After a long political stand-off, government on Friday gazetted the Zimbabwe
Human Rights Commission Act (Chapter 10:30).
by Simbarashe Gweshe
The commission will investigate violations and seek to promote human rights.
The investigation of human rights abuses will be confined to the post-2009
era and will not have jurisdiction over what happened in preceding years.
This provision formed the main bone of contention in Parliament between Zanu
(PF) on one hand and the other political parties that had been insisting the
commission’s jurisdiction should be more roaming.
According to the Act, the commission will be also be responsible for
visiting and inspecting prisons, places of detention, refugee camps and
related facilities in order to ascertain the condition under which inmates
The ZHRC “shall consist of a Chairman who has been qualified for at least
five years to practice as a legal practitioner and who is appointed by the
President after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission” reads the
The Commission is to be made up of nine commissioners, “at least four of
whom shall be women.”
The persons appointed to the ZHRC will be chosen for their knowledge and
experience in the promotion of social justice or the protection of human
rights and freedoms.
Staff Reporter 2012-10-13 13:54:00
HARARE - President and First Secretary of Zanu PF, Robert Mugabe, says the
party’s forthcoming National People’s Conference to be held in Gweru will
help cement the party’s unity as it gears itself for next year’s harmonised
Mugabe said factional fights did cost Zanu PF dearly in the 2008 elections
which led to the formation of the inclusive government.
"The party as a whole is what we are fighting for and no one is above the
party. That should be our driving force," said Mugabe.
Mugabe said this in Harare while addressing the Zanu PF 90th Central
He also told loyalists that Zanu PF was assured of a “blatantly God-given
victory” in elections next year, claiming the MDC-T was in disarray after
being exposed as incompetent and corrupt.
He warned those who are threatening to boycott next year’s elections
alleging that the playfield is uneven, saying the elections will be held
whether they like it or not as they have cheated the electorate enough.
Said Mugabe: "You can't get anything better that this (even playing field).
I don't know if there is any country which can beat this......"
He said an incident in one part of Zimbabwe cannot affect the general
situation in the whole country, adding that what is important is for voters
not to vote under duress and pledged that government will see to it that
the elections are held peacefully.
"On our part, we will ensure that there is no pressure exerted on the
voter," the President said.
Turning to the Second All-Stakeholders Conference, Mugabe said the
conference should not be turned into a forum for political arguments, adding
that it should be progressive.
"The stakeholders conference should be a forum to adjust the draft
constitution and reconcile it with what the people said during the outreach
programme," he said.
He thanked the people of Venezuela for overwhelmingly re-electing President
Hugo Chavez who shares the same ideology with Zanu PF saying the vote was a
fight against imperialism.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF has cleared and re-admitted three of its members who had
been suspended for crossing the party line.
Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity, Rugare Gumbo disclosed that
the three members who have been re-admitted into the party are Jimaya
Muduvuri, Mike Kadzura and Bhuto Gatsi.
Muduvuri bounced back as the National Consultative Assembly Member while
Mike Kadzura and former provincial youth chairman for Bulawayo Bhuto Gatsi
have been re-admitted as ordinary party members.
Muduvuri was suspended as Central Committe member on allegations of working
in cahoots with Dr Simba Makoni’s Mavambo party, while Kadzura was suspended
over allegations of campaigning for his brother Jonathan who is vying for a
parliamentary seat in Manicaland.
All the charges were dropped after the Zanu PF disciplinary committee found
that the allegations were baseless.
He said “gross shortcomings” which included corruption in local authorities
and the failure to provide basic services had weakened the MDC-T which won
the legislative ballot as well as the first round of the Presidential
elections in 2008.
Mugabe insisted that elections would go ahead in March, dismissing claims by
the MDC-T that conditions were not yet in place for a free and fair ballot.
“The MDC-T is saying let us level the ground. I do not know kuti kunodiwa
matractors here to level the ground? You cannot get it better than this,” he
“If there is a fight in one place or the other that does not mar the general
peace; what is important is that people must be able to vote without
“On our side we will ensure that there is no pressure exerted on the
people.Asingade kuenda kuma elections, we do not force anybody.
“Some people think that they are important. That is nonsense. We will
proceed. We are sailing on the road to elections in March. Vasingade, we do
Mugabe said the coalition government which was established following
inconclusive elections in 2008 should have been replaced after 18 months.
“We have cheated on democracy. Democracy does not go that way,” he said.
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai agrees that the unity government is no longer
workable but wants political reforms fully implemented before new elections
can be held.
But Mugabe said he rivals did not want elections because they were enjoying
the luxuries which come with being in government.
Meanwhile, the country's notorious Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has
insisted that publication of Presidential election results can still be
delayed beyond the five days stipulated by law.
Acting ZEC chair, Joyce Kazembe, told state radio that the electoral body
reserves the right to delay announcement of results in the event of
She insisted that the five day period stipulated in amendments to the
electoral legislation was subject to review.
The five day period was agreed by GPA parties as part of reforms to the
country’s electoral laws ahead of fresh polls next year.
The requirement was aimed at preventing the 2008 crisis when announcement of
the first round results of the Presidential ballot was delayed for more than
Attributed to logistical problems, the delay stocked political tensions in
the country amid claims by opposition groups that the results were being
massaged in favour of President Robert Mugabe.
Analysts however said Mugabe was using the delay to strategize on how to
face the biggest crisis of his 28-year rule after losing the Parliamentary
ballot to the MDC.
Final tallies for the legislative vote gave the MDC-T 99 seats, Zanu PF 97
and the breakaway MDC faction 10.
When eventually released, the results showed that MDC-T leader Morgan
Tsvangirai had won 47.9% of the vote and Mugabe won 43.2%, thereby
necessitating a run-off.
Mugabe won the re-run after Tsvangirai pulled out accusing his rival of
launching a brutal crackdown on his supporters.
By Fungai Kwaramba, Staff Writer
Sunday, 14 October 2012 12:48
HARARE - The signing into law of the Electoral Act signals the disbandment
of machinery which political parties and civil society groups claim had
formed the backbone of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF vote-rigging.
