By Elijah Tavengwa Svidzi .
IN 2013, a Referendum was held and the majority of Zimbabweans voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new constitution which had been tirelessly worked upon by the Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) since April 2009.
To most Zimbabweans, the down of a new and home grown Constitution was a welcome development. Little did the majority of Zimbabweans know that their joy was not going to last long, and that their supposed new Constitution would be treated just as “another document” by the same government they had voted for. If anything, the political situation in Zimbabwe has failed to improve since 2013 and to date, some opposition political parties continue to boycott elections citing a lack of electoral reforms.
Demonstrations against both the Government of Zimbabwe and the Justice Rita Makarau led Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has fallen on deaf ears. This is despite the fact that obligations imposed by the Zimbabwe Constitution must be binding on every person or organisation, whether natural or juristic, including the State and all its arms. But the supreme law of Zimbabwe continues to be trampled upon by those in positions of authority, the very people who have heightened duties and responsibilities to uphold, obey and defend the Constitution and its resultant laws.
In order for any meaningful development to be witnessed in Zimbabwe, the supremacy of the Constitution must be restored and upheld. All public institutions must ensure a high standard of professional ethics. Efficient, economic and effective use of resources must be promoted. Services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias. People’s needs must be responded to, and the public must be encouraged to participate in policy making. Public officers must be accountable. Transparency must be fostered. The public must be provided with accurate information at all times. All citizens should have equal access to services which they are entitled to. When complaints are made, citizens should receive a sympathetic and positive response.
Whenever the State is adjudged to have wronged citizens, an apology, a full explanation and a speedy and effective remedy should be offered. All this can be achieved by upholding the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The Constitution clearly states that “This Constitution is the supreme law of Zimbabwe and any law, practice, custom or conduct inconsistent with it is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency”. Unfortunately, that is not the case in Zimbabwe today. Most Constitutional provisions are not being implemented. Some laws have not yet been aligned to the Constitution which was adopted some four years back, and that on its own shows unwillingness on the part of government to act.
In 2018, Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold harmonised elections but for the outcome of those elections to be accepted by all political players, the supremacy of the Country’s Constitution must prevail. For Foreign Direct Investment to start flowing in, investors have to feel protected by the Country’s laws and policies, which stand guided by the Constitution. In order for the tourism industry to flourish, tourists must see Zimbabwe as a safe destination. Development partners also wish to see a Zimbabwe that respects the rights of its people.
When Constitutional supremacy is upheld, even Service Chiefs will be obliged to salute a civilian Head of State. The Army will keep to their barracks, ready to defend the country’s territorial integrity and to protect all citizens of Zimbabwe.
The threat of Zimbabwe being ruled by a corpse at some point or having an unconstitutional life President, contrary to the will of the people, has to be taken care of by a solid supreme Constitution. People should feel free to express themselves, free to choose a leader or representative of their choice without fear of being victimised and for that to happen, they must be protected by the Constitution.
As it stands, Zimbabwe has to be rebuilt, social services must be restored, unemployment must be arrested, productivity must be enhanced, and a stable national currency must be put in place; and supremacy of the Constitution is a key ingredient needed in achieving all this.
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