Constitutional amendments, the opposition’s frustrations
Last week, President Mnangagwa signed into law two amendments to the Constitution, much to the chagrin and frustration of his detractors and anti-Government elements in the opposition and the civil society sector, who had been fighting spiritedly against the amendments.
While this was a serious matter of national importance, one could not help but laugh at the opposition and the reaction of its hangers-on to the gazetting of the amendments and the way that they fought the changes.
Instead of informing its members of the benefits and the disadvantages of the changes so that they would participate in the public hearings on the matter from an informed point of view, the opposition, especially the MDC Alliance (MDC-A) faction, as usual played cheap politics.
It dismissed the amendments as a Zanu PF issue which every Zimbabwean should hate and reject with every ounce of their being, instead of treating it as a national matter.
This resulted in the faction forcing its grudge with MDC-T leader, Douglas Mwonzora, into the matter by accusing him and legislators from his party of siding with Zanu PF as if they are not entitled to their own views on any national matter in Zimbabwe.
This cost the faction heavily.
When the faction’s vice chairperson, Job Sikhala, was commenting on Twitter on the Senate voting on May 4 2021, he said, “Voting in the Senate has ended. 65 voted yes and 10 voted No. I doubt whether the two thirds majority threshold has been reached.”
This exposed the faction being clueless even on simple arithmetic.
When it was shown to him that his faction’s wishes had failed, Sikhala could only dejectedly tweet that, “I hoped against hope.”
Put differently, his faction’s main strategies in tackling the amendments were hope and hatred for Mwonzora.
Stung by the defeat in Parliament, the MDC-A faction, as usual, responded by putting together a team of lawyers to appeal against the passing of the amendments.
The faction’s vice president, Tendai Biti, told online publication, News Hawks, that “we have a team of lawyers dealing with this, so some will challenge Constitutional Amendment Number 1 and others will deal with the other one, Amendment Number 2.”
The publication indicated that Biti had told it that his faction would “launch a fierce court battle against President Mnangagwa’s 2023 re-election agenda.”
Many people laughed at the opposition’s feeble attempt to make up for its cluelessness and political weakness by using strong words like “fierce” to appease its obviously angry and frustrated members.
Players in the civil society sector such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) also sought to milk Western donors by making attempts at opposing the amendments when they had already been gazetted.
ZimRights originated an e-petition for anti-Government elements to sign as a protest gesture.
Activist Hopewell Chin’ono latched onto the initiative, but was frustrated by the way very few people interested themselves in the matter.
“This anti-Constitutional Amendments petition is now at 7 230 signatures. Surely, you can’t tell me that only 7 230 Zimbabweans on social media are enraged by the mutilation of their constitution to create a one-man dictatorship,” Chin’ono tweeted in his usual self-righteous fashion.
He should know that he cannot have his cake and eat it too.
He cannot block other Twitter users at the slightest difference in views and still expect the same people to support some of the issues that he believes in.
That would be unreasonable.
Even the baseless hater of President Mnangagwa, Professor Jonathan Moyo, took sides with the MDC-A faction, to which he is mentor, and aimed at Mwonzora instead of debating the amendments.
Prof Moyo shamelessly exposed his bias against the ruling party and disregarded what the Constitution says about amending it.
He accused Mwonzora of treachery.
“Zanu PF did not have a two thirds majority in the Senate on 4 May 2021 to pass Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 2 Bill. As in the House (National Assembly), it is your MDC-T that gave Zanu PF the two thirds. Are you ashamed of your treachery?” he said.
The Constitution never specifies that the political party, which is pushing for the amendment should have two thirds of its own members supporting the Amendment Bill for it to pass.
Section 328 item 5 of the Constitution clearly says that “a Constitutional Bill must be passed at its last reading in National Assembly and the Senate, by the affirmative votes of two-thirds of the membership of each House.”
There is no reference whatsoever to political parties. Prof Moyo was just angry that Mwonzora did not oppose Zanu PF’s position as would be expected of Zimbabwean opposition parties.
Instead, Mwonzora demonstrated that opposition is not just about opposing everything that the ruling party says or does.
He showed that being in opposition does not mean that one has to be sworn enemies with the ruling party even on important issues which would benefit the nation such as the extension of the women’s quota and the introduction of the youth quota in Parliament.
The MDC in its various formations and factions has benefitted from the women’s quota in Parliament since 2013 and neither MDC-A leader, Nelson Chamisa, nor his predecessor, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, opposed it.
Mwonzora refused to be forced into the pockets of the Chamisas and the Professor Moyos of this country.
He chose to be his own man and picked what was good for Zimbabweans.
It is interesting to note that what Biti, Chamisa, Prof Moyo and Sikhala were opposing on the appointment of judges is what prevails in the United States of America, which they all worship.
According to www.uscourts.gov, Supreme Court judges, court of appeals judges, and district court judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate in line with that country’s Constitution.
This is not materially different from what Government was seeking to achieve under Amendment Bill Number 1.
What irked the opposition officials most was the fact that this was being driven by Zanu PF, which has been running rings around them during every election season since 2000.
While the MDC-A, Prof Moyo and Chin’ono are throwing tantrums over the issue of Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s term of office, in the US Judges have lifetime tenures.
This exposes the opposition’s political dishonesty.
Instead of assessing issues on the basis of their merits and demerits, the opposition was just opposing the amendment on the basis of the fact that Chief Justice Malaba presided over Chamisa’s August 24 2018 Constitutional Court election petition.
Chamisa lost the case because he failed to provide evidence to back his accusations of poll theft against President Mnangagwa.
Chief Justice Malaba was just discharging his constitutional mandate and nursed no grudge against the opposition politician.
Until the opposition learns to mature politically, it is likely to continue wallowing in frustration. It has to stop its cry baby mentality if it is to gain the respect of Zimbabweans.
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