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ConCourt hears Amendment No 2 Act challenge

Constitutional Amendment No 2 Act was passed into law in May last year and gave the President unfettered powers to handpick his deputies and judges.

BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA THE Constitutional Court will today hear an application filed by legal think-tank, Veritas, which seeks to nullify a law which critics say concentrated power in President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Constitutional Amendment No 2 Act was passed into law in May last year and gave the President unfettered powers to handpick his deputies and judges.

The Veritas application was consolidated with similar cases filed by other institutions such as the Law Society of Zimbabwe that is also challenging the amendments.

Dzivarasekwa MP Edwin Mushoriwa is the first applicant in the case, while Veritas is the second applicant.

In the court papers, Veritas was cited as the Firinne Trust and is seeking an order that declares Constitutional Amendment No 2 Act void, or that all the sections introduced after the gazetting of the Bill be set aside in the alternative.

Parliament and President Emmerson Mnangagwa were cited as the first and second respondents, respectively.

Veritas argues that the amendments were not properly passed by Parliament.

“The basis for this contention is that section 328 of the Constitution states that before a Constitution Amendment Bill can be presented in Parliament, the Speaker must give at least 90 days’ notice in the Gazette of ‘the precise terms’ of the Bill, and during those 90 days, Parliament must invite the public to express their views on the Bill in public meetings and through written submissions,” Veritas said.

“This allows the public to see precisely what amendments are proposed and gives them 90 days in which to discuss them and lobby their members of Parliament to vote for, or against the Bill.

“Section 328 would be wholly defeated if the government were permitted to alter a Constitution Amendment Bill out of all recognition after it had been presented to Parliament.”

Veritas added: “Parliament can resolve to remove clauses from the Bill (because that will leave the Constitution unchanged) and it can resolve to make minor corrections to the Bill, but if any substantial changes are to be made then the whole process must start again, a fresh Bill must be published in the Gazette and the public must be given 90 days in which to debate and discuss the new Bill.

“The changes that were made to the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 2) Bill have been outlined above.  They were extensive and substantial, and the Bill as passed by Parliament was materially different from the one that was originally published in the Gazette. Parliament, therefore, did not pass the Bill in accordance with section 328 of the Constitution, so the resultant Act is void.”

  • Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya

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