Mugabe appointing powers restored

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has signed into law the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill which gives him sole and unfettered discretion 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.

Mugabe signed into law the Bill on Friday — rendering a constitutional challenge filed by two MDC legislators last week — an academic exercise.

MDC MPs Jessie Majome and the party’s chief whip Innocent Gonese, want the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) to set aside the Bill arguing that the process to pass it was flawed.

Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda gave notice in the Government Gazette published on Friday announcing that the Bill had become law.

“The following law, which was assented to by His Excellency the President, is published in terms of section 131 (6) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe — Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.1) Act, 2017,” Sibanda said.

The Act amends section 180 of the Constitution which replaces the former procedure whereby the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) publicly interviews candidates for senior judicial posts and sends the President a list of three candidates from whom he must make the appointment.

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 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.

But after signing the Bill into law, Mugabe will now have to merely consult the JSC about who he proposes to appoint, but will not be bound to give effect to its recommendations, Parliament watchdog, Veritas said.

Last week, Majome wrote to National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda claiming there were fatal flaws in the figures that constituted the purported two-thirds majority that voted for the passage of the Bill.

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.

Majome and Gonese want the Con-Court to set aside the Bill.

They allege that the Bill did not garner enough votes for it to pass through Parliament.

“This is an application in terms of Section 167 (2) (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The contention in this application is that Parliament failed to fulfil a constitutional obligation and duty.

“On July 25, 2017 and August 1, 2017, Parliament respectively through the National Assembly and the Senate, passed Constitutional Amendment Bill No.1 of 2017.

“Section 328 (5) states that a Constitutional Bill must be passed, at its last reading in the National Assembly and the Senate, by the affirmative votes of two-thirds of the membership of each House,” Gonese said in an affidavit.

“More specifically both the National Assembly and the Senate failed to attain the required two-thirds vote required in terms of the law. It follows that, the passage of the Bill must be set aside,” Gonese said.

Comments (2)

You can't fight such bills from being passed in parliament when you know that you don't have the numbers.Most seats that used to belong to MDC were taken uncontested by the zanu pf mafia party,so you have to chill until after 2018 elections to fight some of the diabolical bills thas have been signed into law by the old dictator.

Janana wa Bikaz - 11 September 2017

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