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New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
What is currently happening to Zimbabwe's new constitution
Rights NGO Forum
explains, step by step, the current position and future steps with
regard to Zimbabwe’s new Constitution. It is a sequel to our
27 March issue titled What
will happen after the Referendum? This bulletin also comes in
the wake of the current wrangling between Zanu PF and MDC political
parties on whether the President is required to consult with the
Prime Minister in fixing an election date. ZANU PF’s position
is set out in an article which can be accessed here. Although we
do not have the MDC’s official position, pro-MDC lawyers on
social blogs are insisting that the President is required to consult
with the Prime Minister, and in so asserting, are relying on article
20.1.1 of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) which states that, ‘The Executive
Authority of the Inclusive
Government shall vest in, and be shared among the President,
the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, as provided for in this Constitution
and legislation’. They are also relying on constitutional
amendment number 19, which incorporated the GPA into Zimbabwe’s
is happening to the constitution?
We now turn
to explain the current position regarding the new constitution and
in doing so, exclusively rely on material supplied by our partner
organisation Veritas Trust Zimbabwe, which we have edited to fit
into our email template.
of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Bill was gazetted in a Government
Gazette Extraordinary dated 29th March. The gazetting followed the
vote in the Referendum held on 16th March. The Referendum result
was publicly announced by the Chief Elections Officer on 19th March
at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission National Command Centre in
Harare, and formally notified by the Minister of Constitutional
and Parliamentary Affairs by General
In accordance with section 52 of the current Constitution,
a constitutional Bill has to be “published in the Gazette
not less than thirty days” before its introduction in Parliament.
The gazetting on 29th March means that the Bill can be introduced
at any time from Tuesday 30th April onwards. Minister of Constitutional
and Parliamentary Affairs, Eric Matinenga will introduce the Bill
as soon as Parliament resumes. The Bill will be introduced in the
House of Assembly first, and once it is passed by that House will
be transmitted to the Senate. In each House it must be approved
by at least two-thirds of the total membership – the special
majority required to pass a constitutional Bill.
scheduled to resume on Tuesday 7th May but technically it could
be recalled on Tuesday 30th April. Once the Bill is passed, some
pieces of legislation such as the Electoral Act must be amended
to bring it into line with the new Constitution.
Bill does not go to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for scrutiny
as it is unnecessary to test a Bill for consistency with the present
Constitution when its whole point is to change or repeal the current
Constitution. So the Bill will not be subject to the mandatory delay
between First and Second Readings that applies to other Bills. And,
as the new Constitution is the product of a Parliamentary Select
Committee [COPAC], and has been approved by the voters at the Referendum,
there is no need for a report from the Portfolio Committee on Justice,
Legal Affairs, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs.
by both Houses of Parliament,
the Bill will go to the President for his assent, which will be
indicated by his signature. Then it will be gazetted as an Act.
In accordance with the Sixth Schedule to the new Constitution, some
parts of the new Constitution will come into force immediately,
on publication day – particularly those parts dealing with
elections, so that the next elections will result in a the election
of a new President, National Assembly and Senate, provincial and
metropolitan councils and local authorities, as laid down in the
into force immediately will be the Declaration of Rights and the
provisions about the Constitutional Court. The corresponding parts
of the present much-amended Lancaster House constitution will give
way to these new provisions. The rest of the new Constitution will
only come into force when the person elected as President in the
coming elections is sworn in. At this point the present Constitution
will fall away completely. In the interim or transitional period,
the present Constitution will continue in partial force.
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