Dysfunctional Zimbabwe

via Dysfunctional Zimbabwe – ANGUS SHAW October 12, 2015

If it’s at all possible, forget about the debilitating  18-hour electricity  cuts for a moment. The agonising and costly writing of a new Zimbabwe constitution, accepted overwhelmingly in a 2013 referendum, seems to have been yet another waste of time and money; much of the reformed constitution still has to be adopted into hard and fast law.

The General Laws Amendment Bill seeks to amend 126 Acts of parliament to bring them into line with the constitution but most of the adjustments are woefully inadequate in meeting the new requirements, law experts say.

Three years of drafting and haggling and $40 million later, the constitution was ready in time for the last elections in 2013. At its very core lay improvements to election laws and scores of others guaranteeing democratic rights, basic human rights, freedom of expression and, not least, laws affecting the powers of the executive and the state security apparatus.

Proposed amendments to the crucial Electoral Act now before the Zimbabwe parliament are “inadequate and incomplete,” reports the admirable group Veritas, an independent  local think tank on legal matters.

On the existing media laws, Veritas says it is doubtful that they can ever be aligned with the constitution. “What is certain is that the General Laws Amendment Bill does not even try to do so,” says the group. Ideally, laws that make “abuse of freedom of expression a criminal offence” should be repealed and completely redrafted to comply with the new constitution.

Amendments proposed in the Defence Act mean it will “remain unconstitutional in several important respects,” says Veritas.

The list of flaws in the General Laws Amendment Bill is legion. Since those disputed elections in 2013, no-one in Mr Mugabe’s ruling party, it appears, can either be bothered or find the will to adhere to the nation’s supreme law.

It will be up to the aggrieved to challenge these violations in the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land. But will the authorities obey rulings of the ConCourt, as it is known?

The ConCourt has just struck down a section in criminal law that allowed prosecutors and police to ignore freedom on bail granted by a court. It has yet to be put to the test. The Constitutional Court has ruled it is no longer an offence to make disparaging remarks in public about Mr Mugabe.

But that went to the wall again the other day when a man was arrested for discussing with friends in a bar the senior moment when 91-year-old Mr Mugabe read the wrong speech in the Harare parliament, one he had delivered there three weeks earlier, an embarrassing episode that had been on everyone’s lips.


  • comment-avatar
    Derek 7 years ago

    Matters are even worse than Veritas and Shaw indicate….government is treating the need to draft new legislation as an opportunity to introduce provisions which are even more repressive than they were before the advent of the new constitution – a case in point the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Bill seeks to remove the right to private prosecutions…thus protecting ZPF bigwigs from the consequences of their deeds…even the Smith government allowed the right to private prosecutions. Furthermore, all the legislation introduced under the guise of alignment to date, seeks to claw back executive power where it has been attenuated by the new constitution. This is in itself a violation of the Constitution which requires that executive powers be narrowly construed and rights expansively construed. Besides that, many of the provisions of “aligning ” legislation in fact move the law further away from the requirements of the constitution rather than closer towards it.

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    Zimbabwe, a nation that committed suicide!

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    Mugarbage 7 years ago

    Tough decision or what little decency remains, pack your bags and start somewhere else.
    Black rot has taken hold of Zimboonwe, it will only get worse.