THE House of Assembly resumed sitting yesterday with Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa bringing the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill and the Electoral Amendment Bills for debate.
The debate was delayed by disagreements among parties in the inclusive Government.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill sailed through the committee stage with minor amendments that were proposed by the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Presenting the report, Mutare Central representative Innocent Gonese, said they recommended that the minister remove a provision in the Bill requiring domestification of international treaties that Zimbabwe is signatory to before the ZHRC has jurisdiction over them.
Minister Chinamasa consented to the proposals, but rejected suggestions by some legislators especially from the MDC formation for the removal of specifications on the time the ZHRC can start investigations of human rights abuses. The ZHRC, which was sworn in 2009, will investigate cases that occurred as from February 13 of that year.
Mbizo representative Settlement Chikwinya, said the removal of the clause would allow anyone who felt their rights might have been violated to seek redress.
Zanu PF representative rejected the proposals saying they were not feasible and would worst the country's meagre resources.
"The commission should have specifics because if we leave it uncapped it could go back to as early as 1890, which would worst the State's resources and undermine the work of the commission we are trying to build. We should not use emotions when crafting laws," Redcliff representative Cde Isheunesu Muza said.
Minister Chinamasa said it was common practice in observing the rule of law that laws should not be applied in retrospect.
"It is a cardinal principle of the rule of law and good governance that laws should not be applied in retrospect," he said.
He said the date in the Bill was in itself a compromise and said continued debate on the issue would prevent the ZHRC from effectively commencing its work. The Bill is supposed to create the ZHRC secretariat and how it carries out its day to day activities. On the Electoral Amendment Bill there was also heated debate from parliamentarians on the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act with the MDC formations suggesting further changes to those proposed by the minister.
The Parliamentary Legal Committee withdrew its adverse report on the Bill after agreeing with the minister that the proposed Polling Station Voters' Roll be deferred to subsequent elections that would be held after the impending harmonised elections.