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CSOs against constitutional amendments

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CIVIL society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) have vowed to mobilise citizens and Members of Parliament to reject the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill No 1, accusing the ruling Zanu PF party of railroading the legislature to amend the laws to settle its factional fights.

BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU

The government initiated the constitutional amendment to enable President Robert Mugabe to sidestep the public interviews initiated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and directly appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President.

The proposed amendments were brought up soon after the JSC had already conducted interviews to choose a successor for Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, who goes on retirement this month end.

The amendment seeks to give sweeping powers to Mugabe to appoint the three top judicial officers, but in consultation with the JSC.

“We hold the view that the intention to amend the Constitution is aimed at advancing the parochial Zanu PF succession agenda. The amendment is unacceptable. It is a political sham aimed at overriding the popular, transparent and democratic process, which put in place the legal document,” CiZC said.

Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution in 2013 that stipulates all candidates for the bench have to go through a public interview process and names of successful candidates are forwarded to the President for appointment.

The CSOs said the development would further confirm Zimbabwe as a pariah State and scare away would-be investors from the country.

“We advise that the changes to the supreme law have serious social, economic and political consequences. It demonstrates a compromised and weak judiciary without adequate safeguards to uphold the law scaring potential investors, as well as confirming the perception of a government unwilling to reform,” the CSOs said.

CiZC said they would use any available legal options to oppose the amendment.

“We reiterate our position that we are prepared to defend the Constitution of Zimbabwe and its democratic tenets without fear or favour and will mobilise citizens and other non-State actors to reject attempts at reverting Zimbabwe to the days of the Lancaster House Constitution,” it said.

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