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Mnangagwa ignores noise over Justice Malaba

by Staff reporter
13 May 2021 at 05:58hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has extended Chief Justice Luke Malaba's term by five years, defying pressure from critics who said the move created a constitutional crisis.

The extension follows a constitutional amendment rushed through Parliament by the ruling Zanu-PF party which gave President Emmerson Mnangagwa authority to unilaterally appoint judges and extend their terms of office. Mnangagwa signed the Constitutional Amendment Bill No 2 into law last Friday.

Malaba turns 70 on Friday and was supposed to retire, according to the provisions of the original Constitution. On Monday, human rights lobby group, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum filed a challenge to the amendments in a bid to block plans to extend Justice Malaba's term of office.

The matter has been set down for tomorrow.

"His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe has considered your election to continue in the office of Chief Justice beyond the age of 70 years for an additional period of five years. He has further considered and accepted the medical report which you submitted as proof of your mental and physical fitness to continue in that office," a letter from Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda read in part.

"I am pleased to advise you that after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission as required by law, His Excellency, the President has in terms of section 186 (1) of the Constitution accepted your election to continue in the office of Chief Justice beyond the age of 70 for an additional period of five years from May 16, 2021."

Constitutional law expert and National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku yesterday described the Constitutional Amendment No 2 as "extremely dangerous" and a plot by Mnangagwa to consolidate power.

Madhuku, who is also a member of the Political Actors Dialogue platform set up by Mnangagwa, said the amendments that removed the running mate clause and gave the President powers to appoint and extend term of office of judges was clear indication of personal consolidation of power.

"We noticed in the amendment that the content is extremely dangerous for the country and a continuation of what is already in the Constitution which is where power is consolidated in the President but even more dangerous with state of Amendment No 2 as it personalises that consolidation," Madhuku said.

"It is very clear that power is now being concentrated not in the hands necessarily of an office, but an individual who is in office and that is a very dangerous approach and you get it even more pronounced in Amendment No 2."

"The debate on running mate clause being removed, debate on the power to appoint judges or to extend term of office of judges, it is all about personal love for power by President ED Mnangagwa and this is what is reflected in the amendments," he added.

Zanu-PF has flatly denied that the amendments were meant to consolidate Mnangagwa's rule and to address its factional wars.

Source - newsday
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