Parly lays groundwork for free 2023 polls

Jacob Mudenda
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Parliament is seized with the alignment of laws to the Constitution to ensure 2023 harmonised elections are free, fair, transparent, credible and reflect the true democratic will of the people of Zimbabwe.

This came out during a presentation by Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Mudenda at the Zimbabwe National Defence University, reflecting massive civil and political reforms being undertaken under President Mnangagwa’s Second Republic.

He was presenting a paper on Parliament’s oversight role and contribution to national security and political systems in Zimbabwe.

Adv Mudenda said to strengthen national security, Parliament’s oversight role must focus on national food security, health, socio-economic security, environmental security and human security which are all predicated on the respect and religious observance of human rights and freedoms.

He said Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy founded on principles of political pluralism and diversity as opposed to political monism.

“Party pluralism has been a defining feature of our democracy since independence in 1980. That is why section 3(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe emphatically states that: “The principles of good governance, which bind the State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level include a multi-party democratic political system, an electoral system based on universal adult suffrage and equality of votes, free, fair and regular elections and adequate representation of the electorate.

“Flowing from the above constitutional provisions and pursuant to the need to enhance and expand the democratic dispensation in Zimbabwe, Parliament is currently seized with the alignment of laws to the Constitution, the Ease of Doing Business Laws and the Electoral Law reforms.

“These are meant to ensure the 2023 harmonised elections are free, fair, transparent and credible to the extent that they reflect the true democratic will of the people of Zimbabwe apart from creating a positive environment to attract both domestic and foreign investors,” he said.

Advocate Mudenda said political party pluralism had seen more than 100 parties and 22 Presidential candidates participating in the previous 2018 harmonised elections which augured well with section 67 of the Constitution which acknowledges the political rights of citizens.

“Every Zimbabwean citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections for any elective public office established in terms of this Constitution. Every Zimbabwean has the right to form, join and to participate in activities of a political party or organisation of their choice, to campaign freely and peacefully for a political party or cause, to participate individually or collectively in gatherings or groups or in any other manner, in peaceful activities to influence, change or support the policies of Government or any political or whatever cause,” he said.

He said the use of violence, overt or covert was not constitutional.

“This explains why all constitutional State commissions inkling, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, national peace and Reconciliation Commission among others are accountable to Parliament as prescribed in section 235(1) of the Constitution,” he said.

Advocate Mudenda said Parliament had the role of being the ultimate protector of the constitution and this was evident in November 2017.

“Political events in Zimbabwe during November 2017 brought to the fore the centrality of Parliament as the penultimate institution in protecting the constitutional order and the democratic dispensation.

“Without the stewardship of Parliament, there was no way the political conundrum at that time could have been speedily resolved constitutionally and lawfully,” he said.

He said there was need for the constitution to be taught in schools and as part of the curriculum for the training of members of the security services, the civil service and members and employees of public institutions and encouraged all people and organisations to disseminate knowledge of the Constitution throughout the society.

Recently, the European Union acknowledged that there were some positive steps towards the attainment of political and economic reforms by Zimbabwe.

EU head of delegation Ambassador Timo Olkkonen said the recent announcement of the Staff Monitored Programme (SMP), alignment of the Constitution and commitment to replace the Public Order and Security Act were some of the positive steps so far.