BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
LEGAL think-tank Veritas says the recent appointment of Supreme Court judges using the recently enacted Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 2) Act could be voided if current court challenges on the legality of the constitutional amendments are upheld.
In its latest Bill Watch report, Veritas pointed out that the validity of the appointments of the Supreme Court judges would depend on the validity of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 2) Act, currently being challenged in the courts.
Justices George Chiweshe, Alphas Chitakunye, Samuel Kudya, Felistas Chatukuta, Joseph Musakwa and Hlekani Mwayera were recently sworn in as Supreme Court judges by Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza.
“By appointing the six Supreme Court judges, Mnangagwa must have relied on section 180(4a) of the Constitution, which was amended by the Constitution Amendment (No 2) Act, 2021. The validity of the appointments depends on the validity of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 2) Act,” Veritas said.
“If the Constitutional Court grants this application, the six Supreme Court appointments will fall away as unconstitutional. The JSC [Judicial Service Commission] had not taken any of the preliminary steps necessary under section 180(4) of the Constitution in relation to the six vacancies, including that caused by the removal of Justice (Francis) Bere.
“The significance of this is that the President must have relied on his new power under section 180(4a) of the Constitution as amended by the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 2) Act, 2021, only gazetted into law on May 7, 2021.”
Critics have accused Mnangagwa of deliberately delaying the appointment of Constitutional Court judges in order for him to wait for the enactment of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 2) Act, which gave him power to handpick his preferred candidates.
“Even if the Act itself survives this legal onslaught, section 180(4a) on its own is vulnerable to attack because it did not form part of the original Bill when it was first published in the Gazette, but was added to the Bill unconstitutionally during its passage through Parliament,” Veritas said.
- Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya