CCZ 04-2020 - Gonese & Another v Parliament of Zimbabwe & 4 Others - Constitutional Court Judgment of 31 March 2020

CONSTITUTION OF ZIMBABWE AMENDMENT (No. 1) ACT, 2017 NOT PROPERLY PASSED BY PARLIAMENT

This judgment of the Constitutional Court decided that the Bill for Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Act, 2017 (No. 1 of 2017) was not passed by Parliament by the affirmative votes of at least two-thirds of the membership of both Houses.  There had been the necessary two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, the court decided, but there had been only 53 affirmative votes in the Senate - one vote short of a two-thirds majority (54 of the 80 Senators stipulated in the Constitution as constituting the Senate).

 In a judgment written by Chief Justice Luke Malaba, the Court held that the President of the Senate, in certifying that the Bill had been passed by the requisite majority, had misinterpreted section 328(5) as referring to the affirmative votes of two-thirds of the members of the Senate at the time of the vote [79 by reason of a death] rather than two-thirds of the 80 Senators stipulated in the Constitution.  In doing so she had mistakenly relied on section 344(4) of the Constitution, which was not applicable.   

BUT DECISION SUSPENDED FOR SIX MONTHS TO ALLOW SENATE TO VOTE AGAIN

Finally, the Court held that the Senate should be given the opportunity to conduct the vote again "with a full appreciation of what is required for a Constitutional Bill to be passed".  The Court's order declaring the Senate's passage of the Bill invalid is, therefore, suspended for 180 days (i.e., until the end of September 2020) during which the Senate is to conduct another vote in accordance with section 328(5) of the Constitution.  If that vote does not produce at least 54 affirmative votes, the Court's declaration that the Bill was not validly passed will come into effect and the resulting Act will become null and void.

THE FULL JUDGMENT CAN BE DOWNLOADED BELOW.

 

2020

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