THE Justice ministry this week revealed that it is planning to amend the new constitution to give President Robert Mugabe unfettered powers to appoint the chief justice, deputy chief justice and judge president.
Candid Comment: Faith Zaba
Government has chosen to ignore the voices of more than three million Zimbabweans who voted for a new constitution that curtailed Mugabe’s powers. The people of Zimbabwe voted for a new constitution to put an end to the extensive powers the nonagenarian leader wielded to cherrypick judges, a process that was open to manipulation.
The crass shredding of the constitution before they have even finished aligning the laws makes a mockery of the whole US$50 million exercise of putting together a new constitution.
What the proposal is trying to do is to force the country to go backwards — giving Mugabe power to appoint his cronies while undermining the democratic processes.
The Zanu PF government cannot be allowed to alter the new constitution just to pursue personal agendas. This is what led to the 19 constitutional amendments of the old version before the country adopted the new constitution.
The speed at which the government is ready to trample on the supreme law of the land when it suits them politically is emblematic of dictatorship most foul.
The amendments are being proposed for political expediency and not to advance any democratic process. It is scandalous that the supreme law is now being used to advance factionalism and succession agendas.
The reason why people did not want the old constitution was because they were against Mugabe’s overbearing powers. When they voted for a new constitution, they were categorically stating that they do not want an imperial presidency.
The patching of the new constitution is a clear example of bad governance. National constitutions must not be amended willy-nilly. The American constitution exemplifies this. Of the 33 amendments proposed to the United States constitution, 27 were ratified by the requisite number of states since the constitution was put into operation on March 4, 1789. This is because they respect the will of its people.
What government needs to do is to consolidate the current process of public interviews to replace Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, who is retiring at the end of February.
It was refreshing to watch Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Supreme Court Judges Justice Rita Makarau and Justice Paddington Garwe battle it out.
Zanu PF must not abuse its two-thirds majority. It is clearly in bad taste that Zanu PF wants to amend a constitution which was promulgated just three years ago.
The insatiable appetite to appoint party loyalists on the basis of patronage speaks to a crisis of failed leadership. Banana republic politics must come to end at some point where people are appointed on merit through democratic, open and fair processes.