THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Constitutional Amendment (No.17) Bill passes
Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights (ZLHR)
August 30, 2005

ZLHR confirms that the Constitutional Amendment (No.17) Bill was passed in Parliament on the afternoon of Tuesday 30 August 2005 by a vote of 103 for, and 29 against. The voting regrettably proceeded along party lines, which confirms that Members of Parliament adhered to their party policies rather than voting in the interests of their constituents. There had been vast public outcry and opposition to the contents of the Bill and its impact on the general citizenry, which disappointingly was blatantly ignored by the legislators.

Minister of Justice, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, remarked that the amendments were justified in order to protect the national and economic interests of the state. In particular the derogations to the right to freedom of movement were necessary to deal with the political campaign for official and unofficial sanctions and for the international isolation of the government. As regards the amendments to the protection of property, Chinamasa indicated that the passage of the Bill was the last phase of the Third Chimurenga and decolonisation, and would bring finality to the land redistribution programme.

Such comments indicate a worrying lack of appreciation of the need for the protection of fundamental human rights and the need by the state to adhere to minimum human rights norms and standards in terms of the various international instruments to which Zimbabwe is a State Party and is therefore bound. The Minister’s comments also portray a high level of intolerance to alternative views on the part of the state. They also betray an intention to asphyxiate human rights defenders and convert them into prisoners in their own country.

ZLHR condemns in the strongest possible terms this latest amendment of a flawed Constitution, which has served to render the Judiciary impotent and has highlighted the Executive’s insistence on placing personal interests and patronage before the economic and socio-political interests of the people of Zimbabwe. The legislators have failed in their duty to protect all their constituents from the endless attacks to their basic rights and freedoms, and continue to ignore the universal calls for a consultative process of wholesale constitutional reform.

Such a stance can only lead to an anarchic state where there is no adherence whatsoever to the principle of constitutionalism and the rule of law, and will only serve to drag the country more quickly to complete disintegration. ZLHR reiterates that Zimbabwe’s full integration into the international community will be a natural by-product of full adherence to universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms rather than passage of a litany of repressive pieces of legislation against its own people.

Visit the ZLHR fact sheet

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.