But with shock-troopers who reportedly include soldiers, the militia and war
veterans still at Mugabe’s disposal, many fear the electoral law changes are
only one step towards fully dismantling the tightly-knit machinery to enable
Notwithstanding that the new law deals with many contentious issues such as
the role of Registrar General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede, who is now under the
control of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), violence on the ground
remains a threat, stakeholders said.
But many things have also changed for the better, at least on paper.
While the voters’ roll has been a closely guarded document, kept under the
hawkish control of Mudede, the new Act entitles election candidates to an
electronic constituency voters’ roll, while the national voters’ roll will
be available to all in electronic formula at a reasonable price.
“Our objective is to ensure that elections are free and fair,” said Zec
commissioner and prominent law lecturer and researcher Geoff Feltoe.
“All the provisions are aimed at proper administration of the electoral
process to make sure it runs smoothly, is transparent and works on the
ground,” he said.
The Electoral Act, which Mugabe recently assented, brings a new complexion
to the election playground, previously blighted by violence, late release of
election results and electoral thuggery, stakeholders said.
Feltoe said the new law is an attempt to allay fears of electoral fraud.
“We are trying to improve the electoral process and we have in the Act a law
that will ensure that we have free and fair elections. This law will make
sure that the electoral process runs smooth,” said Feltoe.
Section 18 (2) of the Electoral Act provides that the RG is subject to the
direction and control of Zec in registering voters. The Act also snatches
the voters’ roll from Mudede’s armpit.
While it took a record 36 days to announce results of the March 2008
Presidential elections amid accusations by the MDC that Zec, then led by
High Court Judge President George Chiweshe was cooking up numbers, the new
Act tries to plug this.
Reads section 29 (h) of the Act: “. . . a declaration by the chief elections
officer shall be made not later than (i) five days after the polling day or
last polling day, as the case may be, in the presidential election or runoff
presidential election concerned.”
Section 21 (Cap.2:13) of the Act gives the electorate greater access to the
Recently, a freelance journalist was arrested at the instigation of Mudede
as he sought to inspect the voters’ roll.
The issue of ghost voters also seems addressed in the new Act.
While in the past, powers to remove deceased persons from the secretive
voters’ roll rested in Mudede, the Electoral Act introduces a new provision
that would allow the constituency registrar to remove dead and disqualified
voters from the roll on the basis of a sworn statement by a mother, father,
sister, son, daughter or other direct descendent of the dead voter.
Letitia Kazembe, the Zec acting chairperson, said the law brought
significant changes to the electoral environment.
“This Act will certainly have an impact on Zec operations because it changes
the manner in which some of the processes are conducted,” she said.
“There are new provisions to deal with political violence and intimidation
that involves other players like the courts,” said Kazembe.
Under the Electoral Act, candidates found guilty of perpetrating or
promoting violence will be forced to drop out of the race.
“A court which convicts a person of an offence involving
politically-motivated violence or intimidation committed during an election
period, may, in addition to any other penalty it imposes on the convicted
person, prohibit him or her from campaigning or taking any further part in
the election,” reads a section of the Act.
Obert Gutu, an MDC senator and the deputy minister of Justice and Legal
Affairs said the new law will make it difficult for electoral thieves to
“The new Act guarantees that polling will be ward-based as opposed to
polling station-based,” Gutu said.
“This is very important, particularly in rural areas, where Zanu PF's
penchant for forcing villagers to vote for it is well-documented. It will be
very difficult for village heads and other Zanu PF mandarins to literally
force their subjects who to vote for and where,” said Gutu.
The MDC led by Welshman Ncube said the Act would make it difficult to rig
polls but emphasised the need for a new constitution and the repealing of
other repressive laws such the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).
“There are important clauses in the Act such as the demand for equal access
to media and the introduction of polling station-based voting and this will
certainly reduce the possibility of election rigging,” Qhubani Moyo, the
party’s policy director said.
In previous elections, members of the police and army were forced to vote
separately from the rest of the population and were supervised by their
superiors, in a voting process which stakeholders condemned.
Each soldier or police officer was allegedly forced to vote for Mugabe under
the supervision of commanders.
But under the Electoral Act, voting by police and defence forces away from
their constituencies because of duty will happen in advance of the election
at special polling stations established for that purpose under the control
Feltoe, who is also a law professor at the University of Zimbabwe, said
political parties can now monitor voting by members of the uniformed forces
who will vote 16 days prior to the actual voting date.
The 16 days limit will allow Zec to ensure that ballots will be posted to
Innocent Gonese, the MDC chief whip in Parliament, said the new law removed
the spectre of secret voting by soldiers and the police.
“This Act will give more transparency in the collating of ballots and will
also ensure that soldiers and police officers who used to vote secretly are
now monitored by all political parties,” said Gonese.
However, parties say the Electoral Act is only the beginning towards
implementing an election road map that would ensure truly credible
“The Act alone does not guarantee that the election will be free and fair,”
“There is a cocktail of other measures that have to be put in place. Pieces
of legislation such as Posa and Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (Aippa) should not be abused and misused by the police in order
to ban or curtail the activities of political parties other than Zanu PF,”
Without giving references, Feltoe said there was need to realign some laws
with the new Act to ensure transparency. Zanu PF legislator and lawyer Paul
Mangwana said the Act would “certainly” improve the electoral playing field
but rejected assertions that Zanu PF used to rig elections.
“The new act improves the electoral system in so many ways such as the
establishment of polling station-based voting,” he said.
Asked on whether Zanu PF used to rig previous elections, Mangwana said vote
stealing “has always been next to impossible” in Zimbabwe because of the use
of serial numbers.
“I have participated in the electoral process since 2000 and it is not
possible to rig elections,” Mangwana said.
“Every ballot can be traced to a voter because they have serial numbers. No
party is able to rig elections in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mangwana, who is also a co-chairperson of the Constitution Select Committee
(Copac) which is drafting a new constitution, claimed he was unaware that
soldiers used to vote under supervision of commanders in previous polls.
Sunday, 14 October 2012 11:28
HARARE - Goons accompanying visiting and expelled former ANC Youth League
(ANCYL) president Julius Malema attacked a Daily News on Sunday crew when
they sought to interview the controversial and self-proclaimed Zanu PF
admirer at an expensive eatery in Harare yesterday.
The unprovoked attack — now a subject of police investigations under case
number IR 101 288 — follows the arrival in Zimbabwe on Friday of the
beleaguered ally-turned-arch-enemy of President Jacob Zuma.
The visit, coming as Malema faces a myriad setbacks back home in South
Africa (SA), including money laundering and pending corruption charges, has
raised suspicions about its motives, including the extent of his political
collaboration with President Robert Mugabe’s party.
Bhethule Nkiwane, a photographer with the paper, was manhandled by three
heavily-built goons, who threatened to inflict serious harm on him for
taking pictures of the embattled ex-ANCYL leader as he and his entourage of
about 12 people left the popular joint.
As this writer was also caught up in the Malema line of fire, the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) group editor Stanley Gama also witnessed the
Among those accompanying Malema was top lieutenant and right-hand man Floyd
Shivambu and Zanu PF youth league official Tongai Kasukuwere.
In the heat of the five-minute “scuffle”, the menacing bouncers took away
Nkiwane’s photographic memory card after forcing him to delete photos of the
once-swaggering South African politician.
And after the incident, the group drove away in two Range Rover sport
utility vehicles — one black and the other silver — and three other posh
cars, with Malema ensconced in the black Ranger Rover that was being driven
Apart from yesterday’s invaluable collection of pictures, Gama said his
young photographer had also lost other valuable photos from the prior weeks
in the “mad and unprovoked assault”.
Despite his attempts to intervene and negotiate with Malema over a Daily
News on Sunday interview about his visit and alleged financial relationship
with Zanu PF, Gama's efforts fell on deaf ears.
With the Limpopo-born rabble-rouser accused of receiving money from Mugabe’s
party to destabilise Zuma’s government and probably distract him from
effectively mediating in the Zimbabwean crisis, the Daily News on Sunday was
seeking to establish from Malema his exact mission in the country.
In particular, the self-styled demagogue’s critics point to his “hijacking”
of the Marikana massacres as one of those strategies to derail Zuma.
“Malema seemed calm and appeared interested in talking to my colleagues
after exchanging pleasantries and greetings. But after the introductions,
the goons pushed him aside and told our reporter to go to hell. It was
sudden and unexpected,” Gama said.
“I tried to negotiate with Kasukuwere (Tongai) and Malema to ensure that the
interview went ahead, but it was all in vain. The people around Malema were
vicious, they looked like they wanted to kill somebody,” he added.
At the eatery, Malema’s hungry team blew $175 (R1 400) on the staple
adza — known in South Africa as pap — with chicken, oxtail and beef bones.
In SA, the ex-ANC firebrand is known for his lavish taste and swag,
including top-of-the-range cars, R200 000 wrist watches and razing down a R3
million Sandhurst mansion for another R16 million property.
And as his political star continues to wane, Malema has also hit the
headlines for a R16 million money laundering charge. He is out on a R10 000
The eastern-Harare fringe drama aside, the Daily News on Sunday was told
that Malema on Friday attended a lavish party hosted by a top Zanu PF
official in the leafy suburb of Highlands where there was a free flow of
expensive booze and food.
According to sources, many of the who-is-who of Zanu PF, the well-heeled and
beautiful of Harare attended the lavish party, whose purpose and funding is
Malema jetted into Zimbabwe on the pretext of gracing the wedding of Zanu PF
youth secretary for commissariat Mike Gava.
Gava yesterday married deputy-secretary general of the Pan African Youth
Union (PYU) and youth leader Tendai Wenyika in Chisipite.
The PYU is a representative body of youth movements across the African
Wenyika, who is a younger sister to urban grooves diva Plaxedes, shot into
the limelight after a mesmerising speech delivered in Malabo Equatorial
Guinea during the 17th African Union Summit last year, whose theme was“Accelerating
Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development.”
Prior to the latest visit, several of Malema’s associates have been
clandestinely in and out of the country since early this year under what
sources say were business travels. - Tendai Kamhungira
by Staff Reporter
ZESA has reduced its debt with Mozambique’s Hydro Cahora Bassa from US$76
million to just under US$3 million over the last six months with officials
saying this would help improve power supplies across the country.
Zimbabwe needs about 2,200 megawatts of electricity at peak consumption but
ZESA generates just below 1,300 megawatts and plugs the gap with imports
from the regional suppliers.
The utility has been forced to ration power to both domestic and commercial
users after supplies from the region were cut over mounting debts.
However, ZESA spokesman, Fullard Gwasira said reduction the Hydro Cahora
Bassa debt to about US$2.7 million would see the company boosting supplies.
ZESA expects to pay up the debt by year end.
“Load-shedding is going to be significantly reduced as Cahora Bassa have
increased their supply to us as we have almost cleared the debt we owe
them,” he said.
“The challenge we have is that we are splitting our resources between two
equally important areas.
“First we have to pay for the electricity we are importing on a daily basis
while secondly some money also has to be channelled towards clearing the
“It’s a matter of tackling two issues at the same time, but we are confident
that we would have cleared the debt by the end of the year.”
ZESA’s financial troubles have also been worsened by customers failing to
pay their bills. The utility says it is owed about US$500 million.
“With the introduction of pre-paid meters, the era of a consumers using
electricity and then failing to honour their bills will be a thing of the
past,” Gwasira said.
Energy Minister, Elton Mangoma, has also revealed that several new projects
are also planned to help boost the country’s power generation capacity.
Early this year, Mangoma said a French consortium had been granted a licence
to build a 2,000 MW thermal power plant in an investment worth about US$3
The power station will be situated at Binga’s Lusulu coal fields which are
said to have an estimated 1,2 billion tonnes of coal reserves.
And last month, Chinese firm Guangdong Bureau of Coal Geology also announced
plans to invest $3.5 billion to build a 1,200 megawatt thermal power plant.
by Brian Paradza
HARARE High Court judge, Francis Bere, has filed a US$500,000 defamation
claim against Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary
general, Raymond Majongwe.
According to papers before the courts, Justice Bere took umbrage with
Majongwe’s criticism of his ruling in the fight for control of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) between rival factions backing Lovemore
Matombo and George Nkiwane.
Majongwe supports the Matombo faction but the court ruling in December,
which was later upheld by the Supreme Court, barred the faction and its
affiliates from using ZCTU property, “holding themselves to be office
bearers of the ZCTU or hold meetings in the name of ZCTU”.
However, in his affidavit Justice Bere said in June this year, Majongwe made
“injurious and defamatory utterances which he published, or caused to
published” by the Daily News.
The publication quoted Majongwe saying: “We smell a rat as far as we are
concerned. There is a clear political reason … why would anybody sitting in
a court make a decision on merits of a case that does not concern him?
“Justice Bere misdirected himself and that judgement is stinking with
But justice Bere said Majongwe’s remarks were “not only injurious to and
defamatory but also they were scurrilous, insolent, intemperate, false and
irrational given that, inter alia, the plaintiff's judgement had been upheld
by a superior court.
“(Majongwe) ignored the plaintiff's written demand for an explanation on
August 2, 2012.”
Justice Bere said Majongwe should also pay interest on the US$500,000
compensation claim at the prescribed rate from the date of judgement to the
date of payment as well as pay the costs of the court action.
The judge’s lawyers Scanlen and Holderness gave the trade unionist ten days
Bulawayo, October 14, 2012--The leader of the smaller faction of the MDC
Welshman Ncube blasted civic society organisations in Zimbabwe saying there
are now aligned to political parties and western embassies in order to get
“In the diplomatic community, if you go to every embassy in Harare today you
will hear this civic society organisation is aligned to this or that one.
You know that as civic society organisations you won’t get money from
Americans if you don’t believe in something. Some will tell you that go and
denounce Ncube and you will get a bucket of money that is reality
"Civic society has reconstituted itself as being part of this or that side,
in the same way the media has constituted it’s self as being part of this or
that side. In my view the political polarisation at political party level
then reproduced its self everywhere in civic society,” Ncube a meeting of
Bulawayo civic society organisations on the draft constitution.
Ncube also said the draft constitution produced by COPAC is not people
driven since political parties were instructing their members on what to say
during the outreach programme.
“Some of the biggest lies which have been telling each other are around this
constitution. We have been saying its people driven constitution but that is
not true. Lets always understand when invoke the name of the people, its
organisational mobilisation tool to legitimatise political demands in the
name of the people.
“People never wrote the constitution because political parties were telling
their members on what to say to the outreach team,” said Ncube who is also
the Industry and Commerce Minister.
According to Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed on September 15, 2008,
commits President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF and the two MDC factions led by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Ncube to a new constitution that will
pave way for a free and fair election.
The two MDC factions endorsed the draft, but Zanu PF’s politburo sat on four
occasions during which it amended the draft before handing out copies to its
A delegation of officials and businesspeople from South Africa arrived in
Zimbabwe on Sunday to begin a trade and investment conference, the
department of trade and industry said.
14 October 2012 | Sapa
JOHANNESBURG - The delegation is being led by deputy minister of trade and
industry Elizabeth Thabethe for the fourth annual Investment and Trade
Initiative (ITI), the department said in a statement.
The South African exhibition officially opens on Monday and will feature
businesspeople displaying their wares and services.
The ITI is part of the department's export and investment promotion strategy
that focuses on high-growth markets with the intent of creating
opportunities for South African businesses.
The business delegation will include companies from sectors such as
construction, manufacturing, agriculture and processing, mining, and
14 October 2012
By Anatoly Medetsky
Rosneft president Igor Sechin on a recent visit to Venezuela, where the
company recently began producing oil as part of an international consortium.
Rosneft is looking to build a $700 million oil-products pipeline from
Mozambique to Zimbabwe in an effort to expand its international reach.
That would also mark the oil producer's first foray into pipeline
The new route seeks to compete with shipments to Zimbabwe by road from
neighboring South Africa that supplement supplies through an existing
pipeline, which is working at full capacity, Roman Trotsenko, an adviser to
Rosneft president Igor Sechin, said late last week.
"Gasoline prices here are among the world's highest," Trotsenko said late
Thursday, Itar-Tass reported.
Rosneft expects to obtain construction permits and conclude the necessary
agreements by the end of this year, he said.
The new pipeline — from Mozambique's port of Beira to Zimbabwe's capital,
Harare, Trotsenko said — will presumably run alongside the current
The project also includes construction of a storage depot near Harare and a
sea terminal in Beira. The terminal will come at an additional cost,
The pipeline may later be extended to Zambia, Malawi and Botswana, he added.
Rosneft announced its African ambitions after Zimbabwean Energy and Power
Development Minister Elton Mangoma said in August that the government
planned a new pipeline to boost fuel imports. He said the project, which the
parties involved hope to begin early next year, could be done by a
consortium that includes the Mozambican government and private players.
The existing pipeline from Mozambique has a capacity of 130 million liters a
month, which amounts to 1.3 million metric tons or 9.8 million barrels per
year. Zimbabwean officials said the new line would carry up to 300 million
liters a month.
Zimbabwe's consumption of oil products is about 5 million tons per year,
Rosneft has some pipeline construction experience. It completed a major
550-kilometer pipeline that linked its Siberian oil field Vankor with the
country's main pipeline network.
The African project, Trotsenko said, is a chance for Rosneft to win a new
sales market. He didn't elaborate.
Rosneft hoped to draw financing for the project with the help of Russia's
government-owned Export Insurance Agency, or Exiar, Trotsenko said. Some
Russian companies will furnish equipment for the pipeline, he said.
In other foreign projects, Rosneft recently began producing oil in Venezuela
as part of an international consortium.
A Russian delegation led by Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov
visited Zimbabwe and Mozambique earlier this month to explore investment
During the visit, Russia and Zimbabwe signed an agreement to protect mutual
investments, which Manturov said laid the groundwork for Russian companies
to become more active in the African country.
