ON the eighth anniversary of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) urges government to respect the will of the people by fully implementing all provisions and refraining from passing amendments that undermine the founding values of Zimbabwe’sconstitutional democracy.
Source: ZLHR statement on 8th anniversary of the constitution – The Zimbabwean
The Constitution came into force 8 years ago on 22 May 2013 but it has
not yet been fully implemented by the authorities. The failure to give
effect to all of the provisions of the Constitution amounts to a
flagrant disregard of the wishes of the public that are embodied in
the Constitution. The Constitution was emphatically endorsed by the
public through a referendum in 2013. As the supreme law of the nation,
the Constitution binds the state and requires it to give effect to all
of its provisions. The state’s failure to ensure that all the
provisions are implemented undermines the Constitution’s authority as
the supreme law and flouts tenets of democracy. In addition, the
state’s non-compliance is an affront to the rule of law.
Moreover, the state has a duty to refrain from undermining Zimbabwe’s
democracy through amendments of the Constitution that disregard the
founding values of the state which include the rule of law, the
separation of powers and transparency. The recently passed
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.2) Act, 2021 (No.2 of 2021)
introduced changes that significantly weakened the independence of the
judiciary, participatory democracy and the separation of powers.
As a law-based organisation, ZLHR is greatly concerned by the removal
of public interviews from the selection process of judges of the
higher courts and the introduction of a clause which allows the
President to extend the tenure of Supreme Court and Constitutional
Court judges beyond the previous retirement age of 70 years. The
removal of public interviews from the selection process of judges
reduces transparency within government and the public’s participation,
in contravention of the precepts of participatory democracy.
Similarly, the removal of the running mates clause restricts
participatory democracy to the extent that it removes the public’s
ability to vote for a Vice-President as a running mate during
elections. These amendments, among others that were introduced by the
amendment, concentrate powers in the Executive and thereby violate the
principle of separation of powers. The separation of powers is a
fundamental principle of our constitutional order and the rule of law
and should thus be respected by the state.
ZLHR also calls upon the state to desist from violating provisions of
the Constitution. The authorities recently purported to extend the
tenure of the former Chief Justice Luke Malaba, in contravention of
section 328(7) of the Constitution which states that an amendment of a
term-limit of any public official cannot benefit any person who
occupied that office before the amendment. The High Court set aside
this purported extension of the tenure of the former Chief Justice.
On this eighth anniversary of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, ZLHR urges
• Respect the will of the people that is enshrined in the Constitution
by fully implementing all of the provisions of the Constitution;
• Refrain from undermining the founding values of the Constitution and
Zimbabwe’s constitutional democracy;
• Desist from violating provisions of the Constitution.