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made to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 17) Bill, 2005 (HB ,
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
August 04, 2005
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Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum is a coalition of Zimbabwean human-rights
organisations. It is particularly concerned with providing assistance
to victims of organised violence and torture, but its activities
extend to upholding all aspects of human rights as set out in the
international conventions to which Zimbabwe is a party.
Because it is
a human-rights organisation, the Forum will confine its comments
to those provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.
17) Bill which are likely to affect those rights. The political
and economic implications of the Bill, important though they are,
will not be dealt with in this document, therefore, except peripherally.
dealing with the individual provisions of the Bill, the Forum feels
it necessary to comment on the Billís memorandum. The purpose of
such a memorandum is to explain the various clauses of the Bill
in clear and objective terms so that Members of Parliament and the
public, after reading the memorandum, understand the effect of the
Bill and can assess its implications. With that understanding, interested
members of the public are able to lobby their Members of Parliament,
and Members of Parliament are sufficiently well informed to debate
the Bill adequately when it is presented in the House.
of this Bill is woefully inadequate. It dismisses clause 2 of the
Bill, which will allow land to be expropriated by notice in the
Gazette, with the words:
provision will confirm the acquisition of land for resettlement
purposes which took place pursuant to the Land Reform Programme
beginning in 2000, and provide for the acquisition in the future
of agricultural land for resettlement and other purposes."
In regard to
the composition of the new House of Assembly, it suggests that the
number of presidential appointees will be reduced from the current
12 to 10. In fact there will be no such reduction. The memorandum
goes on to say that clause 1 of the Bill sets out dates of commencement
of the Billís provisions. The clause does no such thing. In regard
to clause 3, which will seriously restrict freedom of movement,
the memorandum does not state what the restrictions will be but
simply gives a specious example of "the type of mischief that
may justify the imposition of [such] restrictions" (the reason
why the example is specious will be explained later). Clause 20
of the Bill, which will disenfranchise large numbers of people,
is not mentioned at all.
In short, the
memorandum is skimpy and inaccurate, if not downright misleading.
The Forum respectfully
urges the Portfolio Committee to make strong representations to
the responsible Ministry to ensure that such a memorandum is never
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