Felex Share Senior Reporter
The Constitutional Amendment Bill (Number 1), which seeks to give the President the sole discretion to appoint a Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of his choice will be considered for adoption by Parliament today.
Clerk of Parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda yesterday said all National Assembly members were expected to convene today to possibly adopt the Bill.
“The Clerk of Parliament would like to inform all members of the National Assembly that the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 1 Bill, HB 1, 2017 will be considered for adoption by the National Assembly tomorrow (today), 25 July, 2017,” he said.
- ‘Govt commits to constitutionalism’
- VP unpacks Constitutional Bill
- Constitutional Bill reaches voting stage
“Cognisance of the importance of the Bill, all members of the National Assembly are expected to be in attendance from 1415hrs.”
The Bill is expected to sail through with little hassle as Zanu-PF commands over two-thirds majority both in the National Assembly and Senate.
It seeks to empower the President to appoint people to the three crucial position.
The Bill follows debate on the provision in the Constitution, which took away the President’s powers to make those appointments.
The Constitution provides that the President appoints the Chief Justice from a list given to him by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
In compiling the list for appointment, the JSC advertises for the positions, inviting interested people to apply before conducting public interviews.
The proposed amendments will substitute Section 180 of the Constitution, which provides for the appointment of judges.
Clause 6 of the Bill amends Section 180 of the present Constitution by providing that the President’s choice of Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court be final, should there be differences of choices between his nominee and those recommended by JSC.
“The Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice or Judge of the High Court shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission,” reads Clause 6 (2) of the Bill.
“If the appointment of a Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice or Judge President of the High Court is not consistent with any recommendation made by the JSC in terms of subsection (2), the President shall cause the Senate to be informed as soon as is practicable. Provided that, for the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that the decision of the President as to such appointment shall be final.”
The appointment procedures for all judges will remain as it is in the current Constitution.
Presently, appointment of judges is done after the JSC advertises for the positions, invite the President and the public to make nominations and conduct public interviews of prospective candidates.
The JSC would then prepare a list of three qualified persons as nominees before submitting their names to the President, who is obliged to appoint one person of the nominees to the office concerned.
If the President considered that none of the persons on the list submitted to him or her is suitable, he or she would request the JSC to submit another list, whereupon he or she would appoint the new office holder.
Clause 5 of the Bill makes another amendment to the Constitution by providing that the Labour Court and Administrative Court be subordinate to the High Court.
“In conformity with Section 188 (4) of the Constitution, the salaries, allowances and other benefits of judges of the Labour Court and Administrative Court holding or acting in office as such on the date of commencement of this Act shall not be reduced,” reads Clause Five (2) of the Bill.
It is the appointment of Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and High Court Judge President that is expected to put to rest debate and stand-off that appeared to exist between JSC and the Executive.
The recent stand-off emanated from how the late Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku was to be replaced on attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70.
The JSC proceeded to hold interviews in terms of the present Constitution despite a High Court order issued by Justice Charles Hungwe interdicting it from conducting the interviews as the Executive had indicated its intention to amend the Constitution.
This was after a University of Zimbabwe law student, Mr Romeo Zibani, challenged the interviewing process, arguing that it was flawed.
President Mugabe went on to appoint Justice Luke Malaba as Chief Justice from a list of three people submitted to him for consideration.
The other two candidates were JSC acting secretary Justice Rita Makarau and Justice Paddington Garwe.