Home » Judicial » Synchronisation of 400 Laws Begins

Government has started aligning 400 laws with the new Constitution, prioritising the Electoral Act, the National Prosecuting Authority Act and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Deputy Minister Fortune Chasi said in an interview that aligning the laws was a long-term process.

“We are committed, contrary to what other people have been saying, and we have no choice in the matter, to synchronise all the laws with the Constitution,” he said.

“It is the supreme law of the country. By way of procedure, we have identified certain laws that are particularly urgent and sensitive to the Constitution.

“I always give an example of the Bees Act compared to the National Prosecuting Authority Act, we have to start with the NPA Act. We have worked on that and the NPA Act is already in Parliament.

“The pressing one is the Electoral Act because as we speak, if a need for a by-election arises, we do not have the framework because the Presidential Powers expired.

“We are also prioritising the NPA Act and the the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as they are also quite involving. The rest will be dealt with as we go on.”

Deputy Minister Chasi said the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act needed to be adjusted to improve the rights of suspects in holding cells.

He said the NPA Act was a new law that had to be crafted from scratch.

The Electoral Bill seeks to ensure that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission — being the entity responsible for elections — will be an independent body responsible for voter registration and other key functions.

Deputy Minister Chasi said it was difficult for Government to give a timeframe for complete alignment of all laws considering that different people and departments were involved and “certain behaviours of people involved were beyond the ministry’s control”.

“It is difficult to give you the definite timeframe because once the principles are developed, they go to Cabinet and they are approved,” he said. “Once it is in Parliament, we cannot have control over it. Some may walk out in the middle of discussions.”

Deputy Minister Chasi said some of the laws did not need to be amended substantively and would just need editing or amending of terminology to suite the new Constitution.

For example, the new Constitution moved prosecution duties from the Attorney-General’s Office to the National Prosecution Authority headed by the Prosecutor-General.

This means that all Acts which mention the AG’s Office as having those duties would be amended to reflect the new roles.

Other laws that need to be urgently looked into include criminal defamation laws which restrict the freedom of the Press and are ultra-vires the new Constitution which guarantees media freedom.

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has indicated that the criminal defamation laws should be amended as a matter of urgency.

Source : The Herald