Amendment Bill passed• Zanu-PF flexes majority muscle • President set to appoint judges

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks after Constitutional Amendment Bill (Number One) sailed through the National Assembly yesterday. — (Picture by Justin Mutenda)

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks after Constitutional Amendment Bill (Number One) sailed through the National Assembly yesterday. — (Picture by Justin Mutenda)

Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Constitutional Amendment Bill (Number One) sailed through the National Assembly last night in an incident-filled sitting as MDC-T lawmakers protested bitterly during deliberations.

The Bill is now expected to be transmitted to Senate.

The Bill seeks to confer on the President, powers to appoint the Chief Justice, his deputy and Judge president instead of subjecting them to public interviews as what happens in respect of other judges.

Read more:

Zanu-PF asserted its dominance by overwhelmingly voting in favour of the Bill, despite spirited attempts by MDC-T lawmakers to scuttle the Bill’s passage by raising several points of order.

The Bill got 182 votes against 41 votes which was more than the two thirds threshold required by the Constitution for a Bill to pass.

The Bill required 180 affirmative votes from the 270-member National Assembly. Soon after passage of the Bill, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa commended legislators for constructive debate.

“I am grateful that the opposition made constructive contributions some of which was incisive and well researched. This is what democracy is all about where those who do not agree are given an opportunity to debate but at the end of the day the majority will have their way,” said VP Mnangagwa.

Deliberations on the Bill lasted more than three hours against earlier expectation of a shorter period given that all that remained was the voting.

Haggling between Zanu-PF and MDC-T started when VP Mnangagwa adjourned debate on the Mid-Term Fiscal Review Statement presented last week by Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa to allow the House to deliberate on the Bill.

MDC-T chief whip Mr Innocent Gonest rose on a point of order to argue that legislators should be allowed to debate on the prudence of the adjournment. Mr Gonese said VP Mnangagwa had no powers in terms of rules to “unilaterally” adjourn debate.

VP Mnangagwa counter argued that as leader of Government business he was empowered to determine which business to prioritise.

National Assembly Speaker Advocate Jacob Mudenda ruled that lawmakers were free to debate the Mid-Term Review upon completion of the Constitutional Amendment Bill.

As voting was about to begin, Mr Gonese rose on another point of order to propose that the Bill should be recommitted for reconsideration arguing that there were some inconsistencies between what VP Mnangagwa had said during the second reading stage and what was captured in the Bill.

He said VP Mnangagwa had indicated that the President should submit three names to the Judicial Services Commission of his nominees, a development which he said was at variance with the Bill.

Adv Mudenda shot down the proposal saying Mr Gonese should have raised those objections at the appropriate stage. At one stage, Norton MP Mr Temba Mliswa castigated the MDC-T for time wasting and implored Adv Mudenda to disregard their protests.

Kuwadzana East MP Mr Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) was later to rise to push for a secret vote. Adv Mudenda dismissed it saying as presiding officer he had the discretion to decide on the manner on which voting should be handled.

After the voting had been carried out, Mr Gonese rose to argue that there must be physical counting of legislators. MDC-T vice-president Ms Thokozani Khupe concurred arguing that chief whips from either sides should verify numbers of the other party.

VP Mnangagwa said he had no objection to that. After all the processes were completed the Bill was read for the third time signaling its, prompting ululation from Zanu-PF MPs.

Pin It
  • Chamunorwa

    What a shame.Once again, the Zimbabwean constitution is not worth the paper it is written on. It can be changed to suit the whims of the powerful. No public benefit arises from this amendment. It is retrogressive and displays our immaturity as a democracy. Power should never be concentrated in one individual.

  • Mugabeism

    And Constitutional Amendment Bill (Number Two) will amend the Constitution to declare Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe is President-for-Life and his sole legal successor is Dr Grace Mugabe.

    Some people will tell you “No, it hasn’t yet been decided who will follow President Mugabe.” Do not be fooled, look at the signs from God and from President Mugabe — he said Dr Mugabe “is seasoned,” and she is “accepted by the people,” — and you will see who is our next President.

  • kutototo

    The new constitution is yet to be fully aligned, but we are concentrating on amending it, the bill was widely rejected by the people during public hearing but Zanu PF being Zanu PF will do things the Zanu PF way which explains why we are were we are as a country.

  • Gary WekuZviyambe

    There is a huge difference between fine-tuning and disregarding the will of the people! Fine tuning involves ironing out legal conflicts within a constitution, not actually changing the constitution to suit one man.

    • Gulalikabili

      We all know that piece of legislation was a contested area between ZANU PF and the opposition during the crafting of the constitution which resulted in ZANU PF conceding in that particular area for the sake of progress otherwise MDC T have themselves to blame by not taking part in some elections which they forfeited to the ruling party which is now counting against them. Zvekuda kuhwigwa ngoni nekuchemachema hazvishandi mupolitics. Its a numbers game depending on which side you are in.

  • Gary WekuZviyambe

    This is actually worse than the president having more than two terms. This says that the president has done away with the separation of powers. The legislature now falls under the Executive

    • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

      By no means. There many political systems in the West with similar provisions or various provisions that are not like the US. Separation of powers can exist after appointment constitutionally. The strict separation of powers does not exist in UK.Their constitution is unwritten .The Legislative House of Lords is the highest Court. So what. You are half educated to you idiot! Go back to school!

