“Zanu (PF) seeks to entrench authoritarianism through constitutional amendments”

Attempts by the government to amend the constitution to give the President sole powers to appoint the Chief Justice through the Constitutional (Number 1) Amendment Bill of 2017 are a plot by the ruling party, Zanu (PF) to entrench authoritarianism, civic society organisations have said.

Chief Justice Malaba

The sentiments from the civic society organisations came out during a public meeting organized by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) in collaboration with Abammeli Lawyers for Human Rights and Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe on Constitutionalism and the proposed Constitution Amendment Bill (Number 1) of 2017.

CiZC Advocacy Committee Chairperson, Marvelous Khumalo said giving the President powers to appoint the Chief Justice would further compromise the country’s judicial system.

He said that CiZC would mobilize Zimbabweans to reject the Constitutional Amendment Bill (Number 1) of 2017.

“As CSOs we are of the view that this move seeks to introduce excessive executive powers to the presidency and defeats the gains secured through the enactment of the Constitution on the principle of separation of powers.

“In the face of impending elections in 2018 the amendment strengthens the establishment of competitive authoritarianism and marks an end to the principle of separation of powers, as the judicial arm is becomes subjected to presidential control reminiscent of the Lancaster House Constitution. The Bill is meant to compromise the independence of the judiciary,” said Khumalo.

He said that instead of focusing on constitutional amendments, the government of Zimbabwe must focus on aligning laws to the new constitution adopted in 2013.

“The Government of Zimbabwe must complete the much-awaited realignment process including but not limited to bringing back the revised National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill (NPRC) without any further delays. We hold that the proposed amendment is unacceptable and a political sham aimed at overriding the popular, transparent and democratic process, which put in place the legal document in 2013,” said Khumalo.

His sentiments were echoed by Zimbabwe Youth Forum Director, Wellington Zindove who said that government had not properly consulted citizens hence cannot go ahead with amending the constitution.

“The consultations by Parliament on the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 1 were inadequate to warrant an amendment to the constitution. The process of coming up with the constitution was flawed and has become a tradition for politicians hence the amendment,” said Zindove.

CiZC has submitted a memo to the Chief Justice, Luke Malaba urging him to reaffirm the independence of the judiciary in accordance with Section 164 of the Zimbabwean constitution.

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