By Kudzai Gumbo
FIVE judges have been appointed to preside over the Constitutional Court on an Acting basis, following the separation of the court from the Supreme Court in Harare this Friday.
The Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court are no longer operating under one roof or presided over by the same judges following the landmark separation of the two courts in accordance with the country’s constitution.
Justices Rita Makarau, Anne Gowora, Paddington Garwe, Ben Hlatshwayo and Barate Patel are the new Acting Judges of the Constitutional Court, and the Chief Justice Luke Malaba was clear when he addressed them on their mandate.
“The mandate of the constitution is to defend our constitution against any threat and to safe guard fundamental human rights. Section 166 of the constitution established the constitutional court and its composition. The 2013 constitution provides for the deferment of the separation of the Supreme Court by 7 years which lapsed this day. The judges used to have dual roles of presiding over the two distinct courts,” said the Chief Justice.
The Constitution Court plays a significant role in the creation of the legal order, declaration and nullification of unconstitutional issues.
“The constitutional court is the only tribunal to nullify conduct of parliament or President, while other courts may only declare but not to nullify. the separation entails that from today the constitutional court will in terms of section 166 (1) consists of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and five other judges of the court,” he explained.
The Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court used to operate under one room, with judges of the Supreme Court being appointed to preside over constitutional matters whenever they arise.
The separation of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court has been welcomed as progressive and a sign of upholding constitutionalism.
The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Honorable Ziyambi Ziyambi says the development is a true reflection of the commitment to improving justice delivery in the country.
“The government has been eagerly waiting for this. The courts have determined disputes in which the government loses some and wins some. This has cast aspersions that courts are biased. There are sectors which look forward to seeing government losing each and every case in court and this is outrageous,” said Minister Ziyambi.
Prosecutor General Kumbirai Hodzi, Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya and the Law Society of Zimbabwe also echoed positive sentiments to the new constitutional developments.
Meanwhile, chief justices from the SADC region have sent their congratulatory messages to Zimbabwe following this achievement.
By Kudzai Gumbo