CONSTITUTION WATCH 2/2021
[8th May 2021]
Constitution Amendment No. 2 Act Published
The controversial Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 2) Bill has been signed by the President and was published as an Act yesterday. It is now the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 2) Act, 2021 (Act No. 2 of 2021) and can be accessed on the Veritas website [link].
Veritas, the Law Society, other legal organisations, law firms, and individual lawyers have announced they intend to challenge the validity of the Act, one of the grounds being that it was extensively amended during its passage through the National Assembly in violation of section 328 of the Constitution.
What About Constitution Amendment No. 1?
The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill received its final reading in the Senate on the 6th April but has not been published as an Act. Veritas understands that the Government contends it has already been published. To understand this contention it is necessary to explain the Bill’s history.
The Bill was passed by the National Assembly in July 2017 and by the Senate in August that year. The President signed it and it was published as an Act (Act 10 of 2017) on the 7th September 2017. The Act can be accessed on the Veritas website [link]. Two members of Parliament challenged its validity in the Constitutional Court, alleging the Bill had not been passed in either House of Parliament by the two-thirds majorities required by section 328 of the Constitution. Their challenge was heard in early 2018 but Constitutional Court did not deliver its judgment until the 31st March last year. [The judgment can also be accessed on the Veritas website [link]. The Court held that the Bill had not been properly passed by the Senate, but instead of declaring the Act to be void the Court gave the Senate six months within which to hold a further vote on the Bill. After some delays which the Court condoned, the Senate duly passed the Bill by the requisite two-thirds majority on the 4th May this year.
The Government considers that this vote validated the publication of the Act in September 2017. The correctness of that view will no doubt be tested in court in one of several challenges which are due to be filed against the Act, by Veritas among others.