Parliament Approves African Charter on Democracy – Bill Watch 17 / 2019

Source: 28 March 2019Democracy, Human Rights, Legislation

Both Houses of Parliament Have Approved the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance

On 27th March 2019, the Senate passed a resolution approving the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in terms of section 327 of the Constitution. This followed last week’s National Assembly’s approval of an identical resolution on 19th March.

This approval by Parliament clears the way for the Government to complete the process of Zimbabwe’s becoming bound by the Charter under international law.

This process began with President Mnangagwa’s signing of the Charter at an AU Summit on 21st March last year. The Charter was due to be approved by the last Parliament. Unfortunately, however, this was prevented by the early cessation of Parliamentary sittings in June, ahead of the 30th July harmonised elections. Veritas lobbied the Speaker and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in order to ensure that the constitutional requirement of Parliamentary approval of the Charter would not be overlooked when the new Parliament had the opportunity to do so; see Bill Watch 13/2019 of 12th March.

Remaining Steps before Zimbabwe Becomes a State Party to the Charter

As the Charter itself informs us, in order to become a State Party to and bound by the Charter, Zimbabwe must now follow up the Parliamentary approval of the Charter by formally ratifying the Charter and depositing the instrument of ratification with the Chairperson of the African Union [see the Charter, Article 47 and the definition of “State Party” in Article 1].

The Instrument of Ratification will be prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. It will then be signed by the President. Finally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will be responsible for the depositing of the Instrument of Ratification, signed by the President, with the AU in Addis Ababa.

Zimbabwe will become a State Party to the Charter – and bound by international law, and our own Constitution, to implement its provisions – immediately the Instrument of Ratification is so deposited.

Veritas’ Election Watch 11/2018 of 15th May 2018 analysed the Charter and the implications of Zimbabwe’s becoming a State Party.