Russian companies are ready to invest in Zimbabwe's infrastructure and
metallurgy and to export mining equipment, vehicles and helicopters, he
Zimbabwe tamed its hyperinflation in 2009 and resumed its economic growth
after a decade of a free-fall.
Manturov met with the presidents of Mozambique and Zimbabwe, Armando Guebuza
and Robert Mugabe, respectively, during the trip. Executives from such
companies as Rosneft, Norilsk Nickel, Russian Helicopters and Exiar
accompanied the minister.
In Mozambique, Manturov offered Russian-made helicopters and cooperation in
developing the country's gas, oil and coal deposits as well as building
ports and railways.
With Peter Tatchell Ephraim Tapa addresses the Forum
A ‘pom pom’ for Vigil supporters. Today marked the beginning of our 11th year outside the Embassy in line with the mission statement we adopted in 2002: ‘The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.’
Today was certainly no celebration as our objectives are far from being achieved. But on our 10th anniversary our thoughts turned to our decade of sun, rain, wind and snow and particularly our memories of friends who are with us no more: dear quiet Bernard Hukwa who threw himself into the Thames only months ago or, years earlier, the gaunt, dying MDC shadow minister who sat huddled silently in blankets for the whole of a bitterly cold Vigil, or of the late Father Bernard SJ who used to come with his Zimbabwean students, and of Archbishop Pius Ncube who came and comforted people at the Vigil kneeling at his feet.
There are many other people who have sustained us over the past decade: the silent benefactor who would from time to time stuff a wad of £20 notes into our startled hands, the Oxford music professor who joined us in a local pub to tutor us on singing, the film stars such as Tim Robbins and Emma Thompson who signed our petitions not to mention Simon Callow who stopped his taxi to get out and give us some money. And we don’t forget the nuns who pray for us from their Welsh convent.
But this is all the past. We went on after the Vigil down the road to the India Club in the Aldwych. where Ephraim Tapa, one of the founder members of the Vigil, chaired a meeting to discuss the way forward. He mentioned the BBC interview this week given by the Zanu PF Justice Minister Chinamasa in which he made it clear that Zanu PF will never hand over power (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/oct12_2012.html#Z22 – Would Zanu-PF accept Tsvangirai as president?).
Many people expressed despair at the situation at home: that it had economically gone backward and that they couldn’t go home, that the Chinese were settling the country etc. Our group consisted of people representing a variety of viewpoints from MDC to ZAPU but there was a strong feeling that we needed to unite in the diaspora in the face of the uncertainties at home, where the suggestions are that elections might be impossible before late next year. Eddie Cross of MDC-T and others including Welshman Ncube and civil society people say that expectations of elections by next March are unrealistic because there is simply not time to make the necessary reforms (see: http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/comment/blogs/eddie-cross/61387/the-real-game-changer-zuma.html – The real game-changer Zuma, SADC).
The meeting ended troubled and uncertain but with determination to continue the Vigil until our objectives are achieved. As Ephraim put it ‘We are doing it for (imprisoned MDC youth leader) Solomon Madzore and the others, for people who have disappeared, for those who hope for democracy in Zimbabwe, for a free Zimbabwe’.
· We were happy to be joined by the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell who earlier sent us this email: ‘"Happy 10th birthday to the Zimbabwe Vigil. Congratulations and bravo! Huge thanks to the organisers and to everyone who has ever participated. Your weekly witness for democracy and human rights has been admirable and inspiring. Freedom for Zimbabwe has been long delayed but it cannot be denied!’ Peter was at the first Vigil. Other good wishes included a message from a Scottish supporter Joan Weir ‘All good wishes for Saturday's Vigil from me and friends in Scotland – very sorry I can't be there. No celebration perhaps but you must accept congratulations on sustaining the Vigil so long and, as importantly, so effectively. I hope the media take up the extraordinary facts about the corrupt voters' roll.’ A more message one was from Gerald Chigome ‘I am sorry I will be unable to attend due to financial problems. Am in Wolverhampton but would have loved to attend. All the best for day and forward with the struggle’.
· Thanks to the ladies from ROHR Slough branch (Josephine Zhuga, Grace Nyaumwe and Iline Manhunzi) who brought sadza and nyama and mealies which they sold for ROHR funds. Thanks also to Mary Mateyerwa and Flora Dlamini (of the Swazi Vigil) who brought various snacks to feed hungry supporters.
· We were distressed to hear that our strong supporter Ellen Gonyora was homeless this week and had to sleep on the streets of Leicester. She is in the process of getting her life sorted out after being granted asylum. Sorting out housing and benefits can be a lengthy and painful process and this is where we can all help and support each other.
· Rose Benton was interviewed about our 10th anniversary by SW Radio Africa (check: Newsreel 12.10.12 (24 minutes into the broadcast) – http://www.swradioafrica.com/podcasts/wordpress/?p=17948).
· Cephas Moswoswa suggested that our next diaspora protest on Saturday should be focused on China because of their abusive relationship with Zimbabweans. It was agreed to take this forward. (Another member of the Vigil Lungile Ncube was delighted to come across Cephas who he said had built his father’s house.)
· We were not the only people protesting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy this week. Activists from the transport union RMT delivered a letter to the Embassy calling on Zimbabwe to honour its human rights obligations and stop attacks on lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual Zimbabweans – photos of the protest are on our flickr website.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website.
FOR THE RECORD: 75 signed the register but our pictures show many more attended.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
· Tenth 21st Movement Free Zimbabwe Global Protest. Saturday 20th October. It is suggested we target the Chines Embassy. More detail as arrangement firm up.
· Launch of ROHR Central London Branch. Saturday 27th October. Further details to be advised.
· Special Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 10th November from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Our special guest will be Ben Freeth. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Directions: The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
· Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2011 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/363-vigil-highlights-2011. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2011 Highlights page.
· The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.
· ZBN News. The Vigil management team wishes to make it clear that the Zimbabwe Vigil is not responsible for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network News (ZBN News). We are happy that they attend our activities and provide television coverage but we have no control over them. All enquiries about ZBN News should be addressed to ZBN News.
