Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs yesterday conducted a live radio public hearing where they gathered people’s views on Constitutional Amendment (Number 1.)The public hearing was meant to afford interested persons who were not able to participate when the committee travelled around the country soliciting people’s views on the Bill.
The Bill seeks to confer powers to the President so that he appoints the Chief Justice, his deputy and High Court judge president, unlike the present situation where he is restricted to a list of three that would have been submitted to him by the Judicial Service Commission.
The Bill seeks to remove the procedure of appointment where currently the JSC conducts public interviews before submitting a list of three from which the President would make the appointment.
Committee stand-in chairperson Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga presided over the phone-in programmes where several listeners called expressing their views on the Bill.
Listeners expressed mixed views during the one hour and 30 minutes programme, with some expressing support over the Government initiatives while others had reservations.
One caller said Government was entitled to make amendments to the Constitution if it is of the view that there was need to do so to improve the supreme law.
“Government, as the representative of the people, should be allowed to amend the Constitution without any impediments. It is within the Government’s right to do so,” said the caller.
Another one said the President had the right to make such senior appointments like the Chief Justice, his deputy and the Judge President given that people invested confidence in him through voting for him overwhelmingly.
Others however, expressed concern on the motivation behind the desire to amend the Constitution barely three years after it came into force.
“Let us concentrate on implementing the Constitution and not amending it. What has necessitated the amendment hardly three years when people voted overwhelmingly for it in a referendum?” said one caller.
Another caller said Government should focus more on aligning several pieces of legislation with the Constitution instead of being preoccupied with amending it.
Ms Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the committee would compile a report based on people’s submissions before tabling it before the plenary of Parliament for debate.