Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) under the auspices of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) have denounced the adjustments being made on the Constitutional Amendment Bill number 1 saying the exercise is an attempt by the ruling party to consolidate power.
The Bill, through amendments to Section 180 of the constitution, gives the President Powers to appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission.
In a statement following the passage of the Bill in the Senate, CiZC said the Bill erodes the previous constitutional provision on public interviews for the appointment of judges.
“In essence, the Bill erodes the previous constitutional provision to subject the process of appointments of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President to public scrutiny and interviews. The Bill essentially gives the President the discretion to choose his preferred candidates for appointment.
“This works against judicial independence and goes against the principles of rule of law, separation of powers and transparency in government processes. The Bill is thus an attempt to consolidate authoritarian rule through judicial capture and therefore merely seeks to serve the interests of ruling party politicians at the expense of the will of the majority who voted for the constitution in 2013,” read the statement.
The group said the amendments are tantamount to amputation because the constitution has not been fully implemented.
“Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition stands firmly against constitutional amendments before full implementation of the constitution adopted in 2013. Amending the constitution before implementation amounts to amputation. The constitutional amendments are a real threat to civic and political rights and are part of machinations by the ruling party, Zanu PF to create a one party state in which they have sole authority to determine the governance of the country.
“Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is disturbed over the fact that through constitutional amendments, ruling party officials have exhibited a tendency to retain political power at the expense of the will of the people. We implore the government to abide by the tenets of constitutional democracy and uphold the will of the people. Respect for the constitution is a fundamental pillar of a democratic society,” said the coalition.
The coalition further implored the ruling Zanu PF to desist from abusing its parliamentary majority to amend the constitution against the will of the people who voted for the adoption of the constitution in 2013.