EU concerned over slow laws alignment

HARARE - European Union head of delegation Phillipe Van Damme has expressed concern over the slow pace at which laws are being aligned to the Constitution adopted three years ago.

So far, about 150 laws out of 400 have been aligned to the Constitution.

The EU — together with Norway and Switzerland embassies — are funding the alignment processes.

Speaking at the website launch of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce (IMT) on the implementation of the Constitution, Van Damme said many stakeholders were dissatisfied “particularly with the perceived inordinate length of time the process is taking”.

He said of great concern was “legislation relating to the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms, including the . . . much talked about Electoral Act, various public order and security related Acts, Local Government Act as well as media laws”.

“(Stakeholders are also concerned about) the disappointing content of some of the Bills produced or Acts passed without the benefit of proper consultations and assistance for prior quality screening by legal experts made available through this project,” Van Damme said.

He added: “There are also questions regarding what sometimes appears as a fragmented approach to the alignment process, where different Acts and Bills covering a same thematic area should be tackled together in order to ensure internal coherence and consistency, as is the case for example for all Acts and Bills touching upon local government related issues.”

Currently, the IMT is working on 13 Bills.

This this comes as officials said the Constitution did not provide a framework on how the laws were going to be aligned.

The IMT was set up in February last year, with the three embassies unveiling over €2 million for the project.

Van Damme said citizens will be able to track progress of some Bills on the website and can take action if they note some slacking. “The EU and the other funding partners — Switzerland and Norway — share some of those concerns.

“Indeed, the project committee, which consists of the funding partners, the Justice ministry and Centre for Applied Legal Research, has had lengthy discussions on how to speed up the alignment process whilst reinforcing the quality and internal consistency of the Bills,” Van Damme said.

“Once people are informed, they can fully participate in the process.

“They can lobby government from an informed position and, if they still feel that there are indeed inordinate delays, also hold government to account for taking too long to implement the Constitution which they voted for more than three years ago.”

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa — also Justice minister — said the website would “go a long way in enhancing the work of the IMT by periodically updating the public on progress made”.

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