Zanu PF whips MPs to pass CJ Bill

HARARE - Zanu PF National Assembly members were yesterday ordered to pass the controversial Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill when it was brought for the third reading amid fierce resistance from the opposition MDC.

Members of Parliament from Zanu PF overwhelmingly backed the proposed Bill, which seeks to restore sweeping powers to the President to singularly appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President of the High Court.

Zanu PF chief whip, Lovemore Matuke, had imposed a three-line whip – the strongest sanction at his disposal – on his MPs to back the Bill.

Discussions around its adoption took close to four hours, with MDC legislators raising technical issues that spoke to issues of procedure, including the need to vote by secret ballot —which Zanu PF lawmakers apparently sought to avoid.

In the end, however, National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda ruled against a point of order that had been raised by MDC vice president, Nelson Chamisa.

“The honourable member referred to the case of the South African Constitutional Court, which decided on a similar matter that the final arbiter is the Speaker, so in this case I say no secret ballot,” Mudenda ruled, much to the chagrin of the opposition bench which complained bitterly.

Chamisa expressed concern that Zanu PF wanted to win at all costs “forgetting that the reason why we fought the colonialist was the right to vote not the right to win.”

“Let us allow the secrecy of the ballot because there are MPs here who feel intimidated and are being harassed so that they vote in a certain way,” Chamisa said.

The MDC’s cause was not helped by the fact that even independent Norton MP, Temba Mliswa, was backing the ruling party, even accusing legislators from the main opposition party of disrespecting Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who, in his capacity as Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister, presented the Bill, just over 90 days after its gazetting on January 3.

MDC legislators were determined not to go down without a fight and pointed to every other technicality that Zanu PF — keen on fast tracking the Bill — had overlooked, including even counting the number of ruling party MP who were present.

Apparently, realising the opposition’s determination, Mnangagwa agreed that indeed the MPs needed to be physically counted even though it was clear that the result would not change owing to the whipping system used in the country’s legislature.

“My view is that in a democracy everything must be transparent, so I suggest that the MPs from my side will sit down and be counted by the sergeant-at-arms while seated before he counts those on the other side as well,” he suggested.

While the MDC agreed with Mnangagwa, the party’s vice president Thokozani Khupe, who is its leader in Parliament, said “while I agree with the VP, I suggest that the verification should be done to the satisfaction of all.”

“This can be achieved by ensuring that two MPs from each side count members from the other the opposite side and vice versa,” Khupe said.

After the verification process, which MDC legislators seemed to enjoy as it frustrated their Zanu PF counterparts who felt that they were being made to do things that were not necessary given their commanding two-thirds majority, the results showed that 182 ruling party MPs had supported the yes vote.

In adjourning Parliament after the exercise, Mnangagwa thanked all MPs, especially the MDC, whom he hailed as having made “constructive” contributions.

“I am happy that all MPs were given ample time to contribute, with the opposition making very incisive and well researched contributions,” Mnangagwa said.

The Bill will now go to the Senate before it is taken to President Robert Mugabe for assent before it becomes law.

Some Zanu PF legislators such as Higher Education minister, Jonathan Moyo, did not pitch for the vote.

Moyo had gone to see a doctor.

 

    Comments (4)

    Beats me why Zanu claims to be a people's party when all they do is take power away from the very same people. Everything is done to retain power, and that has been Zimbabwe's biggest tragedy.

    Zuze - 26 July 2017

    so that ''student'' succeeded in pushing for rhobhati to have it all on appointment of CJ?!

    SaManyika Chaiye - 27 July 2017

    Before Mnangagwa in the portfolio there was another lawyer type fellow called Edson Zvogbo who gutted the constitution removing checks and balances needed for proper governance and accountability. He created this monster of an executive presidency which is unaccountable. ED Lacoste is doing the same hoping that he can inherit all the powers to create the super dictatorship he needs to stay in power knowing that he can never win an election.

    Galore - 27 July 2017

    Before Mnangagwa in the portfolio there was another lawyer type fellow called Edson Zvogbo who gutted the constitution removing checks and balances needed for proper governance and accountability. He created this monster of an executive presidency which is unaccountable. ED Lacoste is doing the same hoping that he can inherit all the powers to create the super dictatorship he needs to stay in power knowing that he can never win an election.

    Galore - 27 July 2017

    Post a comment

    Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
    Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
    - Editor

    Your email address will not be shared.