Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Parliament of Zimbabwe will oppose a constitutional challenge filed by MDC-T legislators seeking the nullification of proceedings that led to the passing of Constitutional Amendment Bill (No.1), which gives the President powers to appoint the Chief Justice, his deputy and the Judge president. The court challenge was made by MDC-T chief whip, Mr Innocent Gonese and Harare West MP Ms Jessie Majome.
They argued that the process leading to its passage in both the National Assembly and Senate were not properly done in terms of the Constitution.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, on Monday said they would defend the suit once they had been served with the court papers, which forms the basis of the court challenge.
He declined to give the nature of the defence they will put up.
“We have not yet been served with the court papers,” said Adv Mudenda. “I cannot, therefore, comment on something that I have not yet seen. I do not want to speculate.”
Clerk of Parliament, Mr Kennedy Chokuda, said he could not comment substantively before seeing the court papers.
Mr Gonese yesterday said their lawyers were still working on serving the respondents.
A source at Parliament close to the development said the legislative assembly will oppose the application, as they believed that they had enough grounds to demonstrate that the process was above reproach.
“We will defend the process,” said a source at Parliament. “We are quite convinced that our defence is quite formidable. We are just waiting to get the court papers, but judging from what we have read we do not feel that they have a plausible case against us.”
In their application, Mr Gonese and Ms Majome cited Parliament of Zimbabwe, Adv Mudenda, Senate President Cde Edna Madzongwe, Leader of Government business in Parliament and Vice President Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa and President Mugabe as respondents.
The duo argued that Parliament failed to fulfil the constitutional obligation as defined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which requires a Constitutional Bill to be passed by two-thirds of the membership of each House sitting separately.
The Bill sailed through Parliament last month and now awaits Presidential assent.
In his founding affidavit, Mr Gonese accused VP Mnangagwa, of rigging an election in Parliament, which resulted in the passing of the Bill.
He said the common practice, where Parliament tellers would move around with the chief whips acting as election observers, for transparency’s sake, was disregarded in favour of counting of each party’s MPs’ sitting arrangement.
“The regrettable position adopted by the Speaker was the assumption that those who sat on Government benches were automatically voting ‘yes’ to the motion,” he said. “Those who sat on traditional opposition benches would oppose the motion.”
Mr Gonese said even some Zanu-PF MPs, who were not in the House, were counted as present.