  • Gulalikabili

    Stupid MDCT. You forfeited votes to ZANU.PF by not participating in elections and now you cry foul. Democracy is about numbers not sympathy and kuchemachema nekutsvaga kuhwigwa ngoni. Rubish!!!!

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    Who said the amendment applies only when Cde Mugabe is President. ? The provisions will bind all future Presidents until amended ,if need be.

  • yowe

    Why should i go and hang for having an opinion and being able to use my mind to think?? Iwewe in your knowledge or lack of it what good is it in having the president appointing the head of the judiciary?? By this ammendment the president can through proxy of the chief justice appoint judges through out all powerful courts in the land.I really hope you can explain how this act is good for the country

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    But there are many nations with similar constitutional provisions. Why do you become so poorly opinionated? Are those countries not getting investors. The enshrined provisions to amend the constitution are not aimed at undermining the people`s will. But are there for practical reasons . Constitutions are living documents which can be amended to suit arising socio-political exigencies. Its not like the Jewish religious documents where we cant amend St Paul`s letter to the Corinthians when society wants to empower women in the Church, to promote gender equality aims arising later in a human society. Yes the illegal sanctions continue to be inimical to our quest to attract FDI. If a company`s CEO is wrongly black listed, that will give the company reputation risk. By blacklisting our country`s Head of state, because of our land issue, the sanctions continue to be negative against our economic interests. Both targeted and non targeted ZEDERA sanctions affect our economy negatively. You can enjoy your right to be ignorant by not understanding such facts. Wakakura uchifunga kuti matenganyika eku Zviyambe ndiyo minda chete for black people. This is why you support sanctions imposed because of our land reform you idiot. Stop it!

    • Gary WekuZviyambe

      The fact remains that a few individuals have decided to change what the majority clearly stated in the constitution. It does not matter what other countries have in their constitutions; what matters is what Zimbabweans said should be in their constitution. Each country must do what suits its citizens. Zimbabweans voted for ZANU-PF in 2013 to be in power. Would you allow the losing party to take over because a few people somewhere thinks that is what right? If you do not see the contradiction in your statements, then clearly you are extremely naïve.

      • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

        The constitutional process has been followed with the requisite majority votes. Our constitution does not say we have to go back to referendum for amendments. Uri kurasika iwe. Ask your learned MDC VP and lawyer, Chamisa.He will tell you that,politics aside, the amendment does not need going back to referendum votes majority.

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    If your MDCT wins the necessary majority in 2018 ,you can still reverse amend. You are lamenting because the political horizon speaks against stooges of the West entering our State House. Sorry maningi poor Taru! ZANU PF will continue “tongi-ing dis kantry“!

  • Cecil Roars

    I will not blame president Mugabe on this bad decision to give a president additional powers. Mugabe is too old and all the bad decisions that are being made should be attributed to the powerful factions. The man who pushed for it sees himself as heir apparent to Mugabe and he is preparing for his future at the helm. It is a shame when a learned lawyer like VP Munangwa sees this as victory for ZANU PF, yet it is his victory when he becomes president. What are we really doing as Zimbabweans with this country?

  • zvakwana

    kuswero debate about CHIEF JUSTICE appointment zvisina maturo kunze kweku debate about CASH crisis, politics dzemuZimbabwe matakanyanya chaivo.And varume vakuru nevakadzi vakuru kupururudzira marara akadaro.PEOPL ARE SLEEPING ON THE PAVEMENTS TRYING TO GET THEIR CASH FROM THE BANK HAPANA ZVINO DISCUSS NEZVAZVO ASI ZVMAJUDGE i get frustrated with what happens muAugust house imomo its like we voted them to be clowns , and remeber the last time the President read a wrong speech and the same varume vakuru and vakadzi vakuru vakapururudzira izvozvo as well.

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    True , but why did we entrench provisions for amendment via parliament only, without going back to the referendum voters if we intended it to be like the Jewish Bible not subject to amending? You insult yourself by debating like an insane person.

  • zimbotry

    Your idea of politics is a Dictatorship where those at the top line their own pockets

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    Ah ,what dictatorship when our constitution provides for that change without another referendum.?Ko muri kurasika papi imi tuma chinja politicians? Tibvireipo.

  • Gary WekuZviyambe

    It is you who exhibits shallow thinking. Our parliament only ratified what we told them we wanted in our constitution. Each point of contention was ironed out by using the original notes gathered during the constitutional outreach. What is happening is clearly designed to suit a small clique within the ruling party.

  • Cde Moyo

    I think you are employed to comment on newspapers coz;Everywhere you are found commenting,And you are always in support of the gvt whether wrong or right.Mmmmmmmm,give us a break.

  • yowe

    I asked you a simple question answer it what good is this ammendment to the country? Does a state function properly when the judiciary is totally absorbed by the Executive…You are simply supporting what is being done because you support Zanu Pf. That there is a sign of poverty in character and thought!!! Funga wega please