Republic of Zimbabwe Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chinamasa. Zimbabwe has recently declined funding for the upcoming elections from the United Nations., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Death of Parly: Zim now run by presidential decree
30 June 2013 00:00
Sunday Mail Reporters
Zimbabwe will be run under Presidential decree from today until after the harmonised elections following the automatic dissolution of Parliament last night. The new dispensation means the President is now the sole authority mandated to make laws if the need arises. In an interview yesterday, Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Cde Patrick
Chinamasa said the Presidential decree would last until the swearing in of the successful candidate in the presidential poll.
Cde Chinamasa said it was important for the country to hold elections early to ensure the three arms of the State function simultaneously.
Any further poll delays will not be healthy for a democratic society, he added.
“The life of Parliament will be terminated by operation of the law. It means that there is no authority with power to make legislation except the President,” he said.
“This will be the situation obtaining until the next President is sworn in.”
Minister Chinamasa said this year marks the first time since 1980 that Zimbabwe will operate under decree without going to elections soon after the dissolution of Parliament.
“In the history of Zimbabwe, we have never had a vacuum that has been so long between the dissolution of Parliament and the swearing in of the President.
“Normally Parliament is dissolved the midnight before elections. Of the three arms of the State which are the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, there are now going to be just two which will function.
“Even so, the Executive will be left legally limping because it needs the Legislature for it to be fully functional. This is why any further postponement of elections is unthinkable and not healthy for a democratic society.”
Constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku said proponents of early elections have been vindicated.
“If there is an urgent law to be passed, the President has to invoke Presidential powers until we have a new Parliament.
“This is the more reason why we have been saying elections must be held as soon as possible.”
The life of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe expired at midnight after the Legislature ran its five-year tenure. In terms of the law, the country should hold elections after every five years.
Analysts say the hung Parliament, a product of the inconclusive 2008 plebiscite, did not register many successes owing to the bickering that characterised it.
For instance, analysts say, the setting up of constitutional commissions was done via Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee and this presented headaches in the preliminary stages of the Parliament as suspicion between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations took centre stage.
The same applied in the case of motions and debate.
Zanu-PF House of Assembly Chief Whip Cde Jorum Gumbo said the Parliament was ineffective in the discharge of its functions.
“Apart from Amendment which ushered in the inclusive Government, we have also passed the new Constitution. Those were the major laws we passed. However, generally, this Parliament was not productive,” he said.
“I don’t think the electorate benefited from this Parliament. We were always fighting and shouting at each other instead of crafting laws which benefit the country.
“You also need to realise that as Parliament, we were powerless because of the inclusive Government. If ever there was a disagreement it was referred to the negotiators and then the principals.”
Cde Gumbo said most parliamentarians spent the greater part of their terms campaigning because “the country has been in election mode since 2008”.
MDC-T House of Assembly Chief Whip Mr Innocent Gonese concurred with Cde Gumbo. He said the only notable achievement was the new Constitution.
“We did not do much in terms of our mandate because there was no unity and cohesion among us as legislators.
“There was a lot of disharmony among the parties. There was no consensus. There were a lot of disagreements and most laws were coming from the Executive.”
House of Assembly Speaker Mr Lovemore Moyo said haggling among the parties represented in the House inhibited progress.
Senate President Cde Edna Madzongwe said her chambers witnessed constructive debate. She said most Senator displayed maturity by bringing to the fore critical issues that benefit the nation.
“Perhaps maturity played a major part in bringing about this harmony in the House. Sittings were characterised by lively debate; there was no jeering.
“The workshops that we held were also interactive. This helped build a common understanding among the Senators. We were in the House for national development, nothing else.”