THE MDC Alliance has claimed that the ruling Zanu PF party is plotting more amendments to the Constitution designed to bar its leader Nelson Chamisa from taking part in the 2023 elections.
The claims were made yesterday by MDC Alliance deputy chairperson Job Sikhala (Zengeza West MP), who claimed that after Constitution Amendment (No 2) Bill, which is currently before Senate, Zanu PF wanted to set an age limit for presidential aspirants at 52 years. Chamisa, who was born on February 2, 1978, would be 45 in 2023 and rendered out of contention.
“Good people, ED (President Emmerson Mnangagwa)’s regime is plotting to amend the Constitution and the Electoral Act once more again to peg the presidential age to 52. Their target is the people’s president Nelson Chamisa and I (Sikhala). Biti (MDC Alliance vice-president Tendai Biti) will be barred via a provision to be inserted in
the Patriotic Bill,” Sikhala posted on Twitter.
But Zanu PF chief whip Pupurai Togarepi yesterday said the amendments were not specific to Chamisa, but the office.
“That’s a lie and MDC Alliance or whatever they are called has always been a front of misinformation in this country.
“I can tell you without any doubt that’s not on our agenda. The constitutional amendment is not targeted at an individual or organisation, but it is there to deal with some gaps in our Constitution. There were areas that were parked during the constitution making process which had to be dealt with to avoid unnecessary contradictions.”
“It’s inherent in the Constitution that whenever the need arises it can be amended to ensure the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe are protected. Chamisa is just one Zimbabwean, a loser for that matter, who cannot warrant attention to the level of amending the Constitution with him in mind. The MDC Alliance is known for always trying to raise their profile through lies, fake abductions and criminal activities. Zanu PF MPs will not lose sleep because such perennial liars are on the loose again,” Togarepi said.
While Togarepi claimed that the proposed amendments to the Constitution were not targeted at Chamisa, Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said more amendments were possible as Zanu PF enjoyed a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
Mangwana said the opposition and civic society organisations should “shut up” after they urged Senate to stop the Constitution Amendment (No 2) Bill from sailing through in the House.
If passed, it will give unfettered power to the President.
“The opposition must shut up. They should have had a two-thirds majority in Parliament, and if they did not they should just keep quiet,” Mangwana told NewsDay yesterday.
“We agreed that those, who get two-thirds majority in Parliament, have the right to amend the Constitution so if you don’t have that keep quiet.”
Asked to respond on suggestions that Zanu PF was addressing its internal succession issues by amending the Constitution on the running mate clause, Mangwana claimed the party had no issues to address.
“We don’t have internal issues at all. If we had issues we wouldn’t all be supporting the amendments. Zanu PF is supporting the amendments because it is united and there is an agreement to change those,” Mangwana said.
“We amend the Constitution while also aligning laws to the Constitution. The two processes are going on together.”
Some opposition senators last week questioned aspects of the Bill, particularly the scrapping off of elected vice-presidents under a running mate system and clauses amending the provisions for appointment of judges.
The senators said the proposed amendments had the effect of creating a dictatorship by giving the President unfettered power.
The senators also questioned the extension of the retirement age for the chief justice, the deputy chief justice and judges of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court from 70 to 75.
Zanu PF used its majority in Parliament to quash all the opposing views by opposition legislators during Committee Stage of the Bill. Senate is expected to vote for the passage of Constitution Amendment (No 2) Bill tomorrow.