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HomeElections 2023WCOZ Demands Respect for Constitution in Election Processes

WCOZ Demands Respect for Constitution in Election Processes

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The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), a non-partisan national network dedicated to promoting women’s rights, has called upon the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) to adhere to the Constitution of Zimbabwe and uphold due process in relation to the administration of the forthcoming 2023 general election.

The coalition has expressed deep concerns regarding the latest Statutory Instrument 114 of 2023 (Statute Law Compilation and Revision (Correction of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 2) Act, 2021) Notice 2023), which it argues is in violation of the Constitution.

According to the WCoZ, the inclusion of the word “persons” instead of “women” in SI 114 of 2023 significantly modifies the provisions of Amendment 2 of 2021, thereby amending the Constitution rather than merely correcting it.

The coalition highlighted that any amendment to the Constitution must follow the established procedure outlined in section 328 of the Constitution. By unprocedurally amending the Constitution through a statutory instrument, ZEC has not only violated the Constitution but has also posed challenges and infringements on the rights of women, the electorate, and the general public.

Furthermore, the WCoZ pointed out that Section 157(5) of the Constitution explicitly states that no changes to electoral or any other laws related to elections can be implemented once an election has been called. Hence, the changes introduced through SI 114 of 2023 have no legal effect on the upcoming election.

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Adding to the concerns about unconstitutional changes to the Constitution, the coalition criticized the press statement released by ZEC on 21 June 2023.

The statement appeared to provide procedural and administrative instructions to Nomination Court officers and political parties regarding the constitution of provincial and metropolitan council party lists.

The WCoZ argues that this administrative action is unconstitutional, as it incorrectly relies on subsidiary regulations to amend the Constitution.

The coalition asserts that this unprocedural last-minute alteration to the Constitution, without subjecting it to public scrutiny and the due process outlined in section 328, undermines democracy and undermines the integrity of public institutions.

“The country cannot have a Constitution in place and still have public institutions acting unconstitutionally,” states the WCoZ.

The coalition emphasizes that Section 268 of the Constitution clearly mandates that political party lists for Provincial and Metropolitan Councils should consist of 10 women.

WCOZ believe that this provision is neither vague nor ambiguous. It is a progressive measure enacted following an inclusive and informed process aimed at addressing the gross underrepresentation of women and promoting gender equality in Zimbabwe. Consequently, the current actions taken by various government agencies are deemed retrogressive with regard to women’s representation.

Expressing their outrage at the ongoing disregard for the Constitution by the government, with the support of ZEC, the WCoZ calls upon all stakeholders to remember that the Constitution of Zimbabwe is the supreme law of the land and should be respected and upheld as such.

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They reminded ZEC that the very essence of a country’s democracy and freedom relies on respect for the Constitution, and therefore, tampering with it should not be done casually.

The coalition further appeals to the Zimbabwe Gender Commission to promptly intervene and ensure that women’s rights are protected throughout the Nomination Court process and every stage of the election, without any gender-based discrimination. Additionally, the WCoZ calls on the Parliament of Zimbabwe to fulfil its duty as provided by section 119(2) of the Constitution by safeguarding and promoting the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

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Multi-award winning journalist/photojournalist with keen interests in politics, youth, child rights, women and development issues. Follow Lovejoy On Twitter @L_JayMut

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