Back to Index, Back to Special Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Inclusive government - Index of articles
New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Zimbabwe Briefing - Issue 111
in Zimbabwe Coalition (SA Regional Office)
May 30, 2013
PDF version (1.57MB)
If you do not have the free Acrobat reader
on your computer, download it from the Adobe website by clicking
Constitution: What next after being signed into law?
for amending the Zimbabwe constitution is generally common to everyone
who has cared following the general legislative procedure of the
of Zimbabwe. So far we have had 19 Amendments to the current constitution.
The Bill introducing the final draft
to parliament was the 20th amendment, refered to as Constitution
of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Bill.
Just like the
solar eclipse, repealing a constitution in its entirety is generally
a once in a lifetime process, if ever a lifetime is enough. In some
countries generations pass without witnessing the writing of a new
constitution. In itself, a constitution is generally meant to live
for generations and generations but still resonate with the aspirations
and dictates of the time.
After the failed
Chidyausiku Constitutional Commission proposal of 2000, finally,
13 years on, Zimbabweans witnessed the adoption and enactment into
law of a new set of rules for the country. It might take a long
while before this process can be repeated again. It is a historical
moment we have been blessed to witness.
In the midst
of the historical milestone and the jubilation it brings, a few
issues came up. Most importantly, Zimbabweans themselves do not
have adequate information on the process of enacting a new constitution.
Particularly, very few know when and how the new constitution will
become law. For the benefit of the ordinary man, I make a brief
account of the constitutional process on how and when the new constitution
will come into effect.
We must recall
that the constitutional reform process was a creature Article VI
of the Global Political
Agreement. It is important to make it clear at this stage that
the GPA is part of the constitution through amendment number 19
and that the provisions of the GPA as enshrined in the current constitution
shall, during the subsistence of the Interparty Political Agreement,
prevail notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the current
Constitution. However for the purpose of this exposition, it is
much easier to refer to the GPA as if it’s not in the constitution
and the current constitution as if it does not include the GPA.
for the new constitution is laid down in the GPA. However where
the GPA does not make provision for a matter incidental to the constitutional
process, the current constitution and the relevant legislation such
as the Referendums Act, applies. Although the GPA lays down some
other processes such as the outreach program and the stakeholders’
conferences that you will not find in any of our laws, most of its
provisions on the constitution including time frames slavishly follow
the current law.
It is also important
to mention that the constitution process as outlined in the GPA
ends with the introduction of the new constitution to parliament
after the Referendum. Whatever happens after that follows the legislative
procedure in the current constitution.
process followed in the constitution making process is provided
by law, it is of utmost importance to note that politics had a very
bigger role to play. It is in fact the political factor, which shrouds
the legal process to an extent that an ordinary person on the street
finds it difficult to get a good grasp of the true process and the
time frames. Interestingly, a majority of the parliamentarians had
no clue not only about the process but even the nature of their
role in the legislative process. The provisions on the coming into
force of the new constitution are in the new constitution itself.
Although the new constitution is deemed to become law on the day
it is published, that is also not accurate in this case. The constitution
will come into force in effectively three stages. There are provisions
that come into force on the publication day, those that come into
force on the effective date and transitional provisions suspended
for a certain period.
Chapter 3 relating
to citizenship; Chapter 4 being the declaration of rights; Chapter
5 relating to the election and assumption of office of the President;
Chapter 6 relating to the election of Members of parliament and
the summoning of parliament of the general election; Chapter 7 relating
to elections; Chapter 9 relating to principles of public administration
and leadership; Section 208 relating to the conduct of members of
the security services; Chapter 12 in so far as it relates to the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission; and Chapter 14 relating to provincial
and local government come into operation on the publication day.
This is the first phase and by Law came into effect on 22 May 2013
when the President ascended to the draft supreme law. The coming
into operation of these sections will effectively repeal the equivalent
sections of the current constitution. After the publication day
we will thus be having two constitutions albeit for different sections.
The parts of the current constitution that are not repealed on the
publication day will remain in force. The rest of the new constitution
comes into force on the effective date except for certain provisions.
The effective date is the date on which the president elected in
the coming first elections under the new constitution assumes office.
The current constitution will stand repealed in its entirety on
the effective day.
The third phase
involves provisions that are deferred for certain periods after
the effective date. These are not many. Provisions such as those
relating to running mates and the composition of the constitutional
court only come into effect ten years after the first election and
seven years after the effective date, respectively.
Perhaps it is
important to conclude by saying; the new constitution will begin
to take effect in the next two weeks - all things being equal. Elections,
which are everyone’s concern, will be held under the new constitution.
Although the effective date is only the day when the winning president
takes office, the sections of the constitution necessary for the
holding of elections come into force on the publication day which
can be anytime from the day when the new constitution is signed
by the President, approximately in the next few days.
Visit the Crisis
in Zimbabwe fact
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.