Elections Matters, Matters Elections…Executive Democracy, a cursed arrangement


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Opinion by Charles Madhiwa

THE Zanu PF-led government has signalled its intention to amend the seven-year-old Constitution for the second time.

A number of constitutional provisions are set to be amended, though some of the amendments are sugar-coated to entice the public to support the move, in the main, the real aim it to further entrench the imperial presidency which the spirit of the current Constitution sought to significantly whittle down in order to spread State power to other State organs.

Constitutions the world over are a product of human action and for that, the document in its life span will be amended to bring it in conformity with changing or changed circumstances or dynamics, but reasonably, such amendments ought to be progressive rather than retrogressive.

Zimbabwe like many other African countries and beyond practice Executive democracy also known as Presidential democracy whereby the President has got a separate mandate from that of the parliament.

This arrangement tends to give the executive too much power to even override other arms of government.

Our Constitution, in its current state tries to assert Judicial independence by allowing members of the public to choose senior judges of superior courts through public interviews, a move now set to be reversed by the Zanu PF-led constitutional amendment bill number 2 in order to give the President power to appoint such.

This would entail that the Executive will have influence on the Judiciary. The bill is now at a public consultation stage, the public is encouraged to reject that retrogression.

If there is any needful to amend the Constitution, it should to do away with the imperial executive in order to usher in a parliamentary democracy.

In a parliamentary democracy the President or Prime minister is chosen by the Parliament thus the head of state or government would owe his/her allegiance to the Parliament.

This will make the Parliament a very strong arm of government which will significantly enhance democracy.

Currently our Parliament is very weak and is easily overriden by the Executive and it just exists for nothing beyond symbolism.

It is also not independent due to the whipping system that further weakens it.

Our Parliament is dismally failing in its oversight role and the Executive does as it wishes without fear of being sanctioned by Parliament.

The executive presidency has become a highly-prized political mantle such that elections in Zimbabwe has become a declaration of war.

Zanu PF is even prepared to surrender the parliamentary majority if defeated, but it viciously barricades the presidency to retain state influence.

Since 2013 when the new Constitution became operational, Parliament is now constituted by a mixed member electoral system, whereby it is a mixture of the first past the post and the proportional system of election.

The proportional system is in respect of women quota and Senate. The system is based on the votes polled by members  of the National Assembly through the first past the post, the votes are weighted per party in a province to determine how many seats a party can get. This is a progressive participatory  plural democracy.

If we are to amend the Constitution, it should be in respect of removing the executive democracy and usher in the parliamentary democracy and also enhancing the number of seats that should be acquired through proportional representation.

The executive presidency is the main source of political violence as it is highly prized, it is also responsible for a very weak Parliament.

The envisaged constitutional amendment bill should  be used to usher in a  parliamentary democracy to end political hostilities and strengthen our democracy.

Is this not the time as a nation to rethink and converge for this noble cause?

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