High court dismisses public hearings appeal


BULAWAYO High Court judge Nokuthula Moyo has dismissed with costs an application by a local civic society organisation Habakkuk Trust, which sought to interdict Parliament from conducting public hearings across the country on the proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 2 Bill.
Habakkuk Trust, through its lawyers, had filed an urgent chamber application seeking an order directing Parliament to postpone the public hearings until coronavirus (Covid-19) is contained.
Sibanda argued that discussions may bring out distorted results as a limited number of people were allowed to attend.

 “The basis of the application is that the respondents have invited members of the public to attend such meetings at venues throughout the country beginning on 15 June until 19 June, 2020 when Zimbabwe is currently under lockdown and public gatherings of more than 50 people is prohibited,” said Sibanda.

In her ruling Justice Moyo said she had no power to stop the process.
“The issue of stoppage of a constitutional process and waiting for normalcy to return is a difficult claim to sustain for the applicant for, the mere existence of a pandemic cannot be the sole ground to stop certain processes,” Justice Moyo said.
“Processes can only be stopped upon reasonable grounds that indeed they fly in the face of Covid-19 prevention and safety measures. The applicant’s case should have gone further to show how being in the middle of a pandemic is inconsistent with the holding of public gatherings in practical essence.”
She added: “On the law, clearly I have no power to stop a constitutional process that is mandated by the supreme law of our country. Applicant itself avers that what respondent is doing is in accordance with the Constitution.”
She further ruled that members of the Executive, Parliament and Judiciary have to uphold the constitutional provisions of the supreme law of the country.
“We do not have the power to suspend constitutional process, nor are we allowed, per personal views. It is for these reasons that I have found that applicant has not made a case for the relief sought and application is hereby dismissed with costs,” Justice Moyo ruled.

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