Constitution should not be amended because of one president, MPs told

2016-04-15 18:30
(Jenni Evans, News24)

(Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town – The Constitution should not be amended because of one president, a University of the Witwatersrand professor told Parliament on Friday.

Professor Mtende Mhango was presenting his argument to the Constitutional Review committee in Parliament, regarding former DA MP Dene Smuts's failed private member's bill, which sought to introduce a new appointment mechanism for the national director of public prosecutions. 

The president has the power to appoint the NPA head.

The bill proposed that the president appoint the National Director of Public Prosecutions on the recommendation of the National Assembly.

The DA has previously indicated that they would be reviving the bill.

Mhango told the committee that the bill sought to fix a problem that did not exist.

He said there was not enough justification to change the Constitution to limit the powers Zuma enjoyed with regards to the National Prosecuting Authority.

"The issue... is driven by the perceived problem of one individual and I think that Constitutions should not be amended because of one person. What happens when the current president leaves office?"

Mhango said that changing the Constitutions should be done over something more important to the rest of the public, though he was aware that submissions had been made that implied that the president had too much power.

"This is what was decided in '94, that the president should have the powers that he currently enjoys. And if those powers should be curtailed, there has to be good reasons provided as to why," he said.

Mhango said the appointment of the NDPP should remain a political appointment by the president.

"However, I see no reason not to require the president to consult with the legislature, just like the president is required to do in terms of the appointment of judicial officers," he said.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach told Mhango she had a problem with his view that the Constitution should not be changed in this way.

Once a year, members of the public are invited to submit proposals for constitutional amendments to Parliament.

The committee on Friday were dealing with backlogged submissions from 2013, and would deal with 2015 submissions after the local government elections.

Submissions for 2016 would open in May, committee co-chairperson Vincent Smith said.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  politics

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