via Govt sets up inter-ministerial committee to realign laws Sunday, 27 October 2013 by Lincoln Towindo Sunday Mail
Government has appointed an inter-ministerial committee to realign the country’s laws with provisions of the new Constitution as the country moves ahead with efforts to operationalise several institutions established under the new charter.
Law officers from all Government ministries are currently receiving training in legal drafting at the Centre for Applied Legal Research (CALR) as the process gathers steam.
Government ministries and departments have also been asked to prioritise specific laws which are critical to their operational systems and pave way for the establishment of new commissions and government divisions such as the envisaged National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
An unconfirmed number of lay drafts from several ministries have already been submitted to the Legislation Drafting Department at the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs which is leading the realignment process.
Most Government ministries will have an average of 100 legal instruments that need attention to align to the new Constitution.
The Ministry of Justice, for instance, will need to align an estimated 160 pieces of legislation.
Responding to questions from The Sunday Mail, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Mrs Virginia Mabhiza, revealed that in some cases Government will resort to amending laws through general amendments. She added that her ministry is prioritising the drafting of the Prosecuting Authority Bill which will pave way for the creation of the NPA.
“The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has been working in conjunction with other Government ministries and departments to amend existing legislation in order to bring it into conformity with the new Constitution,” she said
“An inter-ministerial committee comprising of all Government ministries and departments was formed and tasked with the review of legislation under their administration in order to identify and amend the legislative provisions that now fall short of the constitutional standards.
“Law officers in Government ministries and departments are receiving training from the Centre for Applied Legal Research (CALR) in legal drafting to aid them in the alignment of the statutes that their ministries administer.
“The Ministry of Justice specifically has already prepared layman’s drafts of the amendments that have been necessitated by the coming into force of the new Constitution and these have been submitted to the Legislative Drafting department.
“A General Laws Amendments Bill will be tabled in Parliament which will seek to give effect to these amendments.”
CALR is a research institution that offers legal expertise, specialised legal training and technical support to private corporations, governments and developmental partners.
The Government could incur lawsuits at the Constitutional Court if it fails to bring the identified laws in line with the new charter.
Among the laws that need to be enacted urgently are provisions for the operationalisation of the provincial councils, regularisation of new commissions, alignment of terms of citizenship rights, new statutes on the death penalty, procurement and broadcasting services.
Mrs Mabhiza explained how cumbersome the process of realigning the laws is going to be.“One must consider that in some instances a certain constitutional provision will necessitate the realignment of various Acts and not just one,” she said.
“For instance, because of the creation of the National Prosecuting Authority, many pieces of legislation will have to be amended textually so that they refer to the ‘Prosecutor-General’ instead of the ‘Attorney-General’. That is the similar case with other ministries as well.
“Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice is conscious of the human rights considerations that have been raised by the coming into force of the new Constitution and hence Acts such as the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07), which deals with the rights of the accused, will require specific and immediate attention and the changes to be made thereto will not be merely textual but substantive.”
The new Constitution was signed into law by President Mugabe on May 22 this year after overwhelmingly being endorsed during a March 16 Referendum.