As the continuing denouncing of the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 1 proposed by government through the Ministry of Justice on the appointment of Chief Justice gathers momentum, Abammeli Human Rights Lawyers Network (AHRLN) working with the Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe are mobilising signatures for a petition against the proposed Bill.
Speaking during a meeting with residents in Mkoba’s YWCA centre last week, AHRLN Programmes Coordinator Tineyi Mukwewa said the organisation has made it clear that they totally reject the bill and are making demands that should be upheld by government.
“As Zimbabweans we are concerned about the proposed amendment and yet the laws have not been aligned, so why rush to amend before you align?
“We were are alarmed that the amendment seeks to concentrate power on one individual yet we set down in 2013 as Zimbabweans and everyone agreed that power must not be concentrated on an individual, but that power must be spread between the parliament to make the laws, the judiciary to interpret and the executive to implement.
“Why do you want to be the judge and executioner at the same time?
“The constitution is a document which is a product of the people so the amendment should be people driven. The majority of Zimbabweans were not consulted on devising the amendment,” he said.
“We reject the constitutional amendment bill in its entirety and Parliament must protect and uphold the constitution as the expressed will of the majority.
“Parliament must protect and promote judiciary independence by strict observance of the principle of separation of powers,” Mukwewa said.
He said it is too early for the amendment as only three years have passed since the passing of the constitution.
Former Legislator Mrs Lucia Matibenga, addressing the same gathering, said politicians are not to be trusted.
“The appointment of Chief Justice was not one of the contentious issues during the constitution making process and this is more of changing goal posts in the middle of the game.
“They should make sure the implementation of section 7 of the constitution first, simplify and interpret the constitution first so that people understand it before patching.
“We have no problem with the President appointment of Chief Justice but the selection process should for the public.
“Politicians cannot be trusted, please don’t abuse us as Zimbabweans,” she said.
Matibenga also accused the opposition parties of sleeping in parliament as their silence is deafening adding that Zimbabweans should be scared.
Residents attending the meeting generally expressed discontent with the Bill taking a swipe at the endeavor and accusing the government of taking them for granted,