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Will Parliament Amend Zimbabwe's New Constitution?

Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda
Parliamentarians face an uphill task as they start next week to align several laws with Zimbabwe’s new constitution as fears mount that they will amend the supreme law to entrench Zanu PF rule.

The government could be sued if it fails to bring the laws into line with the new constitution.

Deputy Justice Minister Fortune Chasi told the state-controlled Sunday Mail that the House of Assembly is expected to institute comprehensive legal alignments when the eight parliament, which officially opens Tuesday, starts sessions September 24.

Chasi is quoted by the newspaper as saying the laws that need to be enacted urgently are to cater for the operations of the provincial councils, alignment of terms of citizenship rights, new statutes on the death penalty and broadcasting services.

New laws also need to be ratified to sanction the operations of the Attorney-General and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), which is a new feature in the new constitution.

Critics say laws such the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Public Order and Security Act should be amended as they violate some provisions of the new constitution.

Zanu-PF has the parliamentary majority to amend the new constitution. But spokesman Douglas Mwonzora of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said his party will boycott the official opening ceremony.

Mwonzora said Zanu-PF has no ability to change the new constitution. “Fortunately when we drafted the constitution we made sure that important clauses were not amenable to amendment unilaterally by parliament. Important provisions like the bill of rights and others can only be amended by a referendum.”

Zanu PF parliamentary chief whip, Joram Gumbo, said it will be unfortunate for the MDC to boycott the official opening session.

“If MDC members are going to stay away then what interest are they representing? Just for the lack of a better word, it’s political immaturity,” said Gumbo.

At the same time, the MDC-T is seeking a High Court order to compel government to accept the appointment of non-councillors as city mayors.

The party’s lawyer Tendai Toto said the case is expected to be heard Sunday evening.
Government wants mayors to be elected councillors while the MDC has said it wants to appoint non-elected party members.