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FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks at a media conference at State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

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Zim ratifies African charter on democracy

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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa this week signed the Instrument of Ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

 Veritas, a lawyer body with an interest in legal, constitutional and parliamentary affairs, says although Mnangagwa signed the charter on 21 March 2018 at an African Union (AU) summit, his signature alone was not sufficient to make Zimbabwe a “state party” and as such legally bound by the charter’s provisions.

“The charter’s definition of ‘state party’ and its article 47 requires the President’s signature on behalf of Zimbabwe to be supplemented by ratification in accordance with Zimbabwe’s constitutional procedures and the deposit of Zimbabwe’s instrument of ratification with the chairperson of the AU Commission,” Veritas said.

 “On the deposit of the Instrument of Ratification — and only then — will Zimbabwe become a full state party to the charter.”

 The ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is expected to engage the ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to have the instrument of ratification of the charter deposited with the chairperson of the AU Commission in Addis Ababa by Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the AU.

 Parliament approved for the instrument of ratification to be placed before the President in 2019, but Mnangagwa only signed appended his signature this week.

Each member state who is party to the charter is expected to adhere to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights as well as promote and enhance adherence to the principle of the rule of law premised upon the respect for, and the supremacy of, the constitution and constitutional order in the political arrangements of the state parties.

Members are expected to promote the holding of regular free and fair elections to institutionalise legitimate authority of representative government as well as democratic change of governments.

Mnangagwa, who rose to power on the back of a military coup, is now expected to prohibit, reject and condemn unconstitutional change of government in any member state as a serious threat to stability, peace, security and development.

 At a time there have been judicial capture concerns, Mnangagwa is expected to promote and protect the independence of the judiciary as well as nurture, support and consolidate good governance by promoting democratic culture and practice, building and strengthening governance institutions and inculcating political pluralism and tolerance.

Zimbabwe is also expected to encourage effective coordination and harmonisation of governance policies among state parties, with the aim of promoting regional and continental integration; promoting state parties’ sustainable development and human security and promote the fight against corruption in conformity with the provisions of the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption adopted in Maputo, Mozambique, in July 2003.

 Mnangagwa committed himself to promoting the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation, transparency, access to information, freedom of the Press and accountability in the management of public affairs; promoting gender balance and equality in the governance and development processes as well as enhancing cooperation between the AU, regional economic communities and the international community on democracy, elections and governance.

The charter calls on members to promote best practice in the management of elections for purposes of political stability and good governance, among other outcomes. — STAFF WRITER.

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