Zimbabwe: Crafting of Bills Open to All Citizens - Speaker

22 September 2020

ZIMBABWEANS, including universities and academics, should actively participate in the country's legislative processes and help refine Bills brought before Parliament or initiate the review of existing laws through enabling provisions of the Constitution.

Parliament, on its part, should energise the public to take part in the law reform process to avoid a situation where only a few people participate.

Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda told a capacity building workshop for parliamentarians on the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance hosted by ActionAid in Kariba last week that the legislative process needed everyone's input.

The Government would not hesitate to amend or repeal any sections of the law that the people may not agree with, on the strength of numbers.

Adv Mudenda was critical of the lack of participation by universities and the academia, saying they should step up and help critique Bills brought before Parliament.

"This is one of my disappointments," he said.

"We have to get some critique from our universities. I have talked to them; I think the only remaining are the UZ and Chinhoyi. You see Bills coming through, but there are no comments coming through from the academia.

"Let us have our universities contributing to thorough analysis of our pieces of legislation and to some extent even volunteer to come to Parliament and engage the particular portfolio committee because they have benefited from the education. They can make a difference."

Investigations have shown that there was limited participation of the public in the country's legislative process and there is need to "ginger up" the public through parliamentarians to ensure that people take responsibility of the process and outcomes.

"What we have noticed is that the public needs to be gingered to ensure that the law making process is part of their responsibility," he said.

"It should not be left to a few. It is the role of Parliament to ginger up the electorate to make their comments and contributions."

ActionAid country director Mr Joy Mabenge said the drive to ratify and domesticate the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance was a continent-wide project aimed at making the charter a benchmark for African countries.

Understanding of the charter by Parliamentarians is expected to help in expediting its ratification and domestication.

"We do hope that it is a step forward in terms of promoting what we strongly believe in as ActionAid, that for there to be social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication, these cannot be divorced from some of the key processes defined in instruments such as the charter," he said.

Mr Mabenge expressed confidence that the charter would have been ratified by Zimbabwe and brought into its domestic law by the time the country goes for elections in 2023.

He noted that assimilation of the ethos of the charter was a process and the step of signing, ratification and domestication was a sign that Zimbabwe was embracing shared values of the continent.

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