PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa told delegates attending the Zimbabwe Second Structured Dialogue Platform Meeting that the country is upholding tenets of good governance and democracy as part of efforts to resolve the debt crisis, but his claims differ from the reforms being demanded by opposition players and human rights watchdogs, The NewsHawks has learnt.
Zimbabwe this week hosted the second structured meeting, which sought to look into economic and governance issues constraining arrears clearance and debt resolution, headlined by African Development Bank (AfDB) president, Akinumwi Adesina and former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano.
Harare has been struggling to settle arrears with international financial institutions such as the World Bank, which has seen it fail to get loans.
In his opening address, Mnangagwa said he has been expediting economic and political reforms. His remarks are in stark contrast to opposition parliamentarians and civil society who accuse him of presiding over a ruthless and corrupt dictatorship.
“Under the Governance Pillar, my administration is unwavering in its adherence to Constitutionalism, the rule of law and the tenets of good governance and democracy. We will ensure that our laws are applied consistently, without fear or favour.
“Zimbabwe will conduct free and fair elections this year, consistent with our Constitution and electoral laws. In addition, human rights concerns are being addressed in line with our country’s laws and international conventions,” he said.
In May last year, the European Union Observer Mission to Zimbabwe said progress on the implementation of reforms has been limited, with the majority of the priority ones yet to be addressed.
Parliament on electoral reforms
While electoral reforms have mainly been anchored on the Electoral Amendment Bill, parliamentarians have shot it down, saying it has been flawed, while failing to address recommendations by international observer missions.
Last week in the National Assembly, a debate arose on the Bill, in which Mutare Central legislator Innocent Gonese shot down the Electoral Bill over its failure to address challenges dogging Zimbabwe’s electoral system, that have been bought before Parliament.
“To say that the Bill is not a good Bill is an understatement. I actually say that this is a horrible Bill, this is a terrible piece of legislation both from a procedural and a substantive point of view.
“Everyone knows the history of Zimbabwe. We have had a history of disputed elections culminating in the elections of 2018 which also had its own controversies. We had recommendations made by various observer missions.
“We have had several other processes, so I venture to say that as a starting point, the Bill which has been presented by the honourable minister is very narrow in its scope, in its memorandum, it simply refers to the alignment of the Electoral Law with Amendment No. 2,” Gonese told Parliament.
The amendment has been criticised for giving Mnangagwa unfettered control.
While Amendment No. 2 is currently before the constitutional court over the process leading to its passage through Parliament, Gonese said the Electoral Bill could be rendered invalid should the court declare the law invalid.
Legislators have also been suspecting foul play in the Bill’s processing.
“I submit with due respect, that this is a flawed process. As a portfolio committee, we actually tried to engage Zec and a copy of the Bill was sent to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
“The second point is that there was also a parallel process involving the three parties in Parliament facilitated by the Zimbabwe Institute where Zanu PF participated, MDC participated and CCC participated.
“It was a tripartite process where each of those political parties gets engagement through the facilitation of Zec. Several recommendations, several inputs were put and the parties came up with certain agreed positions. That again has been thrown out of the window. I therefore submit that because of these procedural flaws, this Bill must be torn into pieces and thrown out and we start afresh,” Gonese said.
Last week, in a move that sparked political uproar ahead of general elections in August, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa brazenly breached the constitution — an impeachable offence — after failing to gazette the final delimitation report he received from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) on 3 February within 14 days in terms of the law.
Mnangagwa’s actions and what has been happening behind the scenes show that there is a spirited campaign to subvert the constitution, a serious democratic aberration and constitutional offence, and fiddle with the final delimitation report to advance the President and Zanu PF’s political agenda in the run up to the polls.
In terms of the constitution, Mnangagwa, who has torpedoed the gazetting process, was supposed to publish the report on 17 February after receiving it on 3 February. Section 161 of the constitution says it should be published with within 14 days of its receipt from Zec.
“Within fourteen days after receiving the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s final report, the President must publish a proclamation in the gazette declaring the names and boundaries of the wards and constituencies as finally determined by the commission,” the constitution stipulates.
The proclamation to the final report was produced last week, after weeks of speculation.
Other institutions have been caught in constitutionalism storms.
For instance, Zec was criticised over findings that it might have used the Old Lancaster House Conference constitution in working out population thresholds within the delimitation report.