MDC-T MPs have filed a constitutional application seeking the nullification of Parliament proceedings that led to the passing of the Constitutional Amendment Bill (No.1), which gives the President sole powers, to appoint the Chief Justice, his deputy and the Judge President.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The lawmakers argue when the process was done, the National Assembly and Senate were not fully constituted.
The application was filed at the Constitutional Court yesterday by MDC-T chief whip, Innocent Gonese and Harare West MP Jessie Majome.
“Parliament failed to fulfil the constitutional obligation defined in section 328(5) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which requires a Constitutional Bill to be passed by two-thirds of the membership of each House sitting separately, when it passed Constitutional Amendment Bill (No.1) of 2017 on July 25, 2017 and August 1, 2017 in the National Assembly and Senate respectively,” Gonese and Majome said in the draft order urging the court to rule in their favour.
The duo’s application comes barely a month after the National Assembly passed the Bill on July 25, which then sailed through the Senate on August 1.
In his founding affidavit, Gonese accused Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is cited as the fourth respondent in the application, of rigging an election in Parliament, which resulted in the passing of the Bill.
“The net result is that the fourth respondent, the minister of Justice (Mnangagwa), rigged an election in Parliament. This is why, contrary to the rules, the Speaker (Jacob Mudenda) did not allow the chief whips and the Sergeant-at-Arms, together with the tellers to move around to make the necessary verifications,” Gonese said, adding some MPs were recorded as being present during voting, when in fact they were out of the country.
He further said the common practice, where Parliament tellers would move around with the chief whips acting as election observers, for transparency’s sake, was disregarded in favour of counting of each party’s MPs’ sitting arrangement.
“That act alone could not be done purely on the basis of the ruling party whipping its members, more so when it was self-evident to everyone that there were divisions in the ruling party and a secret vote would allow members to express their feelings openly,” Gonese said.
“The regrettable position adopted by the Speaker was the assumption that those who sat on government benches were automatically voting yes to the motion. Those who sat on traditional opposition benches would oppose the motion.”
The MDC-T chief whip further said even some Zanu PF MPs, who were not in the House, were counted as being present and, as such, the whole process was marred by irregularities.
In the application, Parliament of Zimbabwe, Mudenda, Senate President Edna Madzongwe, Mnangagwa and Mugabe are cited as respondents.