Some pointers for the constitution-makers

makumbe_headerThe current constitution gives so much power to the executive that some of our ministers now behave like little gods
It is not too early to start thinking about what we would like to see contained in the proposed new constitution for this country.

Rather, it is very necessary that we begin to discuss some of the aspirations of the people in terms of what they would like to avoid, given the three wasted decades since the advent of national independence.

The danger we now face is that we are more likely to concentrate on the negative instead of the positive aspects of constitution making. For example, we are more likely to focus on those provisions of the law that seek to limit the power of the executive while neglecting the positive role that the same executive should be mandated to play in governance.

It is obvious that every well-meaning Zimbabwean would like to see that the new law will drastically reduce the powers of the president. Our own history has taught us that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There are living examples in our midst to demonstrate the validity of this adage.

The current constitution gives so much power to the executive that some of our ministers now behave like little gods. The new constitution should curtail the powers of the executive to the extent that government ministers will become humans again who can make mistakes and be subjected to correction by the people. They should be made accountable to the people more than they are accountable to their political parties. Indeed, the influence of political parties on issues of governance should also be restricted.

This is not to be taken to mean that political parties should be made to disappear from the scene. Political parties are essential instruments of political organization. But they should not be allowed to become as powerful as to dictate how a nation should be governed without due regard to the interests of the people as a whole.
The parties must be subservient to the will and interests of the people, and not the other way round. Political parties that view themselves as owning this country lock stock and barrel should be assisted to re-align themselves in accordance with the key tenets of democracy.

The new constitution should prohibit all persons that have been in the position of chief executive of this country for longer than 10 years from standing for elections for any position in government. This will obviously exclude Robert Mugabe from standing for the next election after the gazetting of the new foundation law.

This will help Zanu (PF) in resolving the perennial succession issue currently bedevilling that political party. Of course, Bob will not take kindly to such a provision in the law, but we should not be concerned about that. We have to place the interests of the people of this country above those of an individual. It would be a disaster for this nation if Mugabe were to stand again for election as president of this country. The sad part of this situation is that some of the people in Mugabes personal party, Zanu (PF), are likely to reject this proposal also as a way of protecting their own interests.

Another crucial provision that I think we should consider is that cabinet ministers should be elected by members of parliament (MPs), or that their appointment should be vetted and approved by the legislature. This will ensure that only those individuals who have proven competence records and whose hands are clean can make it into cabinet. The current situation, where persons are appointed on the whims of an individual who happens to be president should be abandoned.

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