Itai Muzondo / Memory Rasa
22 Feb 2017 - GWERU - Residents of Gweru and Masvingo have vehemently rejected the proposed first amendment to the Constitution of Zimbabwe saying the bill would give too much power to the President if it sails through.
Speaking at a Fortune Chasi-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee engagement meeting held at Gweru Theatre on Monday, residents said the proposed amendments were undemocratic.
"I am surprised government wants to curtail the orderly interview processes of the JSC (Judicial Service Commission) in the appointment of the Chief Justice. This is an attempt to consolidate the dictatorship," said one Vincent Muhari.
Another participant accused the Ministry of Justice of attempting to undermine constitutional limitations to executive authority.
"The President must not be anywhere near the selection of the Chief Justice. The JSC should hold interviews and the best should be appointed Chief Justice," said another participant.
At the Civic Centre in Masvingo, residents booed committee leader Ziyambi Ziyambi, saying the committee must remove President Robert Mugabe first before they can fiddle with the young constitution.
"Before amending the constitution, you should remove Mugabe and his government because no one is happy with him. Why search for mistakes when no one is complaining? Deal with real issues.
"Go and tell police to arrest robbers terrorizing this country and stop stealing and killing people at roadblocks. You are sleeping in hotels wasting money doing useless consultations. Use the money to fix potholes along Masvingo-Betbridge road instead.
"You know that 2018 is around the corner so you want to rig elections again and use a pliant Chief Justice to rule in your favour. Just go back and tell whoever sent you that Masvingo said stop it now," said one angry participant.
The Masvingo Human Rights Trust (MHRT) has also released a statement condemning the proposed changes.
"MHRT is disheartened by the apparent voracious appetite by the government to amend the law of the land just over three years since it became operational on 22 August 2013 but is at the same time lethargic with regards to the alignment of various laws to the same constitution," MHRT said.
The bill partly says "The Chief Justice…of the High Court shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the JSC…Provided that, for the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that the decision of the President as to such appointment shall be final."