Zimbabwe govt to expedite reforms as Parly resumes sitting

Justice, Legal and parliamentary Affairs Minister Mr Ziyambi Ziyambi

Government will prioritise the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the enactment of its successor legislation designed to deepen civil liberties and democracy when Parliament resumes sitting on Tuesday this week.

Already, the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently described as one of the “symbols of the old Zimbabwe”, has been repealed and replaced by the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA), which was signed into law in November last year.

AIPPA, however, will be replaced by three pieces of legislation — the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill, Freedom of Information Bill and Data/Information Protection Bill.

The legal instruments were gazetted in August last year and have since undergone public hearings.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the extensive public hearings that have been conducted set the stage for the repeal of AIPPA.

“We have already repealed POSA. When we meet next week (this week) in Parliament, we will work on the Freedom of Information Bill. We will work on repealing AIPPA,” he said.

“We have had extensive consultations on the Freedom of Information Bill, Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill and Data Protection Bill, which will be used to repeal AIPPA. So one of our major focus as soon as we resume (Parliament) is the media law reforms.”

A draft law of the new Electoral Act, he said, was expected to be in place by June.

The envisaged electoral amendments involve recalibrating the legislative framework, election administration systems, voter registration rules, drawing up of constituency boundaries and political party finance and registration.

Parliament will also speed up amendments to the supreme law in order to fully operationalise devolution by setting up provincial and metropolitan councils.

“We will also be working on our Constitutional Amendment Bill where we will look at the issues to do with delimitation and devolution,” Minister Ziyambi said.

“We are also going to have a stakeholders meeting on the Electoral Act and the identified amendments so that by June we will have something to present to Parliament.

“By 2021 we should have a new Electoral Act so that by 2023 it will be in place.”

Government also plans to establish an independent body that will review and investigate complaints against the State security arms in line with Section 210 of the Constitution.

Consultations between the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Office are already underway.

In essence, Section 210 of the Constitution provides for an Act of Parliament to “provide an effective and independent mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the security services, and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct”.

Minister Ziyambi believes most of the reforms will be implemented by year-end.

President Mnangagwa last week assured the international community that Government would accelerate the implementation of the reform agenda this year.

He, however, said there was need for patience as the reforms were dependent on all arms of the State, which sometimes slowed down the pace of implementation.

Mnangagwa said Government’s desire was for economic and political reforms to be implemented simultaneously.