via ZUNDE on Rule of Law March 25, 2014
This is the last of a three-part series from ZUNDE on Governance, Politics and Rule of Law.
On governance, we shared the view that there must be consent and involvement of those governed; in short, a social contract between government and the people. In our second installation, we stated that politics is and must be about improving the lives of our people and creating a decent society. We also reiterated that ZUNDE strongly believes that politics is a vocation, not a profession. As such, leaders will come and go while values stay. For us, politics is about service, not self-aggrandisement. We reiterate that we mean exactly what we say.
Rule of law provides the mortar on which democracy is glued. Foreign investors insist on respect for the rule of law before they come into any country. They need reassurance and protection of the law whenever their rights and people’s rights are infringed or violated through abuse of power by the State and individuals. International capital will not flow if one political party under the pretext of empowering the people can without any checks and balances, pass laws that take away a large chunk of an investment and give it to their own cronies for a song or nothing. No one will put money in a country where the law of the jungle rules, where you know your money can disappear from banks and there is nowhere to seek legal recourse.
Without the rule of law, impunity reigns no matter how serious violations of people’s rights are. With the rule of law in place you can tell anyone confidently, “I will see you in court” with anticipation that justice will be done. You do not want a situation where you say that to someone and you are told you can go hang, at times by those meant to be custodians of the rule of law, how bizarre!
The judiciary in Zimbabwe today is no longer the same as we used to know it. Its reputation in the eyes of the world is tarnished beyond redemption. Zimbabwe will need an independent judiciary to return to the rule of law. It serves no purpose to pretend nothing has happened to our judiciary and the justice delivery system. It used to be considered unthinkable to keep someone in remand prison without trial for over 6 months. Now we have instances of accused persons being incarcerated for years, some even dying in prison without trial. What has happened to our judges to allow this to happen?
The rule of law is not the same as law and order. It is a broader aspect based on the realization that the law is supreme and must be used in a way that makes everybody equal before it. It is that very knowledge that if I do wrong I will face the wrath of the law and be treated in the same way that any other person will be treated, regardless of their social standing. The rule of law will return with institutional judicial reform that guarantees independence of judges and impartiality of the justice delivery system. On the other hand, law and order will return with effective law enforcement and the end of impunity and discriminate prosecution. The latter is a law enforcement problem whereas the rule of law is broader in that it encompasses every aspect of the law including civil liberties, human rights and fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens.
Just this week, Craig Thomson, a former senior Australian Labor Party MP and Health Services Union (HSU) boss was imprisoned for misusing his HSU credit card to the tune of $24,000.00 which he later paid back in full. In Zimbabwe (where such a figure would be regarded by some as peanuts), people freely roam the streets despite stealing millions from parastatals and national coffers. It goes to show that unless there is a paradigm shift in our approach to rule of law, we will forever lag behind other nations in development.
ZUNDE believes that judicial reform in Zimbabwe is a critical success factor for democracy. Such reform must start with establishing an effective and transparent mechanism for the appointment of judges. This task is too important to be left to one person no matter his or her designation. Guarantees in remuneration and conditions of service of judges, including safeguarding their institutional and individual independence in the execution of their duties is another important factor. Judicial independence entails individual independence and independence from other arms of government. Next is to do with the handling of judicial misconduct and removal of judges from office. Lastly we look at issues relating to their pensions and retirement. A judge should not worry at any time about where he/she will get his/her next meal or how he/she will send children to school or get resources to afford decent burial for one’s mother. If that happens it opens room for compromise, including looking up to other people for comfort. That is why the Reserve Bank was able to dish out gifts to judges outside their conditions of service. Judges need adequate remuneration and good conditions of service so that their minds are focused on the job at hand. A judge should never resort to selling water melons from their ill-gotten farm in order to survive. This seriously compromises the rule of law.
On law and order, ZUNDE commits itself to retraining law enforcement agents most notably the police so that they have a clear understanding of what it is to operate in a truly democratic environment. A police officer has to be well vested in the constitution, human rights and general operation of a democratic government. ZUNDE will provide re-education to those willing to serve a democratic Zimbabwe. We have several partners around the world who are willing to assist with this noble task at no or minimal cost to the tax payer.
ZUNDE has a clear agenda to take our nation into the future. We are not for personalities. We stand for values. Most of all we stand for the good of our people and mankind. We stand for freedom.
“Life is an adventure in forgiveness” says Norman Cousins. People are by nature flawed. There will always be times when we do things that are disappointing or hurtful to others. Sometimes these things are done on purpose; sometimes by accident. In either case, the result is the same; someone feels wronged. It’s tempting to hold on to these feelings of being wronged and to harbour grudges. ZUNDE will forgive unconditionally those that have wronged us in the past. Nevertheless, this will be done in a framework of truth, justice and reconciliation. Finally, we invite all those who genuinely care about Zimbabwe to join us. You can now do so online – www.zunde.org .
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