ConCourt reserves judgment on ED powers challenge

THE Constitutional Court (ConCourt) on Wednesday reserved judgment in a matter in which legal think-tank Veritas, and Dzivarasekwa MP Edwin Mushoriwa are challenging a law which critics say concentrates power on the Presidency.

Veritas and Mushoriwa were the applicants in the matter and they maintained that the manner in which the Constitutional Amendment No 2 Act was passed violated the country’s Constitution.

Constitutional Amendment No 2 Act was passed into law on May 7 last year and it gave the President unfettered powers to handpick his deputies and judges, among others.

Mushoriwa is jointly applying for the order with Firinne Trust operating as Veritas and Brian Crozier.

Parliament is cited as the first respondent, while President Emmerson Mnangagwa is cited as the second respondent.

The applicants’ lawyer Tendai Biti said passage of the law was unconstitutional as a Constitutional Bill is sui generis (of its own kind), and it was, therefore, unlawful and unconstitutional for Parliament to pass a Constitutional Bill, which in express terms is not the same as the one originally gazetted in terms of section 328(3) of the Constitution.

Biti said the Bill was not gazetted for the stipulated 90 days as required in section 328(3) of the Constitution and was not subjected to public inquiry in breach of section 328(4) of the Constitution.

The applicants submitted that Mnangagwa failed to respect the constitutional obligation set out in section 328(2) of the Constitution.

They also submitted that in concluding the Second Reading Stage of the Bill in Parliament, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi responded to points made during the debate and closed the debate, but gave notice that he would be moving amendments to the Bill during the Committee Stage that was scheduled on April 15, 2021.

“To the extent that those amendments were not subjected to a process of public inquiry and were not gazetted for 90 days, it is our respectful contention that such an omission renders the entirety of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 2), a legal nullity,” Biti submitted.

“I respectfully contend that the entirety of the Bill must be set aside on the basis that the President and Parliament failed to fulfil a constitutional obligation in passing a Bill that was in breach of section 328 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

He said the Committee and Reading Stage of the Bill should be declared void.

Parliament was represented by Tawanda Zhuwarara, while Mnangagwa was represented by Tembinkosi Magwaliba. Newsday.

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