Mwonzora wades into constitutional debate

via Mwonzora wades into constitutional debate | SW Radio Africa by Tichaona Sibanda  November 28, 2013

Former COPAC co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora has described the debate on aligning existing laws with the new supreme law as a waste of time.

The MDC-T spokesman, who played a leading role in the drafting of the constitution, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that the new charter is clear that any laws that are contrary to it are null and void.

Mwonzora was reacting to comments made by his former counterpart, Paul Mangwana, the co-chairman who represented ZANU PF who said they overlooked setting time limits on alignment of laws with the new constitution.

‘The moment the constitution was signed into law, that very minute all laws that were inconsistent with it fell away. There was no need for us to give a timeline to align new laws to the constitution because the alignment was automatic,’ Mwonzora said.

The former Nyanga north MP added; ‘I wish people could avail themselves time to go through the constitution. It is there in black and white in section three of the charter that any other law in the country that contradicts any provision of the new constitution, that other law will be null and void.’

Mwonzora, a lawyer by profession, explained that government ministries and departments which are administering old laws that are inconsistent with the constitution are administering illegalities and in most cases are operating illegally.

‘There was no need to put timelines for amendment of laws inconsistent with the constitution, because those laws fell away automatically the minute the constitution came into operation.

‘Our constitution is not as vague as some new critics say. To the contrary it is very clear. Zimbabweans however ought to appreciate that the coming into effect of a good constitution does not guarantee good constitutional practice by the state and its agents.

‘In Zimbabwe we have a typical situation where a good constitution is in bad hands. As long as we have an irresponsible and illegitimate government, our people will not fully enjoy the benefits of this constitution,’ Mwonzora added.

As an example he said the National Prosecuting Authority cannot charge anyone under the old POSA or AIPPA laws because they are not in sync with the new constitution.

‘For the avoidance of doubt, people should visit Chapter 4 of the constitution (Declaration of Rights) and read part 2, the section on fundamentals of human rights and freedoms and see if they can find POSA or AIPPA. Let’s not be swayed with what this regime has not done, but focus on laws that are prescribed in the constitution,’ Mwonzora said.