ZEC gazettes local authority women’s quota

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

ZEC gazettes local authority women’s quota 
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda

Zvamaida Murwira

Senior Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has gazetted the actual numbers of additional councillors at each local authority to meet the 30 percent of the total membership of each local authority now reserved for women party-list councillors in accordance with the Constitution.

This comes as President Mnangagwa has given his assent to the Judicial Laws Amendment Bill which seeks to provide for virtual court sittings in both civil and criminal proceedings and to align various provisions of judicial laws to the Constitution.

The women’s quota for local authorities is part of the Second Republic’s deliberate policies to empower women as it walks its talk of leaving no place and no one behind.

Government has since extended by another 10 years, the women’s quota in Parliament where an additional 60 women from the country’s 10 provinces have had their seats reserved.

In a Statutory Instrument published in an Extraordinary Government Gazette yesterday, ZEC said the publication of the women’s quota in each local authority was in line with Section 277 (4) of the Constitution.

The women will form part of those candidates for the August 23 harmonised elections who will file their nomination papers today and will be elected through proportionate representation, that is the votes obtained by the candidates representing wards, are added together for each party, and then split in the proportions each won.

According to the schedule, Harare City Council has the highest number of extra councillors as it has 14 extra women from the 45 wards. Examples of rural district quota increases are Makoni rural district council with 12 extra women quota candidates out of 39 wards, Zvimba RDC with 11 from 35 wards, Gutu RDC with 12 from 41 wards and Gokwe North RDC 11 out of 36 wards.

Those local authorities with one of the lowest numbers of the women’s quota include Chirundu local board with 1 out of three wards, Zvishavane town council has three from 10 wards, Mvurwi town council has two out of six wards.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, has said the Judicial Laws Amendment Bill is now law after President gave his assent to the Bill that sailed through Parliament recently.

Dr Sibanda made the announcement in an Extraordinary Government Gazette published yesterday.

The Bill also provides for the establishment of the Office of the Messenger of the Labour Court to enforce judgments.

The Bill will amend the Constitutional Court Act, Supreme Court Act, High Court Act, Administrative Court and Labour Court to provide for virtual court sittings in both civil and criminal proceedings subject to the consent of the parties involved.

Introduction of virtual platforms initially came as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which restricted gatherings owing to the infectious nature of the disease.

Commenting on the passage of the Act, Kwekwe based lawyer, Mr Valentine Mutatu, said virtual courts or the electronic court system has improved the justice delivery system in a fundamental way.

“It now allows both the court and the practitioners to be time conscious. Secondly, the issue of costs to the clients will be reduced because of virtual filing and virtual hearing. It also reduces bogus lawyers because in order for anyone to be practicing within the system, you have to be registered with the Law Society of Zimbabwe,” said Mr Mutatu.

“If you look at the criminal system, when accused persons are coming to court for routine remand, it is costly to visit a physical court simply to be told to come in the next 14 days. Virtual remand court therefore helps in plugging the unnecessary movements and attendant costs.

“On the issue of appointment of the Deputy Judge president, the amendment is progressive. We now have five divisions of the High Court and other specialised courts like the Commercial Court and Fiscal Appeal Court. Clearly the Judge president was overwhelmed.”

Another lawyer concurred with Mr Mutatu saying the enactment of the law was prudent.

“The law will clean up justice delivery hygienic issues which will inevitably improve the administration of justice in the country,” said the lawyer who preferred anonymity.

Clause Five of the Bill amends section 13 of the High Court Act to provide that no claim which is ordinarily within the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court or any other inferior court or tribunal shall be lodged with the High Court in the first instance.

Clause six amends the High Court Act by allowing the notice published by the Chief Justice to specify the area under the jurisdiction of the specific division of a specialist court to curb the misuse of forum shopping.

One example of forum shopping is an instance where a rich Plaintiff makes it more difficult for an indigent defendant to defend a case by initiating action in a court far away from where that defendant resides.

Clause 19 gives power to the court to release an accused person with hearing impairment on bail or remove such person from remand where the State has failed to secure the services of a sign language interpreter.