By Buhle Tshavango
DESPITE reservations by some Members of Parliament (MPs) regarding the amendment of the new constitution, arguing that it was too early, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said four years is enough time and the first constitutional amendment will carry on.
Mnangagwa who is also Minister responsible for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary affairs yesterday responded to issues raised by MPs during the second reading of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill [H. B. 1, 2017] which pertains to the appointment procedure of the Chief Justice.
The Vice President told the National Assembly that the disapproval by some MPs was uncalled for as he was acting within his mandate.
“I, as the Minister to whom the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs portfolio was assigned, have the unfettered mandate to propose amendments accordingly to the people’s wishes, the law and procedures available for the peace, order and good governance of the motherland,” he said.
In his response to arguments expresses by Honourable Anele Ndebele that it was too early to consider amending a four-year-old constitution, VP Mnangagwa gave South Africa as an example of a country that had amended its constitution less than a year after its enactment.
“…one may want to learn from even our neighbour, South Africa which adopted their Constitution in 1996 and started to be operational in 1997. The South African Constitution came into effect on 4th February 1997 and by 28th August 1997 barely seven months after the effective date, the late President Mandela was signing a constitutional amendment into law, with less than six months of it coming into effect.
“…As a comparative analysis, how do you reconcile the more than four years that our Constitution has been in effect and the less than seven months within which South Africans changed their Constitution? That notwithstanding, the South African people remain proud of their Constitution even when it was changed within six months,” he added.
Constitutionally there is no provision prescribing or limiting the time within which proposals to amend the Constitution can be made, but rather directions on the procedure that must be followed when amending the Constitution in terms of Section 328 on amendment of Constitution.