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sparks heated debate in House
August 24, 2005
THERE was heated
debate in Parliament yesterday between Zanu-PF and MDC lawmakers
on the Constitution of
Zimbabwe Amendment Bill that seeks, among other issues, to provide
for the reintroduction of the Senate.
The debate on the proposed law lasted for almost seven hours with
Zanu-PF MPs supporting its provisions while those from the MDC opposed
Chairperson of the Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Cde Shadreck Chipanga told Parliament that the committee had conducted
a public hearing on the Bill and had received mixed feelings from
He said the committee only managed to conduct a single public hearing
in Harare owing to financial constraints.
Cde Chipanga, who is also the Makoni East MP, said after the committee
had deliberated on the divergent views given by stakeholders on
the proposed Senate, it came to the conclusion that a bicameral
legislature should be put in place.
The legislator said those opposed to the provisions of the Bill
in relation to the Senate argued that all the 66 senators should
be duly elected on the basis of proportional representation to ensure
that all sectors of society were adequately represented.
"It was submitted that the fact that the President was empowered
to appoint (six) non-elected senators would compromise the democratic
"It was argued that the President already has the power to appoint
non-elected Members of Parliament in the House of Assembly and this
had the effect of increasing the number of parliamentarians without
a constituency," Cde Chipanga said.
He said there should be further debate on the issue of proportional
representation as opposed to the first-past-the-poll system.
Turning to the amendment seeking to confirm land acquisition that
took place from 2000 onwards and for future land acquisition, Cde
Chipanga said there were also mixed feelings on the provisions.
He said some supported the amendment, saying it would conclude land
question while others opposed it.
"Many noted that the injustices visited upon us by our past colonial
history, where our forebears lost their land without compensation
and were relocated to barren and inhospitable pieces of land, required
such law. It was submitted that, indeed, the consequences might
be harsh to some sections, but in the final analysis the end justified
Cde Chipanga said it was also submitted that provisions of the Bill
seeking to bar courts from hearing appeals on acquired land violated
Section 18 (1) of the Constitution guaranteeing everyone the right
to have disputes over civil rights decided after a fair hearing
by an independent and impartial court or tribunal.
"Your committee further recommends that it would be in the furtherance
of tenets of natural justice that any aggrieved persons be given
the right to approach the courts for arbitration where there is
a dispute," Cde Chipanga said.
The lawmaker said there was overwhelming consensus on the provisions
of the Bill seeking to establish the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) as the sole body in charge of elections while abolishing the
Electoral Supervisory Commission.
Cde Chipanga, however, said there were some quarters which felt
that problems would still remain in the overall administration of
elections if the Registrar-General and Elections Directorate remained
Further, he said, the manner in which the appointment of ZEC members
was done was also criticised as vesting much power in the hands
of the President.
Contributing to the debate, Government Chief Whip Cde Joram Gumbo
supported the provisions of the Bill, saying the land issue must
be resolved once and for all.
"We cannot be challenged by the courts when we want to resettle
our people. This time let us take the bull by the horns," he said.
Bulawayo North-East MP Professor Welshman Ncube (MDC) said there
was need for a holistic constitutional reform process as opposed
to what he termed "piecemeal constitutional reforms".
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Leader of
the House Cde Patrick Chinamasa said he would respond to the issues
raised by the committee and the parliamentarians today.
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