Zimbabwe gives Robert Mugabe power to appoint judges

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s parliament on Tuesday passed a bill amending the constitution to give the president sweeping powers to appoint the country’s top judges without consulting any other institution.

If passed into law, the bill will give Robert Mugabe the sole responsiblity to appoint the chief justice and their deputy.

Under the 2013 constitution, the president could only appoint a chief justice from individuals recommended by the judicial services commission and after public interviews of the candidates.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who heads Zimbabwe’s parliament, hailed the adoption of the bill.

Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party enjoys a majority in the 270-seat legislature.

A total of 182 lawmakers voted in favour of the changes that tinker with the country’s constitution, which was adopted in a 2013 referendum after being put together by the ruling and opposition parties under a power-sharing government.

“This is what democracy is all about, where those who disagree are given the opportunity to air their views,” Mnangagwa said in an address to lawmakers after the law change was announced.

The opposition and civil society had expressed concern that the amendment would compromise and weaken the judiciary.