The Parliament of Zimbabwe has indicated that it is going to be soon holding public hearings to gather people’s views on the proposed amendments to the Constitution of Zimbabwe to give the President of the country the sole right to appoint the Chief Justice, his or her deputy and Judge President of the High Court.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights urges the people of Zimbabwe to unite across political lines and overwhelmingly reject this amendment proposal on the following reasons:
1. The judiciary is a third tier of government which should be allowed to operate independently and have the power to even hold the Executive accountable on the Constitution and the law. Amending this section of the Constitution will weaken the strength and independence of the judiciary in Zimbabwe and thus affect human rights protection, promotion and fulfillment,
2. There is need for clear separation of powers between the Executive and the Judiciary to ensure a sound democracy and Constitutionalism in the country. Having the President as the sole appointer of the Judiciary leadership weakens the Judiciary’s mandate as they are subconsciously whipped into playing to the whims of the Executive failure to which they will be expelled.
3. The Judiciary is not a political tier of government but a public interest professional tier of democratic safeguard. Therefore the appointment of the Judiciary leadership should by no means be politicized but should be safeguarded from petty political appointments.
4. We have observed the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, High Court, Magistrate Courts ruling objectively for and against the government and this was because they were operating independently. Taking away that independence is practically taking away the rights of the people and the confidence of the citizenry in the judiciary as an impartial adjudicator in case there are conflicts between the government and the people.
5. As a country we should not be in the habit of amending the Constitution just because it has a clause that does not suit our individual personal interests. The Executive needs to be reminded that the Constitution is not there to serve them but to serve the people and thus the executive should amend its interest to align with the Constitution instead of amending the Constitution to align with personal interests.
As a human rights think tank that exists to enhance the promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights in Matabeleland, we thus urge all the people of Matabeleland and civic society in the region and in Zimbabwe to come out in large numbers and overwhelmingly reject this amendment to the Constitution.
The MIHR General Secretary