By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)
Who would have thought amendments would come this soon? Barely a year after the constitution was passed there are two possible points of amendment on the table.
I was at a civil society meeting yesterday where the proposals to amend the constitution to facilitate realisation 2/3-gender rule in Article 81 (b) of constitution, and the proposed postponement of the next election were discussed extensively.
On implementation of the not more the 2/3 of either gender rule there were 2 divergent opinions. The first, that there was no way that requirement of Article 81 (b) could be met without a constitutional amendment, and, therefore, requisite amendments should be made to the constitution to ensure that the 2/3 threshold is met.
The second , no amendments to the constitution should be made with regards to realisation of 2/3 gender. The 2/3 gender rule an aspirational and progressive one, to be realised over time through the creation of an enabling environment therefore no amendment is needed. What is needed is a levelling of the playing field for both genders running for elective positions. Furthermore an amendment to the constitution at this early day would open the gateway for amendments made for political expediency.
On the proposal by cabinet to have the date of the election changed from a date in August 2012 to a date in December 2012, a consensus was reached to wait for the Supreme Court opinion on the matter.
Views on the importance of date of the next general election varied from – the date of the election is not as important as people who are elected, to the view that the constitutional provision on the election date should be given the simplest reading, and the intention of the constitution followed by having the next elections in the 2nd week of August 2012. Some argued that the cabinet was being disingenuous in its reasons for its proposal to have the election in December, and all that was needed for an election to be held in August 2012 was political will and not an amendment to the constitution.
One of the panellists, a CIC commissioner, made the very good point that if any amendments to the constitution were to be made, the process of amendment should be consultative, with 100% public participation. Before any constitutional amendments are made there should be a broad consensus on the amendment by the citizens. Finally, any amendments made to the constitution should be made with the intention effect implementation rather than to erode gains.
What are your thoughts on amendments to the constitution, and what conditions would place for amendment if any?