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Thabani Mpofu tears into Justice Luke Malaba term extension plans

20 Dec 2019 at 07:53hrs | Views
On December 17, 2019, the nation became aware that the Cabinet had considered and approved Constitutional Amendment Bill 2019 which seeks to introduce a gamut of amendments to the Constitution of Zimbabwe adopted in 2013.

The contemplated amendment is a sovereign disgrace which shows that this government feels little disposition to submit to the wholesome restraints of constitutionalism.

Although the planned amendments in their entirety are the relentless work of rascals, I am particularly taken aback by the invalid attempt to increase the retirement ages of the Chief Justice, his deputy as well as judges of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts. The attempt to amend the constitution is in that regard an unprovoked and unjustified vote of no confidence in the entire judiciary. There is evidence that it is meant to benefit only one person, with other senior judges being used as a cover.

Various learned and eminent citizens have already panned this as an attack on judicial independence, democracy and constitutionalism. I add my voice to the loud chorus of boos. This is what all modestly wish to see buried in everlasting oblivion.

The intention to amend is, however, not well thought out and is quite frankly illiterate nonsense. It seems to me that the regime has not considered provisions of section 328(7) of the constitution which provides as follows:

"Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, an amendment to a term-limit provision, the effect of which is to extend the length of time that a person may hold or occupy any public office, does not apply in relation to any person who held or occupied that office, or an equivalent office, at any time before the amendment."

The effect of this provision, being underpinned as it is by a non obstante clause, is that if the amendment sails through, the new law will have no effect on the tenure of office of the Chief Justice, his deputy and the current judges of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts who must all retire once they reach the age of 70.

The effort is therefore a pointless re-arranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic. I bet my last dollar, the miscreants who are behind this amendment are not alive to this legal position. They have accordingly wasted time but have in the process shown us the lengths to which they are prepared to go in undercutting the spirit of the constitution. Mwari ave navo!

Source - Thabani Mpofu
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