VICE-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s arrogant defence of the discredited Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill Number 1 in Parliament last week epitomised Zanu PF’s penchant to major on power retention schemes to the detriment of issues that affect ordinary people.
Comment: The Standard Editor
Mnangagwa has been pushing for the amendment of the Constitution barely five years after it was adopted so that the president is given the sole right to appoint the chief justice and other top judges.
Zimbabweans roundly rejected the Bill during hearings that were conducted by Parliament throughout the country earlier this year, because they could see through the ruling party’s shenanigans.
Zanu PF is battling to manage President Robert Mugabe’s succession and it now wants to make this everyone’s problem by trying to capture the judicial system.
In the ruling party’s scheme of things, the judiciary might become critical in settling the leadership disputes that are likely to arise when Mugabe eventually leaves the scene, hence the attempt to return to the opaque system of selecting the chief justice.
The new system where judges seeking the highest offices in the judiciary served Zimbabweans so well when Chief Justice Luke Malaba was selected to replace the late Godfrey Chidyausiku.
Zimbabwe got a highly regarded chief justice out of the lot that had been nominated and we shudder to think what would have been the outcome of that process if the president had the sole right to pick a candidate.
Zanu PF prefers a suborned judiciary because the party is allergic to the rule of law. Mnangagwa’s desperation to railroad the Bill and his insults directed to those that are genuinely interested in defending the Constitution shows that the stakes are high.
However, this is debate for another day.
Our biggest concern today is that Mnangagwa has failed to give meaning to the progressive Constitution that was adopted in 2013 after it received support from across the political divide.
As Justice minister, the VP has dismally failed to steer the realignment of a number of toxic laws to the Constitution.
Some of these laws have been successfully challenged in the ConCourt but such victories remain hollow as long as the government does not play ball.
People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti raised an important point last week when he noted that “18 months after the child marriage judgement Mnangagwa and (Women’s Affairs minister Nyasha) Chikwinya have failed to bring child protection law (to Parliament.”
Such a law would have given meaning to the ban on child marriages by the ConCourt following litigation by Biti.
A few days after Mnangagwa’s performance in Parliament, women’s organisations revealed that child marriages were on the increase in Zimbabwe due to Zanu PF induced poverty.
Young girls are at the mercy of men that prey on vulnerable children while Zanu PF is consumed in its own factional power games.
Mnangagwa fumed that those who argued that the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill Number 1 was a partisan initiative were “not only mischievous, but are dangerous to our constitutional democracy and themselves.”
But the rant does not sanitise his dereliction of duty. It is time the VP got his priorities right.
Young girls are being condemned to lives of misery and sure early deaths in arranged marriages while Zanu PF invests time and resources on issues that do not matter much to ordinary Zimbabweans.
Biti has also successfully challenged other laws in rulings that expose the Justice ministry’s misplaced priorities.