Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has been told that he is making a mistake by continuing debate on Constitution Amendment Bill No.2 since there is no valid Constitution Amendment Bill No.1.
Constitution Amendment Bill No.1 is said to have been controversially passed by the Senate last week with the help of MDC-T. Legal experts are of the view that it was not supposed to be in Parliament since it was from the previous Parliament.
According to Zimbabwean laws, every Bill or activity that is before Parliament on its dissolution is also deemed to have been dissolved.
Legal watchdog, Veritas Zimbabwe in its Bill Watch series indicated that in its opinion, the Bill should have been started afresh.
Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on Constitution Amendment Bill No.2, Mutare Central legislator Innocent Gonese said Amendment No.1 was invalidated by the court and therefore Amendment No.2 is not properly before the August House.
Thank you Mr Speaker. This is a very critical debate in the history of our country. Before I delve into the merits and demerits of Constitutional Amendment No. 2, I want to start by raising preliminary issues which I think are very important for the record. I wish if the Honourable Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs could actually listen to this aspect which I want to allude to.
”It is my respectful submission Mr Speaker Sir, that this Bill is not properly before this august House for the simple reason that Constitutional Amendment No. 1 was not valid to be passed. I know that the Senate sat last week and they purportedly passed Amendment No. 1.
”With respect Mr Speaker Sir, it is my contention that that Bill had lapsed by virtue of the provisions of Sections 147 of our Constitution. Our Constitution is sacrosanct because once the Constitutional Court gave a ruling that the passage of the Bill in the Senate in 2017 was not in accordance with the provision of our Constitution, it means that there was no valid Act that came into law.
”If you look at the judgement, the Honourable Minister is a learned gentleman, he is aware that the descending judgement of Justice Gowora was very clear. The supporting judgement of Justice Patel – I am just making this as a preliminary point Mr Speaker, it has to go on record. I will go to Amendment Number 2 in a short while.
”Justice Patel gave unsolicited advice to Parliament that whatever was going to happen in the Senate must be in conformity with all provisions of the Constitution including Section 147. That advice was meant to alert the Executive and the legislature on the deficiencies of passing the Bill in the manner in which it was passed last week.
”The point Mr Speaker Sir, which the Honourable Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is aware of, is that the Bill would lapse because once that Act was found not to have been passed in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, it means that it has been reverted to being a Bill.
”What Parliament should have done was to start afresh. So, we cannot start debating Amendment Number 2 when there is no valid Amendment Number 1, that is my point,’’ he said.