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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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