BULAWAYO residents yesterday expressed fears that the proposed constitutional amendments on procedures for the selection of a Chief Justice (CJ) were tribally-motivated to block Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Luke Malaba from succeeding his outgoing boss, Godfrey Chidyausiku.
Source: ‘Bill ploy to block Malaba ascendancy’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 24, 2017
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The residents said that the Bill was a ploy by the Executive to further marginalise people from the Matabeleland region by ensuring top judges from the region always play second fiddle to their counterparts from other parts of the country.
Contributing during a public hearing on Constitution (Number 1) Amendment Bill at Iminyela Hall, the residents threatened to dump the party, which would cause passage of the Bill in its current state.
Former legislator, Felix Magalela Sibanda, described the ongoing countrywide public consultations on the Bill as a formality, suggesting the Executive was determined to have it passed, despite objections raised by the populace.
“These consultations must not just be a formality. We have lost faith in public hearings, and the most logical thing is that when a headmaster retires, his deputy takes over,” he said.
“Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku is a renowned lawyer and his deputy has been very effective and passed the interviews – so why are we not promoting him to that position? We now have perceptions that these are sinister changes in the Constitution, which are tribally and regionally motivated,” he said.
Happison Ncube, a representative of local pressure group, Tajamuka/Sesijikile, said Zimbabwe was becoming “a country of fools”, where resources were being spent on public hearings on Bills which further entrench the Executive’s excessive powers.
“We want to warn you as young people that we are not going to accept any Zanu PF faction to fool us and our Constitution will not be amended,” Ncube said.
Another Tajamuka/Sesijikile member, Abigail Mukanda, described the Bill as “a delayed match whose results are already known”.
“This is what we call total madness, and this is a Zanu PF brainchild, but here you are as Parliament bringing a sponsored Bill by one Zanu PF faction. On national television all that we see is information about birthday bashes and not about this Bill or the Constitution. We see nothing to celebrate and as youths we are going to take charge of the way forward and stop this nonsense,” she said.
Another resident said it was too risky to entrust President Robert Mugabe with the sole right to appoint the CJ, his deputy and Judge President, saying the Zanu PF leader had a known history of abusing the Constitution.
Another participant, Annex Moyo, criticised Parliament for failing to translate the Bill into indigenous languages.
“Who originated this Bill? The Constitution needs to be tested by time and now there are 415 laws that need to be aligned to the Constitution, and this amendment is unnecessary. We cannot break one of the three arms of government (Judiciary) in order to strenthern the other leg (Executive). We want delegation of powers.”
Useni Sibanda said any changes to the Constitution could open floodgates to constitutional amendments.
“We do not want to see this Bill sailing through when we shunned it. Tell the President to respect us because we are his boss,” another resident said.