MPs feel helpless as laws alignment takes ages

HARARE - Legislators serving in the second session of the eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe are now feeling useless as they have “failed” to align the country’s laws with the new Constitution.

Recently, civil society and residents’ organisations petitioned Parliament to press for the alignment of the country’s laws after Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere “disrupted” Harare City Council’s process of hiring a town clerk on the basis that he was not consulted. This is despite the fact that the new Constitution vests such powers in local authorities.

MDC legislator and former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri said as parliamentarians they are now feeling impotent because of their failure to influence the speedy alignment of the country’s laws with the new Constitution.

“You have just read a petition from residents (representative groups) on a situation whereby they are requesting us to operationalise the law with the Constitution. I want to ask you Speaker (Jacob Mudenda) whether we are still relevant, two-and-a-half to three years in Parliament without operationalisation of the Constitution.

“We are disabusing the Constitution. What is Parliament doing to ensure that we operationalise the laws in line with the Constitution and when are (we) going to do that?”   Mudzuri, said in Parliament recently.

The civil society petition has been referred to the parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice,  Legal Affairs and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

Meanwhile senators have called upon government to set a time frame to address the issue of devolution.

In a statement yesterday, organisations which included Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe, Chitungwiza Residents Trust, Harare Residents Trust and Zimbabwe United Residents Association said the legislators should rise above party politics to ensure that they serve the people.

“We call upon the legislators to rise above party interests and be guided by common interests and craft laws that are in conformity with the Constitution and international best practices,” the statement read.

“We further call upon political parties represented in Parliament to rise above narrow partisan interests and promote open debate on the proposed local government laws so that we can have a legal framework governing our local government in Zimbabwe that transcends parochial partisan interests or boundaries.”

“In the interests of democracy and respecting the sanctity of our Constitution, we call upon parliamentarians to play their oversight, representative and legislative roles and ensure that the proposed Local Authorities Bill and the Provincial and Metropolitan Councils Bill are debated in Parliament and that the general public is given an opportunity to express their views on these important pieces of legislation.”

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