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‘Practise what is law’ — lawyer


A constitutional law expert yesterday blasted Zimbabwean authorities for crafting laws that they never adhere to.
Greg Linnington, a constitutional law writer and political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said even if Copac were to come up with very good content in the new constitutional draft, as long as politicians chose not to follow the rules enshrined in it, the whole efforts of making a new constitution would be useless.
“As a country, we need to develop a culture of constitutionalism so that people respect the constitution,” said Linington. “The whole process of developing a culture of constitutionalism is where people practise what is in their constitution.”
Linington said Zimbabwe had several instances where the legislation enshrined in the constitution were ignored for political expediency.
“We were supposed to have a set number of Cabinet ministers and there was actually a ceiling to that number. However, that issue was ignored and now the number of ministers has increased,” Linington said.
He said the text of the constitution was supposed to be respected, otherwise all the money and time being put into the whole exercise of constitution-making would go to waste if people were to continue breaking the laws that they craft.
“In Zimbabwe, court orders have also not been complied with and all these things are indicative of the lack of respect for the constitution. “Members of Zanu PF have particularly ignored what is in the constitution,” he said.
Linnington said although there was talk that the country was trying to do away with the Lancaster House Constitution, there was very little left of that constitution because it had been amended 19 times and 90% of the Lancaster House Constitution was now text that had come about through various amendments. “There have been a lot of changes to the Constitution since independence but a document like that should be designed to stay for a long time and should be difficult to change,” Linnington said. He said any good constitution should be text that would be only changed once in a very long while when it becomes really necessary to do so.

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