via Majome calls for harmonisation of laws | The Zimbabwean 06.04.14 by Nelson Sibanda
MDC-T Member of Parliament for Harare West, Jessie Majome, has challenged civil society, women groups and other influential stakeholders to lobby for a speedy alignment of Zimbabwe laws in line with the Constitution.
Jessie Majome: CSOs have the mandate to make sure the executive speeds up the realignment of laws as provided for in the Constitution.
She discouraged CSOs from disengaging from important national programs such as the Constitution making process, since it was their mandate to apply pressure and make sure the right things were done.
“It is now close to a year after the new Constitution was signed into law by the President, but no Bill regarding alignments of the laws as required by the Constitution has been brought before Parliament,” Majome said, noting that the situation would be addressed if CSOs play their role in this regard.
Majome pointed out that lack of the alignments resulted in offices such as those of the Prosecutor General and the Attorney General having indistinct roles against provisions of the supreme laws of the land.
Continued observance of the Public Order and Security Act among other outdated laws, were cited as consequences of delayed alignment of the laws.
Executive not keen
The outspoken legislator, trained lawyer and woman activist, Majome, said the executive looked not keen to align the laws and consequently, people continued to experience illegal restrictions as they go about their daily activities.
Women groups, according to Majome, should move from the periphery of national programs and strategically reposition themselves.
Though Majome acknowledged that CSOs were caught in the political turmoil during the Constitution making process, she took a swipe at NGOs for failing to agree on the wide objective of their participation in the process.
According to Majome, CSOs squandered the opportunity to enhance greater public participation and democratisation of the Constitution making process.
She reminded CSOs that there was no reason to expect Zimbabwe to come up with a purely non-political Constitution, given the fact that the process would lead to the making of the supreme law of the land.
Non participation of the National Consultative Assembly was partly blamed for the hiccups experienced in the Constitution making process.
“The NCA has a crucial role to play in the Constitution making and should not have pulled out,” Majome said.
CSOs partly attributed their low profile in the Constitution making process to the dominance by political parties.
“The Constitution making process was not people driven but a political project,” said Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Information and Advocacy Coordinator, Joy Mabenge.
Mabenge said the lack of will by politicians and absence of pressure from the nation towards alignment of the laws was clear evidence that the Constitution making process was never meant to be people driven.
The so call people participation in the process, Mabenge said, was mere cosmetic and window dressing.
Mabenge said most NGOs allowed to ‘participate’ in the Constitution making had to be aligned to some political party.
Director with Election Resource Centre, Tawanda Chimhini, told The Zimbabwen in an exclusive interview said the Constitution making process was carried out in a political framework and was never the initiative of CSOs.
“Politicians monopolised the process as they realised that CSOs would advocate for a people driven process, which would not serve their best interests,” Chimhini said.
Tribute was paid to MDC-T law makers, Innocent Gonese and Misheck Marava for pushing for alignment of the laws in the National Assembly and the Senate respectively.
The MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai expressed concern at delays by the executive to realign the laws.
In a senatorial debate, MDC Senator for Manicaland, Patrick Chitaka, called for an urgent harmonisation of relevant laws with the new Constitution.
Chitaka said: “Besides the over 100 laws in need of realignment, there are more new others that have to be brought aboard.”
Some of the laws that need harmonisation include those to do with freedoms of expression and the media, rights of women, Provincial and Metropolitan Councils, the National Prosecuting Authority, Citizenship Act, Public Order and Security Act, Defence Act, Police Act among others.