CCDZ pressures government to realign laws

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The Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) says it is concerned with lack of political will on the part of government to implement the new Constitution.

by SILENCE CHARUMBIRA

The organisation said government had an obligation to inform the public on progress or steps being taken to ensure expeditious harmonisation or alignment of the country’s laws to the Constitution.

Zimbabweans voted for a new Constitution during a referendum in March 2013.

“Among issues of concern is the failure by government to establish independent, democracy-enhancing institutions such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, Gender Commission, Land Commission and Provincial Councils as spelled out in chapters 12 and 14 of the Zimbabwean Constitution,” CCDZ said in a statement.

“The continued delay in the alignment of laws and establishment of the Provincial Councils is deliberate. The national institutions proposed in Chapter 12 of the Constitution should be established expeditiously to promote democracy.”

The group said the proposed independent commissions should be established according to international standards as prescribed by the Paris Principles of 1991.

Among the guidelines that should be followed were that the commissions should be established through an Act of Parliament, be given quasi-judicial powers, security of tenure, and be provided with adequate funding to allow the carrying-out of mandates and independence and insulation from Executive control.

“CCDZ strongly urges Parliament as the legislative branch of government to exercise its oversight role and ensure the expeditious harmonisation/alignment of laws. With respect to local government, we urge parliamentarians from across the political divide to prioritise the enactment of democratic local government laws in line with the new Constitution,” CCDZ said.

“We express strong reservations on the proposed Provincial and Metropolitan Councils Administration Bill. This Bill, in its current form, does not provide for democratic participation of all citizens in governance processes.”

CCDZ said the Bill did not have provisions that ensured equitable allocation of resources and participation of local communities in the determination of development priorities of their areas.

The statement also lamented that the proposed local government legislation still gave wide, discretionary powers to the Local Government minister.

“These powers can be exercised by the minister in person or through his/her appointees in the proposed Local Government Board.
The proposed local government legislation is not in any way different from the existing Rural District Councils Act and Urban Councils Act, save for changes in the wording and creation of additional institutions such as the Local Government Board and others that will still be appointed by the minister and will be answerable to him/her,” CCDZ said.

“In the interest of transparency, accountability and democracy, the harmonisation of laws should not be secretive and exclusive. It must be a participatory process in which the input of various stakeholders is taken into account.”