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Rights Lawyer Drags Mnangagwa To ConCourt Over Constitutional Amendments

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By Bulawayo Correspondent


A BULAWAYO-based human rights lawyer, Nqobani Sithole has dragged Parliament and President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the Constitutional Court for failing to comply with the Constitution when they pushed through the Amendment Bill.

Last week Tuesday, House of Assembly members, from both Zanu PF and the MDC-T, voted for the controversial Second Amendment Bill.

Some of the provisions in the contested Bill include the removal of a clause on the presidential running mate, extension of the women’s parliamentary quota system, extension of the 70-year retirement cap for judges by another five years and giving impetus to the government’s devolution agenda.

In his court application papers filed under case 6/21, Sithole cited Parliament and Mnangagwa as first and fifth respondents respectively.

He also cited Speaker of the House of Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, President of Senate Mabel Chinomona, and Minister of Justice Ziyambi Ziyambi as second, third and fourth respondents respectively.

“It is my sincere contention that the 1st respondent (Parliament) has failed to fulfil its Constitutional obligation under Section 117 (1) of the Constitution to have the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.1) Bill, (H.B. 1A, 2017) presented in and passed by the Senate in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution,” said Sithole in his court application.

“On the 24th of March 2021, the 1st respondent through Senate passed a motion restoring the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.1) Bill, (H.B.1A 2017) to the order paper when the said Constitutional Bill had lapsed on the 29th of July 2018 by operation of Section 147 of the Constitution upon the dissolution of the Eight Parliament,” argued Sithole in his application.

The lawyer said in amending the Constitution, Parliament failed to fulfill its Constitutional obligations under Section 131 (2) as read with Section 117 (1) of the Constitution.

Sithole said he wants the Constitutional Court to declare the proposed amendments null and void.

“It is declared that the 1st respondent through the Senate failed to exercise its legislative authority under Section 131 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment  (No-20 ) Act  2013 in accordance  with the Constitution by passing a motion to restore the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.1)  Bill, (H.B .1 A, 2017) to the order paper on the 24th of March 2021 when the said Constitutional Bill had lapsed on the 29th of July 2018 by operation of Section 147 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“It is declared that all processes arising from the restoration and passage of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No,1) Bill, (H.B.1A 2017) by the Senate on the 24th of March 2021 and the 6th of April 2021 are of no force or effect,” further stated Sithole in his application.

The lawyer wants any of the five respondents to pay the costs of the suit.

Sithole is being represented by Sawyer Mkushi legal practitioners. The respondents are yet to file their opposing papers.