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Zimbabwe’s constitutional debate: unilateral Executive power enhances dictatorial tendencies

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The draft by COPAC is a meticulous fulfillment of the old times saying, ”that people are not inherently good, people are ready to show their vicious nature when it works to their advantage”. The coming in of a new supreme law is a welcome gesture. A constitution is widely regarded as a legacy of the past, present and future generation. Ancient and contemporary democracies to a significant extent embrace the legacy of the supremacy of civilian rule, accountability, separation of powers, transparency, liberty, and equality. The COPAC draft depicts a sharp departure from the commonly agreed key lynchpins of democracy. It is silent on a number of critical and pertinent issues such as past atrocities and government misdemeanour that seek redress. Zimbabwe is an infant democracy thus it would have been more prudent for the charter to summon for the establishment of vibrant state institutions not prone to manipulation and susceptible to political instability. The discriminatory clauses with a case in point of the death penalty spell a bleak future and a mammoth task to the establishment of consistent judicial precedence. Reading through chapter 5 which purports to create an Executive authority sent shivers to the spine. History has it on record that supreme Executive authority has led to the weakening of state institutions through appointments. It also has a danger of perpetuating the denial syndrome by political leadership thus aggravating political, economic and social distress. Unilateral Executive power enhances dictatorial tendencies. It is tragic that the COPAC draft has given a green light to one man rule thus nullifying the belief in check and balances. The draft is silent on the retirement age of Executive authority. Very little attention has been given to the voting and electoral system which in the modern day Zimbabwe is the source of hope for political transition. This further derails hopes for free, fair and credible elections. How on earth can a state be run and advised by an unaccountable Attorney General? It is a question that continues to boggle thinking minds. To crown it all the statement ”… becomes effective and for ten years thereafter …” clearly indicate lack of seriousness in Zimbabwe’ political and legal development. Though the draft tried to address numerous issues, it leaves very very little to admire in terms of ensuring stable political, democratic development and upliftment of the legacy of civil rule supremacy.Thus the adoption of the COPAC draft has numerous ramifications nationally, regionally, sub-regionally and as far as continentally. What a tragic testimony of political expedience in the guise of law making.

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