Mugabe assent to CJ Bill challenged

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HARARE – Opposition lawmakers have launched a Constitutional Court (Con-Court) battle seeking to overturn a decision by President Robert Mugabe to sign into law a bill that restores his singular authority to name the Chief Justice (CJ).

With passions inflamed by the passage of the controversial Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill last month, rammed through both houses through Zanu PF’s super-majority, MDC MPs Innocent Gonese and Jessie Majome approached the apex court last week appealing against Mugabe’s assent to the Bill even though there was a pending court challenge seeking to set aside the amendment because Parliament allegedly 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.

The MPs claim the votes were not sufficient enough to meet the required 180 yes votes.

“To the extent that the president has now signed the Bill, it is now necessary to file this application which is directly connected and interlinked with Case Number CCZ 57/2017 (earlier application). Naturally this matter in Case Number CCZ 57/2017 has to be consolidated together at the time of the hearing,” Gonese said in his founding affidavit.

“Once a finding is made that Parliament breached its constitutional obligations as contended in Case Number CCZ 57/2017, it is quite clear that the president has nothing to assent to.

“The proceedings in Parliament on July 25, 2017 in the National Assembly and on August 1, 2017 in the Senate are a nullity.  A nullity is a nullity and one cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand — it will collapse.

“The president could not have signed an Act that was void.  The present application is therefore necessary to declare a nullity in the form of the Bill assented to by the president on September 7, 2017 as published in the Government Gazette Extraordinary of the same day,” reads part of the application.

Parliament of Zimbabwe, the speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, president of the Senate Edna Madzongwe, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mugabe, are cited as respondents in the application.

The law, controversially passed by both houses of Parliament, amends section 180 of the Constitution and gives sole and unfettered discretion to Mugabe to appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court of his choice whenever there are vacancies for such posts.  – NewsDay