Parly petitioned over CJ Bill

HARARE - A lawmaker in the National Assembly has petitioned the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda challenging the passage of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill Number 1 (No. 1) on the basis that it may not have passed with required two-thirds majority as alleged.

In a letter referenced: Unconstitutional Passage of Constitutional Amendment Bill in National Assembly Owing to Glaring Irregularities and Miscount of the Vote, MDC Member of Parliament for Harare West, Jessie Majome, claimed there were fatal flaws in the alleged figures that constituted the purported two-thirds that voted for the passage of the Bill.

The Bill, passed by both houses of Parliament last month, amends Section 180 of the Constitution and gives sole and unfettered discretion to President Robert Mugabe to appoint the chief justice, deputy chief justice and judge president of the High Court of his choice whenever there are vacancies for such post.

The National Assembly passed the Bill by a vote of 182 for and 41 against, while 53 Senators voted for the Bill, and 19 voted against.

The changes now await presidential approval.

However, Majome who once chaired the assembly’s Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, is challenging the figures, which allowed the passage of the Bill, claiming they were not sufficient enough to meet the required 180 yes votes.

She said some of the yes votes were ascribed to four MDC MPs and other Zanu PF parliamentarians that were absent on the day.

“The irregularities I noted are in three respects: the total number of yeses are recorded as 182, yet they only tally to 181. Double counting of an honourable MP i.e. (such as) Hon. (Innocent) Pedzisai as having voted yes. This brings the total yeses to 180 instead of the 181 adjusted figure in point one,” Majome said.

She further said that two votes were also ascribed to MPs that were absent on the day, which brought down the number of the yes vote to 178.

“The above gross irregularities mortally impugn the integrity of the passage of a Bill, more so a constitutional Amendment Bill No. 1 did not pass with the affirmative votes of two-thirds of the membership of each House, required by Section 328 (5) of the Constitution,” Majome said.

She added, “I write to your good office to seek your action and attention to this critical issue to ensure that Parliament leads in abiding by the Constitution in its own processes or else it undermines its own authority to ensure the same of others.”

Majome further said the president cannot assent to a Bill that was passed without the required two-thirds majority.

“As such, it would not be legally and constitutional for his excellency to assent to a Bill with a false count of votes for the Bill.

“My respectful view is that the House will need to be recalled. I stand guided by your good office and therefore look forward to your response as to what urgent measures you will take to rescind the fatally flawed process of the purported passage of the Bill,” Majome said.

A new Constitution produced by an inter-party parliamentary committee agreed by Zanu PF and MDC negotiators before a referendum in 2013 curbed presidential powers by requiring the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) — a panel of mostly senior judges and lawyers — to conduct public interviews for the post of chief justice, reflecting Mugabe’s whittled down authority under the new Constitution.

A University of Zimbabwe law student approached the High Court to stop the JSC interviews, arguing the process was flawed, citing an “incestuous relationship” between the candidates and the interviewing panel.

The High Court ruled in favour of the student, who also wanted Mugabe alone to appoint the chief justice.

But the JSC lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court, invalidating the High Court ruling and forging ahead with the interviews, which were beamed live on State television.

The government was, however, adamant, and used Zanu PF’s two-thirds majority to amend the new Constitution to reinstate Mugabe’s sole responsibility.

Comments (1)

Pity me in the 21st century we still have MPs voting to load power in one office/individual....while the rest of the world has moved on to empower instituitions not individuals.

sinyo - 7 September 2017

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