Mr. Speaker, pertaining to the appointment procedure under Section 180 of the Constitution, items 5.5 and 5.6 of the Committee’s Report unequivocally support the Amendment Bill and thus noted that: ‘…the responsibility of the judiciary to interpret the laws of the land must vest in individuals who are qualified, professionals, fit and proper and the proposed amendment does not seek to take away these cardinal baseline requirements,…’.
Further, the Committee also authoritatively agreed with the proposed amendment as it does not seek to erode the independence of Judiciary, given that provisions that insulate such independency as provided for in terms of Section 164 and 165 on Independence Judiciary and the principles guiding the Judiciary are not going to be tempered with at all except for the administrative aspects of the appointment procedure under Section 180, only pertaining to the appointment of the three heads of the judiciary that are inclined towards empowering the office of the sitting and outgoing Chief Justice to choose his or her successor at the expense of Judicial authority, that must be exercised by the people through their elected representatives.
The Committee persuasively advanced this notion as follows, “ the system of representative democracy which subsists in Zimbabwe is being negated by the current procedure which leaves the selection of such influential office bearers who define direction and policy of the country to unelected individuals. It is settled that judicial authority drives from the people, hence the need to change the status quo”.
I now turn to submissions by Hon. Gonese and I will lump my responses to his submissions together with those raised by Hon. P. D. Sibanda. Firstly, let me put it on record that this is not a self-serving amendment as these two Hon. Members have been at pains to portray. It is my firm belief and conviction that those who entertain such notions are not only mischievous and self-destructive to say the least, but dangerous, not only to our constitutional democracy but to themselves. It must be clear to them that I, as the Minister to whom the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs portfolio was assigned, have the unfettered mandate to propose amendments accordingly to the people’s wishes, the law and procedures available for the peace, order and good governance of the motherland. It is that duty which I credibly execute in a balanced manner, to the satisfaction of all our Zimbabwean people regardless of their political persuasions.
Hon. Gonese expressed his concern about the timing of bringing this proposed amendment describing it as being too early. This sentiment is shared by Honourables Cross, Majome and Ndebele. The timing of bringing a proposal of an amendment to the Constitution can only be addressed by the Constitution itself. No constitutional provision prescribes or limits the time within which proposals to amend the Constitution must be tabled before this august House. The only direction we get from the Constitution pertains to the procedure that must be followed when amending the Constitution and this is set out in terms of Section 328 on amendment of Constitution. In terms of 328 (6), where a Constitutional Bill seeks to amend any provision of Chapter 4 on Declaration of Rights or Chapter 16 on Agricultural Land, it must be submitted to the referendum within three months after it has been passed by Parliament by the affirmative votes of two-thirds of the membership to each of the Houses of Parliament.
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