via ‘Compel ministers, judges to declare assets’ NewsDay September 24, 2013
LEGISLATORS are today expected to debate President Robert Mugabe’s speech that he made at the official opening of the first session of the Eighth Parliament when it resumes sitting.
In his official remarks setting the legislative agenda a fortnight ago, the President said Parliament would be required to align pieces of legislation to the new Constitution that was voted for in a referendum on March 16.
The new Parliament is dominated by Zanu PF following its landslide victory in the July 31 polls. According to a local leading lawyers’ grouping that monitors parliamentary issues, Veritas, only six of the 29 Bills Mugabe mentioned had anything to do with aligning existing laws with the new Constitution, or underpinning new constitutional structures and institutions while other Bills were outstanding legislative business from the previous Parliament.
“Zimbabwe Land Commission Bill will give legal underpinning to the establishment of the Zimbabwe Land Commission, and its taking over the tasks and role previously performed by the Agricultural Land Settlement Board.
“Sections 296 and 297 of the Constitution create the commission and list its functions,” Veritas said.
“The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission Amendment Bill is necessary to align existing provisions to the new Constitution. The President also said that members of the commission would be required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and also to publicly declare their personal assets.”
The declaration of assets requirements, Veritas proposed, should be enacted for Cabinet ministers, judges and other holders of important public offices.
The National Prosecuting Authority Bill would be bolstered by the establishment of the National Prosecuting Authority as prescribed in the new Constitution which would take over the functions previously performed by the criminal division of the Attorney-General’s Office.
However, Veritas observed that Mugabe did not mention Bills for the other new commissions set in the new Constitution such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (Constitution, sections 251 to 253) and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (Constitution, sections 245 to 247).
Mugabe did not refer to the need for new Acts for provincial and metropolitan councils.
“It is disappointing that the President’s speech made only token references to what needs to be done to align existing legislation with the new Constitution,” said Veritas.
“Acts that urgently require such alignment, but went unmentioned by the President, include (the list is far from exhaustive) Citizenship Act, Public Order and Security Act, Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, University Acts, Police Act, Defence Act, Prisons Act and the Electoral Act.”
Vetitas said several Acts, such as the Health Services Act, Medical Services Act and Public Health Act, would need to be urgently amended to reflect Mugabe’s call for the prevention of disease and afford every Zimbabwean the right for health care treatment.
In his opening speech, Mugabe also listed several Bills to cover education, banking, insurance, consumer protection, poverty alleviation, business and mining, among others.