Parliament Second Session

During the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament, which opens on Tuesday, Government intends to fast-track the enactment of legislation that underpins political and economic reforms, including introducing some Constitutional amendments to entrench democracy and personal freedoms.

The new legislation that will be tabled before the august House is informed by recommendations from the Inter-Minister Taskforce that was set up by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in March.

The President will spell out his legislative agenda when he opens Parliament this week.

According to a schedule of proposed legislative work gleaned by The Sunday Mail, the Constitution is expected to be amended in order to entrench devolution.

There are proposals to extend the women’s quota in Parliament beyond 2023, and scrapping the running mate clause for Presidential elections, which was set to kick in during the next elections.

A law to de-link the national census from the delimitation exercise, which involves drawing up electoral boundaries, will also be considered.

Further, a new Electoral Act will be tabled for debate in Parliament, while Government will set up an independent mechanism to handle complaints of misconduct by members of the security services in line with Section 210 of the Constitution.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said legislation that supports political and economic reforms will dominate the Executive’s legislative agenda.

“For the forthcoming session, we presented (to Cabinet) our matrix on all the legislative reforms we want to do and some rough timelines,” said Minister Ziyambi.

“The forthcoming year will be very busy; we will be considering our electoral laws for reform.

“By 2020 we should have come up with a new Electoral Act that speaks to issues raised by observers and those that will come up from the consultations that we will do.

“We have given ourselves up to June 2020 to identify provisions in the Electoral Act that may require amendment and we should have the Bill passed by Parliament by 2020.”

Minister Ziyambi said tweaking the supreme law will be done through an omnibus Constitution Amendment Bill.

“We are also preparing a Constitutional Amendment Bill. We need to take care of the devolution aspect.

“We need to amend the Constitution to remove Members of Parliament from being members of Provincial Councils.”

He said delimitation will be delinked from the national census in order to prevent a potential administrative disaster that might result from conducting the two processes on the eve of the 2023 elections.

The Constitution obliges the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to draw up new electoral boundaries every ten years, immediately after a national population census, which is due in 2022.

There are fears that the elections management body will not have adequate time to carry out delimitation ahead of the polls.

Minister Ziyambi said: “We also are going to amend the Constitution in order to delink the census from delimitation and we realise that in the Constitution, census is linked to delimitation, yet delimitation is on the basis of registered voters.

“We are also amending the Constitution to continue with the women’s quota.

“Another amendment has to do with removing the running mate clause.”

Deepening freedoms

Laws that seek to deepen personal freedoms, as envisioned by the Second Republic’s reform agenda, will also be tabled.

“We also have other bills that are part of the matrix, including the Freedom of Information Bill, the Data Protection Bill and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill — those that have to do with freedoms that people enjoy in a democratic society.

“We are introducing them to give people more freedoms in line with the recommendations that came up from the Inter-Ministerial Committee and the (election) observer reports,” he said.

Source – BBC