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Robert Mugabe’s omnipresence a major obstacle to realignment of laws

By Clifford Chitupa Mashiri

The obstacle to a sincere and professional alignment of the laws of Zimbabwe is, in my view, Robert Mugabe’s omnipresence as an institution through the so-called Office of the President (OotP) in the Zimbabwe state.

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri

I refer to Bill Watch 46/2015 of 23rd September [General Laws Amendment Bill: “Minor” Amendments (Part IV)].

Veritas has carried out a brilliant analysis of the GLA Bill and rightly found it falls woefully short of its stated aim of ensuring that all Acts of Parliament are aligned with the Constitution.

Given that Veritas found all the amendments to numerous Acts “incomplete” and “unsatisfactory”, what has the Ministry of Justice been doing since the adoption of the new Constitution?

Incomplete amendments have been made to the Administrative Court Act, Courts and Adjudicating Authorities (Publicity Restriction) Act; Magistrates Court Act; and Prisons Act; the Anti-Corruption Commission Act; Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [AIPPA]; Administrative Justice Act and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act; Defence Act; Broadcasting Services Act; Exchange Control Act; University Acts; Labour Act; and Urban Councils Act.

Essential grounds of discrimination are missing the Prevention of Discrimination Act, while the freedom of expression, and the rule of law are violated by the Censorship and Entertainments Control Act.

The principle of separation of powers is violated by the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act which is in breach of section 134 of the Constitution and needs to be repealed.

The freedom of expression guaranteed by section 61 is violated by the Official Secrets Act and it needs to be re-aligned with the Constitution.

Despite trying to fiddle with the Prisons Act and Defence Act, The Police Act was mysteriously omitted from the GLA Bill. The Police will continue to prevent peaceful meetings and public demonstrations as long as the Public Order and Security Act [POSA] is not amended.

The right to privacy guaranteed by section 57 of the Constitution will remain a pipe dream as long as the Interception of Communications Act is not amended.

Freedom of association guaranteed under section 58 of the Constitution remains under threat because of the extensive powers given to the responsible Minister in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisations Act. They need to be reduced.

Nobody can go against the OotP.

At a time when Zimbabwe is making international headlines for corruption including Mugabe’s world flying record (as a passenger), other African countries are making historic advances. For example, Ethiopia opened Sub-Saharan Africa’s first tramway (light railway) on Sunday 20 September 2015. Namibia became the first African country to use Electronic Voting Machines in its presidential election in November 2014.

Despite the economy being comatose with20,000 people losing jobs in one month, Zanu-PF is so determined to maintain an authoritarian grip on the country as a survival strategy.

But for how long?

It’s really sad.

Clifford is a former diplomat and a London-based political analyst. Email: mashiric@lsbu.ac.uk or zimanalysis2009@gmail.com