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

 Now Mr. Chair, this amendment that is proposing to cut-off the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President is going to deprive Zimbabweans of an opportunity that they have to democratically participate in the governance of their country and centralise power for no rational reason in the Office of the President. The President already enjoys power to select a Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President. He enjoys a lot of power and to actually increase it and cut out everybody else in my respectful view, is neither helpful nor even necessary because as matters stand now, the Judicial Services Commission will also consider choices by the President that are nominated. If the President is unhappy with the three names that are selected by the Judicial Services Commission after short listing, the President even sends them back. To me, this is actually a cue for the Judicial Services Commission if they have omitted the President’s nomination to put it in there so that the President can appoint from there.

Mr. Chair, there is absolutely no reason to overload and concentrate that on the President. I want to propose that we abandon this idea. Can you imagine if His Excellency the President were to come to the National Assembly and choose the Speaker of Parliament for us. That cannot be countenanced. So, why should it be done for the Judiciary? Why would the Office of the President require appointing those three judges exclusively by itself? What is so wrong with the people of Zimbabwe for them to be deprived of a chance of nomination?

 Allow me also to say something that I have wanted to say. This amendment is not at all being made in the interest of the people of Zimbabwe. It is not in the public interest for power to be centralised in the President and for the public to be deprived of an opportunity to also have a hand in the appointment and selection of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President.

I also want to express my concern Mr. Chairman and say some words towards the Attorney-General of this country. In terms of the Constitution Section 114, our Attorney-General is not only the Chief Legal Advisor to Government but they are the ones that also draft legislation. Section 114 (4) (d) requires that the Attorney-General, in all his or her duties must “promote, protect and uphold the rule of law and to defend the public interest”. Mr. Chair, this is attacking the public interest. The public has an interest in knowing and selecting the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and a Judge President. What the Attorney- General has done is to draft an amendment. My hope would have been that the Attorney-General advises the Government that if it wants to do this, it is not in the public interest because why would the public surrender an opportunity it has; that it be left only in the selection of the other lower judges that are not here. This is not in the public interest.

I do hope, because again in terms of the Constitution, the Attorney- General may also sit and speak in the National Assembly. I have never seen our Attorney-General here and they are even not present here. This is the first amendment to this Constitution that has been proposed but the Attorney-General is not here. I do note that the Deputy Attorney who is in charge of drafting is here but where is the Attorney-General of Zimbabwe – [HON MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – The Attorney-General must come and visit us in Parliament, and listen to this debate because this is an earth shaking and country shattering amendment. If the Attorney-General is too busy with other issues, but today during the debate of this first constitutional amendment, the Attorney-General should be here listening to this process – [HON MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – and I would want the Attorney-General to hear that they are not performing in terms of Section 114 (4) (d). They are not defending the public interest.

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