JUSTICE ministry secretary, Virginia Mabhiza, has defended moves to amend the Constitution on the guidelines of appointing the Chief Justice, the deputy and Judge President, saying the proposed amendments were never meant to entrench certain Zanu PF factional interests, as was being alleged in some quarters.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of Justice Malaba’s swearing-in ceremony last week, Mabhiza said there was no hidden hand pushing for the Constitution to be amended.
“I don’t know why you use the word push, it’s just one of the mandates that we have as the ministry of Justice, to reform, revise and develop our laws including the Constitution. So it’s part of our day-to-day activities, no one is pushing really. It’s just that we are carrying out our constitutional duties,” she said.
Mabhiza, who has been at the centre of a storm, which saw alleged attempts to subvert the constitutional provisions on the appointment of the Chief Justice, said her role was merely to try and make sure the appointment was made easy as opposed to trying to push for a preferred candidate.
“Those are very spurious allegations, which are baseless (that the ministry had a preferred candidate). We have never been pushing for any individual. What we simply did was work on an amendment to ease the doing of work, so to speak. If you look at the current system, we are supposed to go by way of public interviews to pick the Chief Justice or his deputy and other senior judicial officers. Let’s say, for instance, now we have to fill in the vacancy of the Deputy Chief Justice, the Constitution provides that we shall go for public interviews and those public interviews will call upon even people, who are outside the system, whereas, we are saying ideally the deputy should be picked from existing judges. Those are some of the things we are trying to correct to ease the doing of business in the judiciary service,” she said.
Mabhiza said President Robert Mugabe had the ultimate voice in the selection and appointment of the Deputy Chief justice.
“That is purely a Presidential prerogative, it’s either he goes with what the Constitution provides or he can wait for the constitutional amendment, which is pending. It’s purely up to the President to take a decision,” she said.