Biti challenges first constitutional amendment

LAWYER and People’s Democratic Party leader, Tendai Biti (pictured) is preparing a court challenge to stop the gazetting of Constitution Amendment Number 1 Bill, arguing that the proposed law was not passed by a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament as required by the Constitution.



Constitutional Amendment Number 1 seeks to give the President unfettered powers in selecting and appointing three top judges — the Deputy Chief Justice, Chief Justice and Judge President.

The Bill was passed by the Senate last week and is now waiting for Presidential assent before it is gazetted to become law.

Biti yesterday confirmed preparing the court application that could be filed next week.

“I am working on the papers to challenge the amendment. The Bill was passed without the requisite numbers,” he said.

The planned challenge comes barely a week after Veritas issued an opinion saying the Bill was open to challenge until the numbers could be verified, as there seemed to be discrepancies in meeting the two-thirds majority required in both Houses.

“The framing is similar, we are certain they did not have the numbers,” Biti said.

Veritas, in their argument, said for the Bill to be passed by the Senate it needed 54 affirmative votes and not 53 who voted yes.

“The phrase is not used in section 328(5), which requires a Bill amending the Constitution to be passed by two-thirds of the membership of each House sitting separately,” Veritas, a legal think-tank, said.

“Section 344(4) does not apply to constitutional Bills.

“Section 120 of the Constitution says the Senate consists of 80 members.

“Therefore, the Bill had to be passed by 54 Senators.”

The lawyers grouping also questioned the numbers that passed the Bill in the National Assembly.

“Two Zanu PF representatives, who were listed in votes and proceedings as having voted for the Bill, were, it is claimed, out of the country — in Uganda on parliamentary business,” Veritas said.

“It is also claimed that an MDC member was incorrectly listed as voting for the Bill.”

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  1. Very desperate move by Biti

    1. but a noble one

      1. HOORAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. this law is very bad. i believe even those who voted for it know that. it throws out of the window the independence of the judiciary. this law is drafted with the fear of mugabe. it defeats logic how zanu pf are so joined at the hip with mugabe.

  3. But whi did not count the numbers of members of parliament who were present to vote.That is a simple matter.How can these people run a country honestly.It is duty of parliament to uphold the Constitution.Senate comprises of 80 members.Two thirds of 66,666% is 53.33 members.Therefore 53 members are below two thirds.%4 senators should have voted for it.

  4. The constitutional clause; two third majority requirement is errorneus;parliamentarians are too few to b representive enough on such major issues;it must b referred to a nationwide referendum; &the cost involved to b used as a deterrent against skewed, opinionated individual leaders who might want to temper with the main law of the land using parlamentary representation under their command.This procedure, must b designed in order to protect the public fr such individual leaders.Only lessor important statutory laws shld b left to the parliamentarians to manage

  5. Taking into account that this is a national constitution and these parliamentarians are mere representatives of the people, it would be democratic to bring this issue to a referendum for people to decide. Did the parliamentarians consult their constituencies before voting?

  6. Numbers. Everything boils down to numbers. Even if voting is to be done again and again, does the opposition have the numbers to block the amendment? Mr Biti don’t you think you are partly to blame for the lack of enough opposition numbers to block such an amendment?

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