Defining week for Con-Court

HARARE - It is a defining week for the Constitutional Court (Con-Court), which will hear and make decisions on constitutional applications that have a strong bearing on the country’s justice delivery system.

The challenges have been prompted by the delays in the alignment of operational Acts in line with provisions of the Constitution signed into operation on May 3, 2013.

Among the issues that have become contentious and will be challenged this week, is the death penalty as well as the police’s ban of demonstrations using Section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).

Also, under contest this week is the Police Act that allows people to sue the law enforcement agents within eight months after the wrong has been committed and former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s challenge against the introduction of bond notes.

In the death row case, convicted prisoners Farai Lawrence Ndlovu and Wisdom Gochera — represented by Tendai Biti — are challenging the law that was used to sentence them, shortly before the Constitution came into force.

According to Veritas, a legal advocacy organisation, “The argument, on their behalf, is that the new Constitution effectively abolished the pre-existing law that provided for the carrying-out of the death penalty and the new law providing for the death penalty had not been enacted at the time the court application was filed. Hence, the argument is that they cannot now be executed because the law to be applied is the law as it existed at the time of filing the application.”

The two are arguing that the conditions that they were sentenced under the old Constitution are different from the provisions of the new Constitution which gives right to life.

In terms of the Constitution, the death penalty is ordered in cases that involve aggravated murder, among other provisions.

They argue that in terms of the new Constitution they do not qualify to be on death row.

Concerning the eight months limit set by Section 70 of the Police Act, the Con-Court will on Wednesday make a “confirmation or otherwise” on whether the Act is scraped as ruled by High Court Judge Amy Tsanga.

In her March ruling, Tsanga said Section 70 of the Police Act was inconsistent with Section 69 (2) and 56 (1) of the Constitution.

While the Police Act allowed the law enforcers to be sued within eight months, citizens had the liberty to sue all other government and private organisations within three years of the incident.

The challenge arose after two army personnel, Michael Munyika and Chrispen Tobaiwa, sued Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and the police for nearly $1 million after they were shot by police officers who had stopped their vehicle.

They are also represented by Biti.

Posa, widely criticised as a “draconian” law, will also come under further scrutiny today with a hearing before Judge president George Chiweshe, with opposition political parties challenging the police ban on demonstrations.

The ruling, however, has been set for Friday.

The parties, represented by Dzimbahwe Chimbga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Biti, filed an urgent chamber High Court application following a prohibition order by the police banning the holding of demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe’s 36-year rule in central Harare.

In his probation order, Zimbabwe Republic Police officer commanding Harare district, Newbert Saunyama, said: “In terms of Section 27 (1) of Public Order and Security Act, (Chapter 11:17), I…Newbert Saunyama being the officer  commanding Harare Central District and therefore the regulating authority of the area, believes on reasonable grounds that, the powers conferred by Section 26 of the Public Order and Security Act, (Chapter11:17), are not sufficient to prevent public order being occasioned by the holding of processions or public demonstrations or any class thereof in Harare Central Police District, that is the area bounded by Cumberland Road, Enterprise Road, Churchill Avenue, Swan Drive, Cork Road, Sandringham Drive, Drammond Chaplin Road, Marimba Stream, Coventry Road, Rotten Row Road, National Railways of  Zimbabwe line up to Mukuvisi River and back to Cumberland Road for a period not exceeding one month that is from September 16, 2016 to October 15, 2016.”

Meanwhile, observers and legal experts have expressed concern over the slow pace at which the government was aligning laws with the Constitution, with about 150 laws having been aligned out of 400 laws that the Justice ministry said needed to be aligned to the Constitution.

Comments (2)

CHIWESHE MUTENGESI

munyimi - 27 September 2016

Death to all murderers A Tear for Tear!! Blood is by Blood!!

Mukanya - 28 September 2016

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