Five years after adoption of the Constitution, fully implement and harmonise!

ON the occasion of the 5th Anniversary of coming into force of the Zimbabwe Constitution, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls on the government to implement all provisions of the Constitution and harmonise all laws, policies and administrative practices with the Constitution.

The 2013 Constitution was overwhelmingly accepted by the majority of people in Zimbabwe who voted for its adoption during the referendum.

Though not a perfect document, the provisions of the Constitution present an opportunity for the creation of a foundation to incrementally nurture a democracy in Zimbabwe.

ZLHR recognises the limited progress that has been made in implementing some provisions of the Constitution, however, given the general lack of a culture of constitutionalism, and the continued violation of key constitutional provisions, the government and the people living in Zimbabwe, are called upon to play their role in ensuring that provisions of the Constitution are fully implemented, particularly on (not exhaustive):

Separation of Powers, as entrenched in the Constitution, ZLHR is concerned at the disregard of this principle by the overpowering Executive:

  • ZLHR reminds the Executive of the need to co-exist, within the confines of the Constitution with the other arms of government – the judiciary and legislature, cognisant of their role and the ancillary checks and balances;
  • ZLHR encourages all the three arms of government to, without further delay institute necessary reforms, for them to be constitutionally compliant, more efficient and effective in discharging their mandates;
  • The Executive is called upon to ensure all its departments such as, but not limited to the military and the police act within the confines of the Constitution.

On the Bill of Rights, which is binding on state actors and non-state actors, it must be understood that the Constitution is the supreme law and the moment that it came into effect, the rights, freedoms and responsibilities contained in it became valid and enforceable:

  • ZLHR calls for respect, promotion and protection of all social, economic, civil and political rights enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution;
  • All people are encouraged to be tolerant of diverging views and opinions, enjoy individual or collective rights with due regard to the rights of other people, and the limitations of such rights;
  • The judiciary and other justice sector players (such as the police, the prosecution authorities, and lawyers) are called upon to act independently and impartially when discharging their duties of protecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens without fear or favour;
  • The judiciary is called upon to expeditiously determine human rights cases and provide effective remedies;
  • Government is called upon to fulfill its obligation of educating all people in Zimbabwe on the human rights provisions of the Constitution;
  • Government is called upon to foster a culture of human rights within all the government departments through introducing necessary reform measures;
  • Government is called upon to align all outstanding laws that negatively impact on human rights with the Constitution and implement all self-executing provisions of the Constitution.

Independent Commissions Supporting Democracy, as provided in Chapter 12:

  • Must discharge their mandate without fear or favour, promote constitutionalism, promote transparency and accountability, remedy injustices, and must entrench human rights and democracy;
  • Government is called upon to take necessary measures to ensure that all independent commissions are fully operational by providing adequate financial and human resources for these commissions to effectively and efficiently discharge their mandates;
  • Given the pending elections, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is also reminded of its obligations to ensure that elections are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently (as provided in section 239(a)(iv) of the Constitution) and that appropriate systems and mechanisms must be in place to eliminate electoral violence and other malpractices (as provided in section 156 (c)(i) of the Constitution).

On the rest of the Constitution’s provisions, ZLHR calls on government to implement and harmonise!

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights