via Draconian laws to go | The Financial Gazette by Clemence Manyukwe 24 Oct 2013
THE government is in the process of amending all laws in line with the new Constitution which grants people greater liberties than previous legislation.
The Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Fortune Chasi told the Financial Gazette this week that it was in the interest of government that every law be compliant with the Constitution.
He, however, could not give a timeframe on when all the laws would be realigned as some of the processes take place outside the Justice Ministry.
“The Constitution is the supreme law and we have a number of statutes all of which have got to be measured against the Constitution. In other words, they must be intra vires,” said Chasi.
“It is in our interest that every law is compliant with the constitution, otherwise the Constitutional Court can make a ruling (stricking them off). Given that there are processes that take place outside the ministry for example in Parliament and Cabinet, it would be difficult to give a timeframe.”
He said government would start with laws that have a bearing on people’s freedoms such as the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA).
Section 21 of the CPEA has been criticised by human rights defenders as it gives prosecutors the power to veto bail orders granted by magistrates to prolong the detention of suspects.
A number of perceived ZANU-PF opponents and critics have fallen victim to the law.
In the last Parliament, Movement for Democratic Change Mutare Central Member of Parliament, Innocent Gonese attempted to introduce amendments to CPEA as well as the Public Order and Security Act through a Private Members Bill, but his efforts were blocked by ZANU-PF.
Chasi’s remarks come against the backdrop of the inclusive government’s failure to realign a number of laws with the Constitution, some of which were dubbed outstanding Global Political Agreement issues.
One such issue is that of media reforms which previous information minister Webster Shamu said were illegal.
But addressing, journalists three weeks ago at the National Journalism and Media Awards, Deputy Information Minister, Supa Mandiwanzira, said the completion of a new Constitution in Zimbabwe had resulted in all the sticking issues between government and the media being resolved.
The new Constitution explicitly recognises the freedom of the press, unlike the Lancaster House constitution, which only talked about freedom of expression.