· The Zim Vigil band (Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani) has launched its theme song ‘Vigil Yedu (our Vigil)’ to raise awareness through music. To download this single, visit: www.imusicafrica.com and to watch the video check: http://ourvigil.notlong.com. To watch other Zim Vigil band protest songs, check: http://Shungurudza.notlong.com and http://blooddiamonds.notlong.com.
· Vigil Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8157345519&ref=ts.
· Vigil Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil.
· To sponsor the Mike Campbell Foundation expedition ‘Sailing across the Makgadikgadi Pans’ which will raise money for the work of the Foundation, go to www.justgiving.com/Mike-Campbell-Foundation.
· Useful websites: www.zanupfcrime.com which reports on Zanu PF abuses and www.ipaidabribe.org.zw where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.
PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES SERIES
[12th October 2012]
Public Hearings on 2013 National Budget: 15th to 19th October
The House of Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion will conduct hearings on the 2013 National Budget in twelve centres around the country from 15th to 19th October. A hearing in Harare will follow later. The portfolio committee will split into two teams to enable it to cover the whole country. The programme for coming week is as follows:
Monday 15th October
Chinhoyi Cooksey Memorial Hall 9 am to 11 am
Marondera Farmers' Hall 9 am to 11 am
Tuesday 16th October
Kwekwe Kwekwe Theatre 9 am to 11 am
Gweru Gweru Theatre 2 pm to 4 pm
Mutare Queen’s Hall 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm
Wednesday 17th October
Bulawayo Small City Hall 9 am to 11 am
Masvingo Civic Centre 11.30 am to 1 pm
Gwanda Gwanda Club 2 pm to 4 pm
Thursday 18th October
Lupane Community Hall 11 am to 1 pm
Chiredzi Chitsanga Hall 11.30 am to 1 pm
Friday 19th October
Beit Bridge Holiday Inn Express 9 am to 11 am
Victoria Falls Chinotimba Hall 9 am to 11 am
About the Hearings
The purpose of the hearings is spelled out in section 28 of the Public Finance Management Act, which states that t
· the Minister of Finance may through the portfolio committee seek the views of Parliament in the preparation and formulation of the national budget
· the portfolio committee must for that purpose “conduct public hearings to elicit the opinions of as many stakeholders in the national annual budget as possible”.
The hearings therefore give all stakeholders – interest groups, business organisations, farmers, miners and members of the general public – an opportunity to influence the crafting of the 2013 Budget through the portfolio committee. Public input at the hearings will be included in a report to be presented to the Minister for consideration as the 2013 Budget is put together in the Ministry. The chairperson of the committee, Hon Zhanda, will also present a report to the House of Assembly when the Budget is debated in Parliament. The Minister will present the Budget on Thursday 15th November.
Interested persons are invited to attend the hearings, at which they will be given the opportunity to make contributions. If you want to make oral representations, signify this to the Committee Clerk before the hearing so that he can notify the chairperson to call on you. An oral submission is more effective if followed up in writing. If you are making a written submission, it is advisable to take as many copies as possible for circulation at the hearing.
Written submissions and correspondence are also welcome and should be addressed to: The Clerk of Parliament, Attention: Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion. Parliament’s postal address is P.O. Box CY298 Causeway, Harare. If delivering, please use the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue entrance to Parliament, between Second and Third Streets, Harare.
NB: Members of the public who cannot attend meetings, including Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, can at any time send written submissions to committees by email addressed to to firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information contact the committee clerk, Mr Chris Ratsakatika. Telephone (0)4 252931, 252936/7, 252941. Cellphone 0772 428 946. E-mail email@example.com
Ministry of Finance Budget Stakeholder Consultations
As part of its Budget preparations the Ministry of Finance has released its Pre-Budget Strategy Paper [available from firstname.lastname@example.org as a 2 MB pdf document]. The Ministry will be holding provincial consultations from 16th to 30th October – Veritas will distribute details as soon as they are available. These consultations are in addition to the Parliamentary public hearings.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied
BILL WATCH 47/2012
[13th October 2012]
Both Houses of Parliament Met on Tuesday 9th October and Have Adjourned until 15th November
No Date Yet for Official Opening of Next Parliamentary Session
Correction of Error
In Bill Watch 46/2012 of 9th October the item on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s invitation to organisations wishing to provide voter education gave an incorrect telephone number for making enquiries of the Commission. The correct number is Harare 770340. Veritas apologises.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act Gazetted
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act was gazetted on Friday 12th October as Act No 2/2012. It came into force immediately. [Act available from email@example.com]
Although members of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission [ZHRC] were sworn in on 31st March 2010, the Commission has been waiting for the promulgation of this Act to enable it to become operational. Members have however been able to prepare for their duties by paying familiarisation visits to similar national human right institutions in other countries in the interim. Now, however, they should be able to get down to work, which includes hearing complaints of human rights violations – both current and those since 13th February 2009. Their work will also include something not specifically mentioned in the ZHRC Act or the Constitution – a pivotal role in the implementation measures against politically-motivated violence and intimidation in the context of the coming general elections. This is provided for in the new Part XVIIIB of the Electoral Act, as enacted in the Electoral Amendment Act gazetted on 28th September 2012. [Electoral Amendment Act available from firstname.lastname@example.org]
Facilitators in Harare
Members of the South African facilitation team arrived in Harare on 9th October to check on progress in the constitution-making process and on the Roadmap to Elections. They were able to see that preparations for the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference were more or less on track. But MDC’s Prof Ncube told them on 9th October that elections could not be held in March 2013 – ZANU-PF’s latest idea – because reforms had not been put in place. And their visit also saw the unnecessarily physical police arrest of MDC-T Minister of Energy and Power Development Elton Mangoma on 10th October on allegations of undermining the President in a speech at a party function in Bindura in May. The Minister denies using the words attributed to him; he was held at the police station for 3 hours and only released after making a warned and cautioned statement. The next day MDC-T leader Mr Tsvangirai met the team and told them the political environment was being poisoned by ZANU-PF violence and intimidation and partial police action against MDC-T in stopping rallies and making arrests.
