JUSTICE minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who served as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s chief elections agent in the July 30 poll, last week met with NewsDay reporter Blessed Mhlanga for an interview where he gave a rundown of the 9th Parliament’s legislative agenda following the swearing-in of legislators.
INTERVIEW: Blessed Mhlanga
Below are the excerpts of the interview.
ND: Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on your re-appointment as Justice minister. We know that Parliament has just opened and there are a number of laws that are at tangent with the Constitution, what will you be doing to realign these laws?
ZZ: In terms of realigning laws, what we have been doing and will continue to do is allow the Attorney-General’s Office to identify all the laws that need to be aligned and we have a dashboard where they need to follow up the laws that need alignment . Basically, what we need to do is look into the outstanding laws that need alignment, such as the Marriages Act, Public Order and Security Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Citizenship Act. I think we need to clean them up and make sure that they are aligned to the Constitution, so that is one of the tasks that we should complete within the life span of this Parliament.
ND: Government recently received post-election reports from various observer groups and most of them pointed to a number of gaps which they said existed in the Electoral Act, are you looking into these?
ZZ: I am yet to receive the reports from the observers. I think the law requires that once they finish their reports, they have to submit them to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and then Zec will do the final compilation of that final volume of observer reports, which will then be published and then we will be able then to look at their recommendations and areas that we can focus on with the view of improving our electoral law.
ND: One of the issues cited is that you always leave electoral reforms until it’s a little too late; is this deliberate on the party of Zanu PF to retain power? A case in point is where electoral amendments were done just in time for the announcement of polling day, are we going to see a change?
ZZ: I do not believe that is correct. We have a Parliament where all legislators in the House can push through a Bill and ensure that whatever amendments they want done are done. You recall that in this last Parliament, we had several amendments to our electoral laws and the one that we had at the last minute basically was to give effect to the provisions that allowed Biometric Voter Registration (BVR). What we then did in November was we opened it up and invited all other players to input into the Bill. We got several submissions and we took a lot of them and included them in the Electoral Amendment Act that we finally used in the last elections. So, it’s not very correct to say we left it until very late. What we had was a Bill that was seeking to give effect to provisions to the BVR, but we then took advantage of the fact that we could bring in other amendments at the committee stage and we opened it up and brought in other provisions from outside the original Bill.
ND: You were a major player as chief elections agent for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, did you have any challenges fulfilling this role?
ZZ: It was a high pressure job. Mind you, I had to campaign in my own constituency, represent the President at a time I was also the Minister of Justice. So I had to juggle between the three — rush to campaign in my constituency and remember, I was also the (Zanu PF provincial) chairperson for Mashonaland West. It was one of the busiest moments and experience in my life time.
ND: How did you feel to be chosen by the President to be his right handperson in the elections?
ZZ: It was a huge honour and I really appreciate the honour that was bestowed on me by the President to represent him in the election. It actually gave me a lot of experience and I appreciate the gesture very much.
ND: Let me take you back to your ministry, what other issues will you be looking at apart from the alignment of laws?
ZZ: We have issues of access to justice, the majority of our people’s access to the courts is limited. We have issues to deal with awareness of people’s rights and we have issues to deal with legislation that will give effect to enabling environment that will allow the ease of doing business to happen.
The President is speaking about the need to have a middle-oncome economy by 2030, so we need to deal with legislation that will allow that process happen. So we have a huge task to ensure that our people are aware of their rights, and access to justice. We also have to deal with corruption.
ND: Is this government really committed to addressing these issues or this is just lip service?
ZZ: Yes, there is (commitment). Just go back to the recent events where we got rid of a Prosecutor-General who was dragging his feet on prosecuting corruption cases, we have set up anti-corruption courts, we have a unit in the President’s Office that advises him on corruption issues. So the appetite to deal with corruption issues is very high in this administration.
ND: You spoke about respecting people’s rights, but some would say Zanu PF is at the forefront of violating these human rights?
ZZ: I don’t think it’s correct. Zanu PF is a political party and a player that is there also to observe those human rights that are enshrined in our laws. So it’s the duty of enforcers to make sure that those rights are upheld and we are saying we are going to ensure that the public awareness team will run programmes that will ensure that we gave a public awareness of the Constitution and our rights that are enshrined in there.
ND: What is you view on the Cabinet that has been appointed?
ZZ: I think the President has ushered in a progressive Cabinet and I hope they will hit the ground running and in our various portfolios, we will contribute to ensure the vision the President is realised.