Draft constitution through

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THE House of Assembly yesterday unanimously passed Constitution Amendment Bill No 20 (Copac draft) with amendments after two days of debate in the Lower House, setting the stage for formal endorsement by the Senate next week before it becomes the new supreme charter.

Paidamoyo Muzulu

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga was elated after the house passed the bill with the 10 new amendments to the gazetted draft constitution, which include clarifications on the proposed proportional representation electoral system that was introduced in the new governance charter after being repealed in 1990.

The changes are the second high profile amendments made to the draft since it was endorsed in the March 16 referendum.

Matinenga introduced the amendments during the second reading of the Constitution Amendment Bill.The new draft charter, among other new systems, introduces a dual electoral system but does not clearly spell out how the proportional representation candidates would be selected.

The new changes would clarify Section 124 (1) (b) on how the new 60 women would be appointed to the National Assembly through proportional representation for the next two parliaments.

Section 124 (1) (b) would now read: “For the life of the first two parliaments after the effective date, an additional sixty (60) women members, six from each of the provinces into which Zimbabwe is divided, elected under a party list system of proportional representation based on the votes cast for candidates representing political parties in a general election for constituency members in the provinces.”

This means political parties would now have to create party lists that would be lodged with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission during the nomination process before election results are announced.
“The changes were agreed to by all parties at the Copac management committee meeting held on Monday to bring clarity to how the system would work,” said Matinenga.

The other nine changes are deletions of repetitions and names to some sections, for instance, Section 272 that creates provincial legislatures.

The chairpersons would now be known as “chairpersons of provincial councils” instead of “chairpersons of provincial and metropolitan councils’’ as initially stated.The changes would make the chairpersons title uniform since Zimbabwe only has two metropolitan provinces – Harare and Bulawayo.

This is in line with the proposed devolution of power to provinces.

President Robert Mugabe is expected to sign the bill into law soon after senate formally passes it, which could be as early as next Friday.

Passage of the new constitution paves the way for Zimbabwe to hold general elections later this year after parliament amends laws such as the Electoral Act, Urban Councils Act and Rural District Councils Act to align them with the new constitution.

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