Annual Budget Preparations
2013 Budget to be presented 15th November The Minister of Finance has given formal written notice under Parliamentary Standing Orders that he will present the 2013 National Budget Statement on Thursday 15th November. His Pre-Budget Strategy Paper has been issued [available from email@example.com as a 2 MB pdf document].
Victoria Falls Pre-Budget Seminar On 9th October the presiding officers in both Houses of Parliament announced the Pre-Budget Seminar for Parliamentarians, which will run from Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th November at Elephant Hills, Victoria Falls. The seminar’s purpose is to enhance the contribution of members of Parliament to the process of budget formulation and prioritisation.
Other Budget preparations Without waiting for the next session to be officially opened, Parliament’s Budget programme will start with public hearings by the House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion all round the country from Monday 15th to Friday 19th October [details in separate Bill Watch Parliamentary Committee Series bulletin], with a hearing in Harare later.
After the Budget presentation The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion, Hon Zhanda, has warned that Parliament will not be prepared to rubber-stamp the Budget without proper consideration – Ministers will have to defend their Budget allocations. And after presentation of the Budget on 15th November the committee will require two weeks to study it. This clashes with the Minister’s programme for the Budget to be debated and passed by both Houses by the end of November. [Note: the original Parliamentary calendar for 2012 envisaged no sittings at all in December, but the calendar is flexible and has already been departed from several times.]
In Parliament Last Week
Both Houses sat for only one day - 9th October
House of Assembly
Death of Hon Mudenge
Members observed a minute’s silence in memory of the late MP for Masvingo North and Minister of Higher Education and Technology, Hon Stan Mudenge, who died on 24th September.
Securities Bill The Securities Bill was presented on behalf of the Minister of Finance by the Minister of Energy and Power Development and was given its first reading. It was then referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for its report on the Bill’s constitutionality.
National Incomes and Pricing Commission Bill – this item was not taken. The Minister of Industry and Commerce has not yet delivered his second reading speech.
Motion on following up Government assurances to Parliament
Hon Sululu, MDC-T MP for Silobela, presented his motion on the need for a follow-up mechanism on Ministerial assurances to Parliament. Hon Eddie Cross, MDC-T MP for Bulawayo South seconded. After a two-hour debate that included contributions by both MDC-T and ZANU-PF MPs, the House adopted a resolution calling on committees:
· to follow up resolutions, including resolutions adopting portfolio committee reports, and Government undertakings given on the floor of the House
· to propose the imposition of sanctions [not specified during the debate] by the House on any Minister who fails to respond to committee reports.
Contributors deplored Ministers’ failure to implement committee recommendations and assurances given to the House and its committees, complaining that the Government does not take the House sufficiently seriously. Hon Cross suggested that MPs should consider refusing to approve the forthcoming Budget if the Minister of Finance does not take on board input from the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development. There were calls for the revival of the former Committee on Government Assurances which functioned until 2005.
Death of Senator Rimbi Senators observed a minute’s silence in honour of the late Senator Josiah Rimbi, MDC-T elected Senator for Chipinge.
The Swakopmund Protocol on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore [a protocol within the framework of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation] was approved without debate. Such protocols have to be approved by Parliament [section 111B of the Constitution] and as this one has already been approved by the House of Assembly, the Government can now ratify it.
PLC adverse reports on statutory instruments The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs brought Senators up to date on developments over the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] adverse reports on a large number of statutory instruments dealing with charging of fees and penalties by local authorities. He read out the joint statement agreed between himself and the PLC in terms of which the statutory instruments will be amended to take into account the PLC’s concerns. PLC chairperson Shepherd Mushonga then withdrew the adverse reports. Another outcome of the agreement reached is that municipal uniformed employees will be gazetted as “prescribed officers” authorised to invite and receive deposit fines under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
The only PLC item left for discussion is the adverse report on the Minister of Defence’s SI 61/2012 restricting access to Army’s boarding school by declaring it to be a cantonment. The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs has advised the Minister of Defence to repeal the SI.
Status of Bills as at 12th October 2012
Private Member’s Bills held up pending Supreme Court decision
Public Order and Security Amendment Bill
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill
Urban Councils Amendment Bill
[See Bill Watch 20 and 21 of 15th May 2012 for background]
Bill awaiting Second Reading
National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill
Bill being considered by Parliamentary Legal Committee
Securities Amendment Bill [referred to PLC after its first reading on 9th October]
Bills gazetted and ready for presentation in Parliament
Microfinance Bill [gazetted on 31st August] [not yet available]
Bills being printed None.
Government Gazette of 12th October
Acts The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act was gazetted on 12th October
Bills No Bills were gazetted
Statutory Instruments [copies not available]
State procurement SI 160/2012 contains a new schedule of administration fees and penalties applied by the State Procurement Board. SI 159/2012 lists new monetary thresholds for implementation of various tender procedures, plus updated lists of public enterprises and local authorities bound by the Procurement Act and regulations.
Rural district councils SI 158/2012 contains standard-form by-laws regulating land use and conservation for communal and resettlement land in the Nkayi RDC area. SI 157/2012 is a proclamation transferring two pieces of land between wards of the Manyame RDC area.
General Notices [copies not available]
Competition and Tariff Commission Three notices contain information about Commission decisions: GN 465/2012 sets out the order the Commission proposes to issue to stop restrictive trade practices by CIMAS medical aid society affecting haemodialysis treatment, and calls for representations from interested persons or parties. GN 466 and 467/2012 announce that the Commission is about to investigate allegations of restrictive trade practices against CIMAS re use of laboratory services, and against Innscor Africa Ltd re use of its position in the basic commodities market to restrict competitors and potential entrants.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied
COURT WATCH 19/2012
[14th October 2012]
Appeal to Supreme Court in By-Election Case
Court Case to Compel President to hold By-Elections
Reminder: The ex-MPs for three constituencies in Matabeleland which fell vacant in July 2009, when they were expelled by MDC-M, took the President to court in August 2010 for failing to call by-elections. [There is are constitutional and legal provisions that a by-election most be called within 14 days after Parliament notifies the President of a vacancy.] They won their case in the High Court in Bulawayo on 13th October 2011. The President appealed to the Supreme Court against this decision, but on 12th July 2012 the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal and ordered him to call the by-elections by 30th August. The reasons for this decision have still not been given. President Mugabe, instead of complying, made a last-minute application to the High Court for an extension of one month, and on 30th August High Court Judge-President Chiweshe, sitting in Harare, granted an extension of the deadline until 1st October. [More detail can be found in Court Watch 14/2012 of 28th July.]
