Hit them with eggs, urges Madhuku

It is time Zimbabweans protest by way of throwing eggs at politicians and other people proposing bills which violet provisions of the constitution.

Bernard Manyenyeni, the Mayor of Harare: nothing encouraging in the bills.
Bernard Manyenyeni, the Mayor of Harare: nothing encouraging in the bills.

Lovemore Madhuku, the leader of the National Consultative Assembly and a constitutional law expert, said citizens should use protests to express their position as resistance was the only language Zanu (PF) would understand.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Zimbabwean recently, Madhuku said Zimbabweans should stand up for their rights and stop being docile.

“Zanu (PF) would come up with laws that reflect neither the letter nor the spirit of the constitution if citizens choose to be cowards and spectators while the ruling party gets its way. Citizens should take eggs to consultative meetings and throw them at authorities suggesting draft bills which do not comply with people’s expectations as reflected in the constitution,” said Madhuku, commending MDC-T youth for taking action to demand the 2.2 million jobs promised by the Zanu (PF) government at election time last year.

Madhuku said his organisation would support such protests as they were constitutional and well meaning.

Unconstitutional practices by Zanu (PF) inside the party as well as in government were out of control and citizens had to act, he said. The unexpected rise in the party by Grace Mugabe and attempts by some government ministries to come up with Bills crafted without due consultation indicated that the ruling party did not respect constitutionalism, he said.

Draft Bills prepared by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, were drafted by people opposed to Chapter 14 of the constitution who thought ordinary people were not intelligent enough to realise what was going on, he added.

“The Draft Bills do not promote the spirit of devolution, hence the need to protest. All that is needed is for the president to set the date when provincial councils will start functioning, as the constitution is clear about the constitutional institutions,” Madhuku said, describing the draft bills as products of a layman’s work.

“Local government minister Ignatius Chombo’s proposed bills give the impression that provincial councils are set by the government of the day not the constitution.”

The constitutional law expert said no other law was needed other than the constitution for the provincial councils to start functioning. He said people should be careful lest Mugabe tried to come up with puppet provincial authorities.

Madhuku noted that since 1980 the Zanu (PF) administration had put governors in charge of provincial councils and said that was what it wanted to maintain. The bills were a cunning way by which Zanu (PF) took away from the people the gains brought about by Chapter 14 of the constitution, which provides for devolution.

Madhuku called on Zimbabweans to tell Chombo that they did not want to be rushed regarding the law-making process.

“It has taken government over a year since the constitution was adopted to start aligning the laws, so we see no reason why the ministry should expect public input within just two weeks,” he said.

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC-T spokesperson, said if allowed to pass the bills would do injustice to the people as they circumvented the constitution.

People should reject the bills as they were unconstitutional and anti-people, he said. “The bills inhibit service delivery, encourage bad debts, curtails local authorities’ ability to do commercial activities and there must be consequences for a government contemptuous of the people’s will,” said Mwonzora, adding that the draft bills were undemocratic, unjust and in violation of the people’s rights.

Simbarashe Moyo, Combined Harare Residents Association chairperson, said residents would reject the bills. “They are not compliant with the constitution and we will not accept them. There is need for government to give people enough time to study the drafts before making contributions,” said Moyo.

Jacob Mafume, MDC Renewal Team spokesperson, concurred with other stakeholders that the bills were meant to subvert the constitution.

The powers to write off debts invested in the responsible minister would benefit a few friends surrounding him, he said. “People should have a process and ability to reject the bills as they give too much unconstitutional powers to the state president and the minister to influence local authority activities,” said Mafume.

Bernard Manyenyeni, the mayor of Harare, noted that there was nothing encouraging in the bills about the autonomy of local authorities from the minister’s influence.

“Over 95 percent of Chombo’s directives to council are verbal and his interference with local authorities remains worrying,” said Manyenyeni, who also accused Zanu (PF) of wanting to reverse constitutional gains.

The line ministry has given stakeholders up to September 15 to make contributions on the bills.

Stakeholders said the deadline was too close and were prepared to protest against the whole process through available options. Like other stakeholders, the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus is readying itself for a fight against unconstitutionalism and other unjust laws.

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