Government ministries have come under fire for reportedly sabotaging efforts to align the existing laws to the new Constitution by failing to identify and submit to the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs laws they want reviewed, a year after the new Government came into office.
As a result, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs last Thursday read the riot act to ministries frustrating the process.
After the new Constitution was signed into law in May last year, Government ministries were expected to identify all laws that needed to be reviewed and then submit drafts to the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration.
Speaking at an inter-ministerial committee meeting on alignment of legislation in Harare, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Deputy Minister Fortune Chasi said delays in aligning the laws to the Constitution was akin to sabotage.
Officials from legal departments within ministries attended the meeting where Deputy Minister Chasi encouraged them to confess if they were being sanctioned by their superiors from implementing provisions of the Constitution.
“We are not going to defend any ministry that fails to do what they are supposed to do,” he said.
“We can’t give excuses to the public because they simply expect finality. We have the responsibility to effectuate the contents of the Constitution. If we don’t do what we are supposed to do, the public has a right to be incensed.”
Deputy Minister Chasi said one of the loopholes in the Constitution was that it did not have timeframes on the implementation of its provisions.
Nonetheless he said, the inter-ministerial meeting was supposed to come up with a work plan on the implementation of Constitutional provisions.
He said the pace of legislative drafters was dependant on the pace of ministries in identifying sections that were not in sync with the provisions of the Constitution.
Deputy Minister Chasi said they expected legal practitioners in ministries to be professional in exercising their mandate adding that legal drafting was a legal and technical process than political.
He said there was need for officials in ministries to go beyond working hours to complete the job at hand.
“If you allow yourselves as professionals to be co-opted and put partisan views you will create problems. Let’s avoid vested interests, sabotage or partisan interests.
“There are anxieties in Zimbabwe from the generality of the Republic, civil society and us as Government. We are anxious at the pace at which the process takes place. If we fail to do this we would have sabotaged the process,” said Deputy Minister Chasi.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emerson Mnangagwa last week said Cabinet had already approved about 206 laws out of about 400 that require synchronisation with the new charter.