The Disappearing Role of Parliament Under COVID-19

The Election Resource Centre (ERC) takes note of the National Address by President E.D. Mnangagwa on 21 July 2020 in which the President announced a raft of new measures aimed at protecting the citizens and assisting the Government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 2020 when the first Statutory Instrument was published in the Gazette, the Government has taken extraordinary steps to tackle COVID-19 in the country. As the number of cases in Zimbabwe increase, the lockdown measures have tightened. It is now vital that checks and balances on the executive power making these lockdown regulations increase with the same verbosity. 

The worrying sign is that the pandemic has increased authoritarianism, weakened rule of law and diminished the Parliamentary role to provide constitutional oversight. The series of Statutory Instruments and pseudo-executive orders has made the Executive the ultimate authority in the country, wiping out what remained of Parliamentary control in Zimbabwe.

The absence of effective checks being exercised by Parliament on the implementation of SI’s and executive powers, has become a major threat to the principles of accountability, democracy and the separation of powers in Zimbabwe. The Executive finds itself in the precarious position of having taken over the core legislative function reserved for Parliament which undermines the constitutional authority of the Executive.

Parliament is one of the key state institutions in a democratic system of governance and has a critical role to play in promoting democracy and good governance. Parliament must ensure that constitutionalism and rule of law prevails. 

The role of Parliament is to legislate, to scrutinize the policies and activities of the Executive and to hold the Executive to account for its actions. Therefore, the ERC calls on Parliament to exercise oversight and ensure a return to constitutionalism in the handling of the COVID-19 lockdown measures.

Source: Election Resource Centre (ERC)

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