Too early to amend the constitution – Hon. Ndebele

By Buhle Tshavango

MAGWEGWE legislator Anele Ndebele says criticizing provisions of the new constitution and calling for its amendment just three years into its lifespan is too early.

Zimbabwe dumped the Lancaster House Constitution which had been in use since 1980 and adopted a new one in 2013, but the new constitution is already going through amendments on the provisions that deal with the appointment of judges.

Those that are in favour of amending the constitution are seeking to give the President the prerogative of appointing the Chief Justice, his/her deputy and Judge President of the High Court without waiting for a list of candidates to be submitted by the Judicial Service Commission, unlike what is provided for in the constitution.

According to Zaka Central legislator Paradzai Chakona, the nomination procedure for a Judge according to the new Constitution leaves a lot to be desired and that a person can merely campaign to become a Judge and be appointed by people which he said was very dangerous and undesirable if the country is serious in terms of integrity and quality of its Judges.

However, adding his voice to the debate in the National Assembly, Honourable Ndebele was of the view that finding faults in the constitution was out of place as it was still new and had been endorsed by 94.5 percent of Zimbabweans.

“It is very sad and regrettable that the ruling party is on and all out to amend the constitution so early in its lifespan…. It happens to be an Act of Parliament but it is an Act of Parliament in a class of its own, completely different from other Acts of Parliament.

“In that regard, it is untouchable, it is the supreme law of the land and I am happy that our Constitution in Section 2 states as much”, said Honourable Ndebele.

Writing on her Facebook page, Harare West legislator Jessie Majome said the house must reject the amendment Bill because main aim is to restore absolute power to the President to appoint the topmost judges or the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice & Judge President.

“I implored the house to reject this amendment which would greatly undermine judicial independence, the separation of powers and the rule of law and therefore be unconstitutional. I reminded the house of the nationwide public hearings which the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Committee of which I am member conducted, where the majority of the public rejected this amendment,” she said.

The amendments have also been criticised by members of the public and civic society organisations during public hearings that were conducted around the country.

Some members of the public say they fear that once the amendment business starts, it will not stop as was the case with the previous constitution which was amended 19 times.

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