Lloyd Gumbo, Harare Bureau
Parliament has set in motion processes leading to the amendment of the Constitution to give President Mugabe the prerogative of appointing the Chief Justice, his or her deputy and Judge president of the High Court without waiting for a list of candidates submitted by the Judicial Service Commission.
Assistant Clerk of Parliament, Mr Johane Gandiwa yesterday invited comments on the Bill from members of the public while public hearings on the same will be conducted in due course.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda recently gave notice in the Government Gazette of Government’s intention to amend the Constitution.
Mr Gandiwa said the Constitution on Section 328 (4) provides that immediately after the Speaker of the National Assembly has given notice of a Constitutional Bill, Parliament must invite members of the public to express their views on the proposed Bill in public meetings and through written submissions and must convene meetings and provide facilities to enable the public to do so.
“In compliance with this peremptory constitutional provision, and as part of public consultations meant to enhance participatory democracy, Parliament of Zimbabwe is inviting comments on the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 1 Bill, HB1, 2017, for consideration by the relevant Committee(s),” said Mr Gandiwa.
“Comments must be submitted to the following e-mail address: email@example.com or to Parliament of Zimbabwe Corner Third Street and Kwame Nkrumah, PO Box CY 298, Causeway, Harare, on or before Friday, 24 March 2017.”
Public hearings on this constitutional amendment will be conducted on dates to be advised, he said.
The amendment seeks to change the supreme law by providing that the President appoints the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge president of the High Court.
There has been 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 Service 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 6 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 appointment procedures for all judges will remain as they are 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.
Clause 5 of the Bill makes another amendment to the Constitution by providing that the Labour Court and Administrative Court be subordinate to the High Court.
Constitutional Amendment Bills are expected to take three months before they are tabled before Parliament for debate.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill is expected to sail through with little hassle in Parliament as Zanu-PF commands more than two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament.