MORE than 102 civil society organizations (CSOs) on Thursday stormed parliament and petitioned the House of Assembly speaker, Jacob Mudenda to block government from amending the constitution to give President Mugabe more powers.
The CSOs, who handed over the petition to Mudenda through their representative body, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said government’s intentions undermined constitutionalism.
Their concern came after late last year government, through the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, proposed to amend some sections of the constitution which mandate the authority to conduct public interviews for the positions of the Chief Justice, deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President of the High Court.
If the proposed amendment passes, it means that the appointment of the three offices will now be done by the President after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, soon after handing over the petition to Mudenda, Marvelous Khumalo, who heads the advocacy committee in the coalition of CSOs, said they wanted the Parliament to protect the constitution.
“We are of the view that this move seeks to introduce excessive powers to the presidency and defeats the gains secured and the will of the people through the enactment of the Constitution on the principle of separation of powers,” he said.
“To us the amendment signifies the rebirth of the legacy of the Lancaster House Constitution and runs counter to the constitutional values in new people driven constitution which emphasize transparency and the principle of separation of powers”, said Khumalo.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said they were going to mobilize masses to reject the amendment when the proposed bill goes for public hearings.
“It is our view that the articulated process, in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, of appointing of the Chief Justice allows a democratic process of selecting shortlisted competent candidates from the Judicial Service Commission on merit whereas the proposed amendment give the President the power to select and appoint ,”said Khumalo.