By Miriam Mangwaya
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured) of abusing authority vested in him under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to stifle citizens’ freedoms.
In its 2019 state of human rights report released yesterday, the human rights lobby group noted that Mnangagwa enacted three statutory instruments without clear justification.
The civic society organisation stated that in February 2019, Mnangagwa invoked his presidential powers to enact Statutory Instrument 33 of 2019, a subsidiary law that essentially converted depositors’ RTGS bank balances into a currency and made them legal tender for purposes of exchange in Zimbabwe.
He later enacted two other statutory instruments, which outlawed the use of foreign currency for the settlement of domestic debts.
“In all these instances, there seemed to be no clear rationale why these issues were not dealt with in the ordinary way through the legislation-making process in Parliament as provided for in the Constitution,” the report said.
“The President’s sweeping powers to enact regulations on issues that can ordinarily be legislated by an Act of Parliament represents an affront on the principle of separation of powers.”
The President has powers to make regulations in relationship to urgent matters as stipulated in the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, Chapter 10:20, but those powers can only be used in exceptional circumstances given that they overtake the law-making function ordinarily vested with Parliament.
Mnangagwa, now in his third year of leadership, has been under international scrutiny for deploying security forces to unleash terror on civilians and suppress dissent.
Under his rule, continued crackdown on protesters and activists has left 22 people dead while thousands were subjected to torture, harassment and abduction by security officers.
Human rights abuses have been worsened by Parliament and the Judiciary’s failure to provide checks and balances and to hold the Executive arm of government accountable, the rights group noted.
It also implored Mnangagwa’s government to create democratic space conducive for political parties’ dialogue and nation building.
“Frank dialogue between the main political parties should include addressing issues such as violence perpetrated by the police and the military on unarmed citizens,” the watchdog said.
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