VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sponsored Constitution Amendment (No 1) Bill yesterday suffered more rejection in Gwanda, with people questioning why he is bringing amendments to the new charter a year before the 2018 general elections.
Source: Mnangagwa Amendment Bill suffers another blow – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 22, 2017
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Different speakers, who contributed during a public hearing on the Bill, told the Fortune Chasi-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice that they smelt a rat at the timing of the proposed amendment, considering that Bill seeks to allow President Robert Mugabe to handpick a successor to outgoing Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku.
The new Chief Justice would be expected to swear in the candidate, who would have won next year’s Presidential election.
A resident, Linda Mpofu questioned why the Executive had rushed to sponsor the amendments when they had all along ignored other pertinent issues like devolution of power that have kept some provinces underprivileged.
“When we look at the Constitution, there are more than 300 laws that need alignment, including implementing devolution of power that the people of Matabeleland demanded and is not yet operational, and now you want us to amend the constitution to exert more powers on the Executive over other arms of government like the judiciary — we say no to that,” she said.
Simbarashe Tasarira and Juliet Nkiwane proposed that the new Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President should be selected by a panel comprising of Members of Parliament, various commissioners, retired judges and lawyers, and not the President.
“We are saying this is assassination of justice and there is no need for amendments to section 180 of the Constitution to do with appointments of judges,” he said.
Collet Moyo added: “The three arms of government, the Executive, judiciary, and the legislature should be independent of each other. It is criminal that the Executive now wants to usurp powers from the judiciary.”
Other Gwanda residents said they suspected that Mugabe already had a candidate in mind, adding the public hearings were just a formality to sanitise the selection process.
“I also feel that President Mugabe is too old now to be burdened with choosing Chidyausiku’s successor. We cannot keep loading him with work to appoint judges, let this be done by Parliament because we cannot have one person with overarching powers over other arms of government,” Hlekiso Moyo said.
There were a few dissenting voices, who described Mugabe as neutral and suitable person to lead the process.