Unit 12. Economic Justice for Women 13. Election Resource Centre 14. Female Students Network 15. Gweru East Ratepayers Union for Development 16. Heal Zimbabwe Trust 17. Institute for Young Women Development 18. Legal Resources Foundation 19. Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance 20. Media Institute of Southern Africa 21. Media Alliance of Zimbabwe 22. Mutasa Youth Forum 23. Platform for Youth and Community Development Trust 24. Poets for Human Rights 25. Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe 26. Savannah Trust 27. Student Christian Movement Zimbabwe 28. Students Solidarity Trust 29. The Eastern Caucus 30. United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust 31. Vendors Initiative for Socio-Economic Transformation 32. Victory Siyanqoba Trust 33. Wedza Residents Development Initiative Trust 34. Women in Law in Southern Africa 35. Youth Alliance for Democracy 36. Youth Dialogue Action Network 37. Youth Forum 38. Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights 39. Zimbabwe Christian Alliance 40. Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development 41. Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions 42. Zimbabwe Divine Destiny 43. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights 44. Zimbabwe Human Rights Association 45. Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum 46. Zimbabwe National Students Union

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