Opposition MDC-T senators Tuesday rejected the Constitutional Amendment No 2 Bill which among other things scraps the running mate clause.
The senators demanded that the “running mate” clause that had been struck down by the Lower House be retained.
Their counterparts in the National Assembly last Tuesday sided with Zanu-PF legislators to pass the Bill which also gives the President the power to handpick the Chief Justice and deputy.
Clauses 3, 4 and 5 of the Bill propose to do away with the “running mate” provision which compels the President to be elected on the same ticket with his two deputies.
Midlands senator Morgen Komichi said adopting the amendments reverts the country back to the Robert Mugabe era, where Executive powers were concentrated on the President. He said:
The powers that were taken and were being used during the old dispensation were too many. The President had too much power before the new dispensation and it created what we call a big man. In other words, it created a dictator. People become frightened when the Constitution is amended. The powers that were stripped from one person are now going back to that person (President).
When (Tanzanian) President (John) Magufuli passed away, the following day Madame President (Samia Suluhu Hassan ) was sworn-in and there was no problem. So why can we not do the same as Zimbabwe? Do we think that when people are chosen as the first and second Vice-Presidents, they become enemies of the President of the nation?
Harare Metropolitan senator Elias Mudzuri said passing the bill would be a betrayal of the will of the electorate who endorsed it in 2013.
Masvingo senator Tichinani Mavetera (MDC-T) said Zimbabwe must avoid episodes of Mugabe’s last days in power when president Emmerson Mnangagwa, then Vice President, was publicly humiliated by former first lady Grace Mugabe who told him ‘you work at the mercy of the President’. Mavetera added:
When you have the President appointing the Judiciary, we have got a problem. Where is that independence? One who appoints can disappoint, I know we have got party jackets, but those jackets are not above national jackets. This is an onerous responsibility bestowed on us to defend the institution called Parliament.
Masvingo senator Esinath Rwambiwa then suggested that the proposed amendment should go for a public hearing.
The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi, suggested that the ruling party was wary of the running mate clause because there was a possibility that the VP can initiate an impeachment process against the president.
This is happening amid reports of factionalism in the ruling party with some claiming that VP Chiwenga is leading a faction that is eyeing to replace Mnangagwa.