Habakkuk Trust bid to stop Amendment bill hearings, dismissed

Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo has dismissed an application made by Habbakuk Trust, a local non-governmental organisation which sought to stop Parliament from conducting public hearings across the country on the proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 2 Bill.

Habakkuk Trust, through its lawyers, Job Sibanda and Associates, filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court seeking an order directing Parliament to postpone the public hearings until Covid-19 is over, arguing that discussions may not bring the desired outcome as only 50 people or less would be allowed to partake due to the national lockdown regulations.

Justice Moyo noted that the applicant (Habakkuk Trust) failed to present a well-grounded apprehension, providing concrete evidence on how the respondents intended to go about 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.”

The judge noted that no factual basis was made at all for the relief sought.

“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,” said Justice Moyo.

“All of us, members of the Executive, Parliament Judiciary are here 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.”

Justice Moyo stated that all the constitutional meetings being held are lawful in terms of the lockdown regulations.

“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.

In his founding affidavit, Habakkuk Trust chief executive Officer, Mr Dumisani Nkomo, wanted the respondents to be interdicted from holding public hearing until measures have been put in place to contain and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“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,” he said.

Source: Habakkuk Trust