Court Grants Second Extension of By-Elections Deadline to 31st March 2013
A few days before the 1st October deadline, another application for an extension was filed on behalf of the President, this time seeking an extension until the end of March 2013. The argument presented in an affidavit by the Minister of Justice was that calling for these three by-elections would create a precedent for demanding by-elections for the other 23 Parliamentary and more than 160 local authority council vacancies and Government lacked resources as it still had to hold the constitutional Referendum. He also pointed out that it was the President’s wish to hold the coming general elections in March 2013. [Comment: an argument about lack of State resources should not affect the justice of a case; there is also an illogicality in the argument that if the general elections are to be held in March asking for an extension to call by-elections by the end of March really means they would not take place at all, which makes setting that date for an extension meaningless.]
The lawyers for the three would-be candidates opposed the President’s application, raising objections on:
· preliminary procedural grounds, mainly that Justice Chiweshe had no jurisdiction to change a Supreme Court order
· the merits of the President’s reasons for wanting the extension.
Sitting in chambers, not open court, Justice Chiweshe heard legal argument from both sides on 1st and 2nd October and later on 2nd October announced his decision granting the President an extension to 31st March 2013, as requested. He added that his written reasons for rejecting the procedural objections and for granting the extension would follow later. To date they have not been released [see below].
Effect of 6 month extension
It is important to note that Justice Chiweshe’s extension means that the voting in the by-elections could be in June 2013. This is because he extension actually gives the President until 31st March 2013 to call the by-elections – which is not the same completing them by that date. Under the Electoral Act the President must call by-elections by gazetting a notice setting dates for the sitting of the nomination court [not more than 21 days after the Gazette notice] and polling [not more than 50 days after the nomination court sitting]. This means that if the President waits until 31st March 2013 to call the by-elections by gazetting the necessary notices, voting in the by-elections could be as late as 10th June 2013 – de facto not at all in light of general elections next year. [Reminder this case has been ongoing since August 2009 – it would create a sad precedent if a constitutional case can be delayed this long and then just fall away.]
Would-be candidates want to appeal to Supreme Court
The candidates wish to pursue their opposition to the extension by appealing to the Supreme Court to get Justice Chiweshe’s latest decision set aside. Their lawyers are working on an appeal which will focus on the jurisdictional point – whether Justice Chiweshe, as a High Court judge, had the power to modify a decision reached by the Supreme Court. This was one of the preliminary objections unsuccessfully raised before Justice Chiweshe in argument.
Lack of Reasons for Judgment – A Difficulty for the Appellants
No reasons from Justice Chiweshe A member of the candidates’ legal team has confirmed that, until Justice Chiweshe’s has handed down his written reasons for last Tuesday’s decision, it will be difficult for them to formulate the notice of appeal which the rules of court require. A letter has accordingly been sent to the Registrar of the High Court asking for Justice Chiweshe’s judgment to be provided.
No Supreme Court reasons either The Supreme Court has also made life difficult for all involved in this case – Justice Chiweshe, the lawyers, their clients and other interested parties – by not providing its reasons for its decision of 12th July against the President. .
Not only is the lack of reasons difficult for the lawyers et al, but it also causes unfortunate public speculation as to how a Supreme Court order for relatively prompt calling of by-elections came to be transformed into a ruling that could turn out to mean the by-elections will never be held. No-one should have to speculate on why a court has reached its decision in any case, let alone one with political ramifications. An inevitable result of speculation is a loss of the esteem and respect with which all courts should be regarded and a tarnishing of the reputation for impartiality to which an independent judiciary should aspire.
Questions in Mind of Public
Can the Constitution be ignored? There has naturally been public interest in this case, which has both political and constitutional ramifications, and comes at a time of a new constitution-making exercise. There is recognition of the binding nature of a constitution and the obligations it imposes on a country’s institutions – not just on the executive and the legislature, but also on the judiciary. Not only do the Constitution and the Electoral Act lay down provisions for filling vacancies in Parliament, but the Constitution also spells out every citizen’s right to be represented in Parliament. In July the Supreme Court’s order seemed to have confirmed that the President must comply with the Constitution and the Electoral Act. How can a single High Court judge then extend that deadline, for all practical purposes indefinitely? Are the courts not meant to be the guardians of the Constitution?
Is a March general election date now legally inevitable? Another public concern is: has the country somehow been legally committed to a March 2013 general election by the affidavit on behalf of the President lodged in the application for the by-elections extension? The answer is No. The President can only set a general election date by a proclamation in the Government Gazette – and the Prime Minister’s agreement would be needed for general elections in March [GPA, Article 20.1.3(q)]. In any event, the statement to the High Court said only that it was the President’s “desire” that the general elections be held in March.
The separation of powers principle
In a critical comment dated 5th October the Research and Advocacy Unit characterise the excuse that by-elections could not be held due to financial constraints as “simply a delaying tactic already rejected by the Supreme Court”, and also remind readers that it is the Electoral Act that insists on the prompt holding of by-elections. RAU suggest that Justice Chiweshe’s extension of the by-election deadline is a violation of the separation of powers principle established by the constitution, because:
· It is not for the judiciary or the executive to decide that the will of the legislature does not require compliance. It is for the legislature to decide that the law is inappropriate and if so to amend the relevant Act.
· It is not for the courts or the President to decide which laws can be ignored out of political expediency – that would be inconsistent with the rule of law.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied