Lawyers Drag ED To Court Over ‘Invalid’ Constitutional Amendment Bill

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has approached the Constitutional Court seeking an order to declare Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 1, alternatively, Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.1) Act, 2021), invalid.

The lawyers are arguing the Bill is invalid on the grounds Parliament failed to fulfill a constitutional obligation in that it passed the lapsed Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill (No 1) 2017 in violation of Section 147 of the Constitution.

“It failed to follow the procedure set to in Section 328 of the Constitution in promulgating the Constitutional Bill No. 1 and it acted contrary to its constitutional duty under 119(1) of the Constitution in failing to protect the Constitution and promote democratic governance in Zimbabwe,” read the court papers.

The Parliament of Zimbabwe, President of the Senate Mabel Chinomona, Speaker of The National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, and Attorney-General Prince Machaya, are 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th respondents respectively.

“Contrary to its constitutional duty Section of the Constitution the 1st respondent has failed to ensure the provisions of the Constitution are upheld and to ensure that it acts constitutionally and in the national interest,” the LSZ said.

“The 1st respondent’s failure to ensure that there is proper public participation in its legislative process has breached the political rights, the right of freedom of expression and access to information of the applicant, its members and those of the general public.

“They have been denied the right to participate, individually or collectively in gathering or groups in another manner, in peaceful activities, to influence, challenge or support the Constitutional Bill in breach of the constitution.”

The LSZ added; “They have also been denied the right to participate in a referendum.”
According to the Constitution, the lawyers argued the Speaker of Parliament is required to give a 90-day notice in the Government Gazette of the precise terms of the Bill.

“It stands to reason that by requiring the precise terms of the Bill, the Constitution intends to give the public an opportunity to carefully scrutinise the terms of the proposed amendments.

“During the 90-day period, Parliament must ensure public involvement and consultation in the legislative process.”

On 25 July 2017, the National Assembly passed Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 1 of 2017.