Source: Chief Justice Constitutional Bill re-gazetted | The Herald January 7, 2017
Lloyd Gumbo :Senior Reporter
The Constitutional Amendment Bill (Number 1) has been re-gazetted to correct an administrative anomaly where it was gazetted under the name of the Clerk of Parliament, Mr Kennedy Chokuda instead of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda.The principles of the amendments remain unchanged in the Bill which seeks to empower the President to appoint the Chief Justice, instead of the Judicial Services Commission going through interviews.
Advocate Mudenda published the amendments in the extraordinary Government Gazette on January 3, 2017, with the general notice attached to the Government Gazette yesterday.
In an interview with The Herald yesterday, Adv Mudenda clarified the development, saying it was a matter of Constitutional procedure.
“The first gazette came under the nomenclature of the Clerk of Parliament, but the Constitution says any Constitutional Amendment Bill must come under the nomenclature of the Speaker of the National Assembly when it’s gazetted,” he said.
“We are complying with the Constitution. We did not touch on the content of the Bill because that is for Parliament to debate.”
The amendments seek to change the supreme law by providing that the President appoints the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court.
The gazetting of the Bill followed weeks of debate on the provision in the Constitution, which obligated the President to appoint office bearers to the crucial positions from a list given to him by the Judicial Services Commission.
In compiling the list for appointment, the JSC advertises for the positions, inviting interested people to apply before conducting public interviews. The proposed amendments will substitute Section 180 of the Constitution, which provides for the appointment of judges.
Clause Six of the Bill amends Section 180 of the present Constitution by providing that the President’s choice of Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court be final, should there be differences of choices between his nominee and those recommended by JSC.
“The Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice or Judge of the High Court shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission,” reads Clause 6 (2) of the Bill.
“If the appointment of a Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice or Judge President of the High Court is not consistent with any recommendation made by the JSC in terms of subsection (2), the President shall cause the Senate to be informed as soon as is practicable. Provided that, for the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that the decision of the President as to such appointment shall be final.”
The appointment procedures for all judges will remain as it is in the current Constitution. Presently, appointment of judges is done after the JSC advertises for the positions, invite the President and the public to make nominations and conduct public interviews of prospective candidates.
The JSC would then prepare a list of three qualified persons as nominees before submitting their names to the President, who is obliged to appoint one person of the nominees to the office concerned.
If the President considered that none of the persons on the list submitted to him or her is suitable, he or she would request the JSC to submit another list, whereupon he or she would appoint the new office holder.