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What Zimbabwe MPs said about the Constitution Amendment Bill-Part Three

In terms of this Constitution, Section 164 (2) (b) enjoins and requires Members of this august House to, I will read it; “The State must, through legislative and other measures, assist and protect the courts to ensure their independence and in partiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness.”  Mr. Chairman Sir, demoting a judge is a direct attack on the whole pillar of judicial independence.  If you demote, it is not allowed in this Constitution.  This House must not be complicit to undermine the authority of the judiciary by demoting a Judge President of the Labour Court to be merely called a senior judge.

If this august House fulfills its duty as is said here, each and every Member of Parliament must assist and protect the courts to ensure their independence.  Demoting the Judge President of the Labour Court to a mere senior judge is indeed, the opposite of assisting and protecting judges in holding their independence. For that reason, I object Mr. Chairman.

HON. ADV. CHAMISA: Thank you Hon. Chair.  My debate is to implore on the Hon. Vice President to restore what is currently obtaining, that is the Judge President as opposed to a senior judge.  I have got two to three reasons why I am advancing this view and notion.  The first one is that, if you look at the change of name, it has a teleological and purposive effect to indicate that you are changing the purpose, the role and the stature.  This is not just a jurisprudential perception or perspective.

It also obtains even in the Bible; you know that when the role is changing from one to the other, for example the case of Jacob, he had to change to being called Israel.  Abram had to be called Abraham, it depicted and denoted a change in the function and purpose.  Now, when the Vice President and the Government choose to change the nomenclature, classification and taxonomy, legally of a judge in the labour court, what are we sending as an impression; which is what we experience everyday Hon. Chair as lawyers in the labour court?  The labour court is then viewed as a lesser court, a ‘zhing-zhong’ court and a court that is dispensing lesser justice.  It does not advance the objective we have seen being induced and infected into the Constitution.

The spirit within the Constitution was to elevate the dispensing of justice at the work place to the level that is obtaining at the High Court.  It is so important to realise that the labour court is a court sui generis; it is in a class of its own.  It must be given sufficient teeth, stature and clout for it to dispense labour justice and workplace justice and equity.  Once you start doing this, you are now casualising labour justice at the workplace.  You are bastardising labour justice and it has an effect of subtracting from that stature.

Hon. Chair, this is why I would kindly make my supplication to the Vice President to retain the Judge President and not just end there because the naming is the beginning.  We must also even in terms of our norming, begin to give the labour court sufficient attention, the attention that is given to all the other equivalent judges and offices within the High Court.  On this one, Hon. Chair, I do not think that it is advancing a positive and progressive image, particularly to the trade unionist and the workers in general.

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