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Mugabe's flexi Constitution
Gandu, Mail & Guardian
September 02, 2005
On Tuesday Zanu PF
pushed through Parliament constitutional amendments designed to deny travel
visas to government critics, remove legal recourse to protect property
rights and reintroduce the Senate. The latest changes are the 17th
time Zimbabwe has tampered with its Constitution since independence in
1980. The Lancaster House Constitution, crafted in 1979, stated that the
Bill of Rights was not to be tampered with for 10 years.
The key changes are:
- Abolition of
seats reserved for whites in Parliament (Act 15 0f 1987) The Lancaster
House Constitution provided that the white minority would have 20 guaranteed
seats in Parliament for 5 years to have their economic and political
- Creation of
the Executive Presidency (Act 23 of 1987) It did away with the ceremonial
president and created an executive president. Robert Mugabe the then
prime minister, became head of government with executive powers and
privileges that included immunity from prosecution for offences committed
during his term of office.
of the unicameral Parliament (Act 31 of 1989) The two-chamber legislature
of the Senate (Upper House) and Parliament (lower house) was dropped.
The new Parliament allowed for 150 MPs, 20 appointed by the President,
and 10 seats were reserved for chiefs.
of the Office of Attorney General (Act 4 of 1993) The attorney general
assumed the role as chief legal adviser and sat in on cabinet meetings.
- Creation of
second vice-president (Act 15 of 1990) In 1987 Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu
signed a unity accord. The second vice president was created to accommodate
Joshua Nkomo, the then leader of PF-Zapu. The amendment was designed
to unite the two major ethnic groups (Shona and Ndebele) and ensure
equal representation in the presidium.
- Bestowal of
powers to compulsorily acquire land without the obligation to compensate
(Act No. 2000) This provision was further amended by the changes
that were pushed through Parliament this week denying legal recourse
to aggrieved farm owners.
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