ALTHOUGH the latest draft constitution dilutes the executive powers of the president, it is likely to create a bloated cabinet and enlarged parliament as some of the sections propose to increase the National Assembly membership to 270 from the current 210, with an unlimited number of cabinet ministers.
This flies in the face of calls for a leaner government by the MDC formations after many years of a bloated government, and re-introduction of the senate in 2005.
Section 6.9(b) of the draft reads: “For the life of the first two parliaments after the effective date, an additional 60 women members, six from each of the provinces into which Zimbabwe is divided, elected through a system of proportional representation based on the votes cast for candidates representing political parties in a general election for constituency members in the provinces.”
On cabinet, Section 5.18 says: “There shall be a cabinet consisting of the president, as head of the cabinet, the vice-presidents and such ministers as the president may appoint to the cabinet.”
However, Section 5.17 (4) says in appointing ministers and deputy ministers, the president must be guided by considerations of regional and gender balance.
Political and legal analysts expressed disappointment at the clauses which have the effect of enlarging parliament and cabinet, and view it as an act of political expediency and patronage under the guise of ethnic and gender balancing.
Legal analyst Petina Gappah said the draft is clearly a “politicians’ charter”.
“The failure to specify a maximum number of ministers would be fine if we had an austerity-minded president,” said Gappah. “But I fear this will be used to reward the party faithfuls. I see a more bloated cabinet on the cards. I am very disappointed by these sections.”
Political commentator and international relations specialist Jonathan Gandari said the clauses would spawn unnecessary expenditures and waste of public resources.
“I think an enlarged parliament and unlimited cabinet is a big let-down and misrepresentation of the aspirations and dreams of the nation,” Gandari said.
“It’s a scandal and unbridled greed meant to create jobs for politicians when 90% of this nation is unemployed.”
Public officials are showered with luxury vehicles and allowances, and stay in posh hotels when on official business locally and internationally.
The clauses seem to ignore the fact that the country’s population is small and the economy is struggling.
Legal expert and MDC-T technical advisor on Copac, Alex Magaisa, admitted the draft was not an ideal document, but pointed out it was the best under the circumstances.
“The final draft is a product of negotiation,” said Magaisa. “It is a product of give and take. The approach is not amenable to the production of the most beautiful constitution, but idealism has to be married to realpolitik.”