Monday, September 20, 2021
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Covid-19: Call for Parliament to shelve public hearings

Upenyu Chaota

In the wake of the
coronavirus pandemic, Parliament of Zimbabwe had suspended public hearings on
the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 2 but recently announced that
the hearings will continue.

This caused serious
concern in the civil society, with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) now
taking parliament to task over the move.

With the country in an
indefinite level 2 national lockdown, movement of people remains restricted and
CiZC said that people will not be able to participate in the public hearings
fully.

In a statement, CiZC said
that the current movement restrictions will stop people from contributing and
expose them to Covid-19.

“The Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition (CiZC) rejects the premature announcement of Public Hearings dates on
proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill No2 and call on the Parliament of
Zimbabwe to suspend the hearings.

“The announcement comes
at a time when the country is in lockdown level 2 due to the COVID 19 pandemic,
a move which will unnecessarily expose citizens to Covid-19 unless necessary
and sufficient measures are put in place.

“This is to ensure that
citizens are not exposed to Covid-19 and that citizens’ voices are heard and
respected during the Public Hearings on the proposed but absolutely unnecessary
Constitutional Amendment No. 2,” reads the statement.

The Public Hearings on
Constitutional Amendment Bill No2 were initially scheduled to take place from
March 29 to April 3 but were suspended together with all parliamentary
activities from March 18 to May 5, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

CiZC said that the
country has no capacity to deal with a full blown Covid 19 crisis hence the
need to shelf all public hearings until the situation normalizes.

“The Parliament of
Zimbabwe must ensure that Covid-19 preventative measures are in place before
any public hearings commence. It is strange that the public hearings are
resuming at a time when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has suspended
all electoral activities citing Covid-19 regulations.

 “Some of the key
Covid-19 measures announced by the government which have a huge effect on
citizens’ contributions to this process include maintaining social distance at
all times, wearing face masks outdoors, limiting unnecessary travel and travel
restrictions locally and between towns and cities, except for those providing
essential services, and a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people,” reads the
statement.

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