Harare, Zimbabwe (News of the South) – Parliament on Tuesday passed a bill amending the constitution and vesting the President with sweeping powers to appoint the country’s top judges with very little oversight from, or consultation of other judicial institutions.
The amendment if passed into law will give Mugabe the sole responsiblity to appoint the chief justice and their deputy.
“Under the 2013 constitution, the president could only appoint a chief justice from individuals recommended by the judicial services commission and after public interviews of the candidates,” a media report says.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who heads Zimbabwe’s parliament, hailed the adoption of the Bill which he is suspected of sponsoring as a future strategic move in the ongoing succession battle.
A total of 182 lawmakers voted in favour of the changes whilst 44 from the opposition voted against it.
The amended Constitution is the product of a political compromise in 2013 between the ruling Zanu-PF and opposition parties.
However since winning he majority in the last elections Zanu-PF has been on a campaign to amend it and consolidate its power hold.
Speaking after the vote VP Mnangagwa who is also the Minister of Justice hailed the result as a win for democracy.
“This is what democracy is all about, where those who disagree are given the opportunity to air their views,” Mnangagwa said in an address to lawmakers after the law change was announced.
The opposition and civil society had expressed concern that the amendment would compromise and weaken the judiciary.
The last appointment of the Chief Justice degenerated into a political farce as rival politicians sponsored members of the public to contest the process until the appointment of Justice Luke Malaba as Chief Justice to succeed the retired and now late Godfrey Chidyausiku.
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