BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
CONSTITUTIONAL law expert Lovemore Madhuku has expressed scepticism over the success of legal challenges to amendments to the country’s charter, saying that the only way to stop the amendments would be for people to take to the streets in protests.
Madhuku said this on Wednesday during a virtual public discussion facilitated by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network.
Zimbabwe recently effected two controversial amendments to the Constitution.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 1 Act seeks to alter the way the Chief Justice, the deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President of the High Court are appointed.
These key appointments will now be made by the President in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission.
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 2 Act makes provisions for the President to handpick his running mates, while it also extends the retirement age of judges to 75 years, and stipulates that the women’s quota system will end in 2033, among other provisions.
“There are two remedies to challenge the two constitutional amendments. There is the political remedy, which is always the best. Citizens would say no to the amendments and organise a political action to challenge them.
“The matters are going to be heard at the courts. Obviously, there will be difficulties in getting the matters into the courts as they would have to decide the matters on the basis of the overall political framework. We might end up clearly not getting any successful legal action and end up adopting the changes that have taken place,” Madhuku said.
He bemoaned lack of citizen participation in politics, which has resulted in failure to challenge constitutional infringements.
“There is no sufficient political activity in Zimbabwe at the moment, which explains why we are opting to go to the courts. In a normal framework where there is political activity, we would not have been having these discussions in a small corner, with few individuals who have always been vocal on those matters,” he said.
Another law expert Alex Magaisa said although he concurred with Madhuku on the issue that the political remedy was the best way to challenge the amendments, he still believed that legal action was necessary.
“Challenging the matter was necessary to make the Judiciary and the Executive accountable. But the outcome is probably known in advance. Given the events that have been happening in the judicial system, there is no illusion that there will be a miracle to have the amendments overturned.
“We are aware that if the situation in Zimbabwe was in some societies, we could have seen people flocking to the streets — thousands of them, challenging the amendments. That is the weakness of our Zimbabwean society. Politics is about courage in facing and challenging injustices,” Magaisa said.
Constitutional experts said challenging constitutional amendments through the courts of law would be a mammoth task due to lack of independence of the judicial system in the country.
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