- If enacted, the Bill will give President Emmerson Mnangagwa unfettered power to appoint judges without exposing them to public interviews.
THE Nelson Chamisa-led opposition MDC Alliance has resolved to challenge the passage of Constitution Amendment No 1 Bill in court saying the manner in which it was passed by Parliament was unconstitutional and ultra vires the 2013 Constitution.
The Constitution Amendment No 1 Bill sailed through Senate last week after all senators from Zanu PF and the MDC-T, except Morgen Komichi (Midlands), voted for its passage.
If enacted, the Bill will give President Emmerson Mnangagwa unfettered power to appoint judges without exposing them to public interviews.
Zimbabwe’s Constitution is only eight years old after its adoption in 2013. Before the amendment, it stipulated that the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and judges should undergo public interviews before they are appointed to the bench.
MDC Alliance insiders yesterday said that the opposition party had agreed to challenge the matter in court.
“The resolution was made last week and the party leadership is in the process of putting in motion the legal challenge. Vice-president Tendai Biti is seized with the matter to challenge the amendment as it has been widely condemned by the party as unconstitutional and a reverse of the gains which were achieved by the 2013 Constitution,” said a party insider.
MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo yesterday confirmed the new development, saying Zanu PF was bent on creating a banana republic by putting patches on the people-driven Constitution.
“What the people want is alignment of the Constitution with the Acts of Parliament so as to put it into effect. On the reform agenda in the Zimbabwe agenda launched by president Chamisa weeks ago, the citizens are geared to fight in defence of the people’s Constitution and constitutionalism, meaning that no to amendments, but yes to alignment. So as the leaders of society, we are going to fight for this together with all progressive voices,” he said.
“How can they want to amend yet they don’t want to implement quite a number of sections within the 2013 Constitution which have not been implemented?”
Hlatywayo said Zanu PF was anti-people, hence it was trying to create its own selfish empire through amending the Constitution.
“This is the reason why they illegally recalled MDC Alliance MPs from Parliament,” he said.
Different political analysts, civil society and other opposition parties, except the MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora, have condemned the recent amendment to the Constitution.
Biti said the constitutional changes were illegal.
“The starting point is that the Bill is illegal. The sitting and reading of the Bill happened in the Robert Mugabe era. Section 147 of the Constitution is clear that any motion lapses at the dissolution of Parliament. The Seventh Parliament was dissolved on May 28, 2018 and the motion also lapsed,” he said.
“That’s unconstitutional and illegal, we will go to court about that. Zanu PF can’t unilaterally amend a negotiated Constitution, which was voted for by three million people in a referendum. The challenge should be how to implement the Constitution.”
In July 2017 when the Constitution Amendment Bill No 1 sailed through the National Assembly, the then MDC Alliance MP for Harare West, Jessie Majome, challenged its passage citing “gross irregularities” and that it was passed without the two-thirds majority votes as stipulated by section 328(5) of the Constitution.
Political analyst Fidelis Duri yesterday said the court application by the MDC Alliance would be just an academic exercise meant to embarrass Zanu PF and score a political goal.
“It’s an academic application. Zanu PF has got the majority in Parliament. Parliament is the law-making entity and there is nothing which will reserve its decisions. Due process of legality has been followed. All the legalities are in order, but yes, morally it’s out of order,” he said.
“It’s only political to try and expose the shenanigans of the Executive. It’s only meant to embarrass Zanu PF. They will certainly lose the case. You know to whom the Judiciary belongs, but they would have scored a political goal against Zanu PF.” ■