Patch Potholes And Not The Constitution: Govt Urged

Tuesday, 21 February 2017  Radio VOP

HARARE – Government has been urged to redirect its priorities and energies towards programmes which have a bearing on the general livelihoods of citizens as opposed to pursuing legislative somersaults aimed at consolidating their continued stay in power.

Speaking at a public hearing meant to gauge the views of public on Constitutional Amendment (No.1) recently, one Reverend Machakaire said the powers that be should concentrate on patching the country’s potholed roads as opposed to patching the Constitution.

“I wish that you could channel the zeal you have towards patching the Constitution to patching roads which will be useful because when I listen to the debates in parliament, you are concerned at protecting yourselves,” Machakaire said.

The meeting was being conducted by legislators and is one of several similar meetings being held countrywide.

The controversial Constitutional Amendment seeks to give a sitting President the sole responsibility of selecting the judge president, chief justice and deputy chief justice to their positions.

Currently, eligible candidates are made to go through public interviews by the Judicial Service Commission while the President only comes in to select from the short listed candidates.

But Machakaire felt this was much ado about nothing in a country grappling with numerous man-made crises that should ordinarily be occupying legislators’ time.

He also said the decision to give the President the prerogative to decide who occupies the most influential job within the country’s judiciary would jeopardise the country’s efforts to restore full democracy.

“I am saddened by the fact that we have to amend the Constitution, but from the background I hail from, we have kept the same book the holy bible without any amendments.

“In regard to the appointment of the chief justice, we don’t expect President Mugabe or any president to select the candidate as this is a critical seat,” he said.

While all the speakers denounced the amendment, others were not happy with government’s failure to fully educate citizens on what was contained in the national charter before embarking on any attempts to amend it.

“Some of us don’t even know what is contained in the Constitution and what it entails but plans are already underway to amendment the document.

“Let’s concentrate with constitutional awareness among citizens before anything else,” said one Shelton Marange, a citizen who also attended the hearing.

Retired lawyer Alex Masterson took the chairperson of the committee to task questioning why there was not enough information about the hearings and why Harare was given in adequate time to air its views.

“I respectfully believe the notice of this meeting had been totally inadequate. I would like to know what notice was given presumably in the press, radio or TV? What notice was given and when?” he said.

During the meeting, Parliament’s and Legal Affairs Committee chair Ziyambi Ziyambi was at pains to convince the audience enough information was disseminated on the events.

Ziyambi also continuously urged members of the public not to ask questions but to air their views on the proposed law as was the procedure of such public hearings.

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