Legislative Law in Zimbabwe

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Legislation refers to the law validly enacted by the legislative authority of Zimbabwe and assented to by the President of Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe the legislative authority of Zimbabwe vests in the President and Parliament of Zimbabwe which is the Primary Legislation states as follows:

Section 32 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe: Legislative Authority

  1. The Legislative authority of Zimbabwe shall vest in the Legislative which shall consist of the President and Parliament.
  2. The provisions of subsection (1) shall not be construed as preventing the legislature from conferring legislative functions on any person or authority.

The Zimbabwean Constitution provides for a clear separation of powers between the three separate and independent arms of government, i.e. the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive. Parliament makes laws, the Executive administers and implements the laws and the Judiciary interprets the laws. It is normally the Executive that initiates laws by drafting proposed laws and presenting them to Parliament for their approval. Parliament may pass such laws, with or without amendments or reject such laws. There is provision for Parliament itself to initiate laws by proposing Private Members Bills. These are Bills composed by individual Members of Parliament and presented to Parliament for its approval.[1]

Introduction

The Legislature of Zimbabwe can confer powers on any authority to create binding laws. Currently the Legislature of Zimbabwe is a bicameral system consisting of a Lower House (Parliament) and an upper House (Senate). Bicameralism is the practice of having two parliamentary chambers, an Upper House – the Senate, and a Lower House, the House of Assembly. Legislation brought through parliament has to be scrutinized by the Senate before it goes for assent to the executive President. The senate was ushered in through Constitutional Amendment Number 17 of 2005. The idea of a Senate goes beyond partisan politics, beyond job creation for loyalists; it is about the best system of governance for Zimbabwe in the present and into the future. Even in the oldest of civilisations, the Senate has been a necessary means of tapping on the knowledge and experience of the eldest members of a community. It is basically a safeguard for prudence, and an assurance that all interests — including those not fully represented in the Lower House — are represented in the legislative process.[2]

The Senate had been abolished in 1987 on the pretext that it was expensive and that it slowed down the legislative process. Surprisingly it was reintroduced in 2005. Zimbabwe has reintroduced the Senate or Upper House through a constitutional amendment 18 years after abolishing the bicameral legislative system in 1987. The Senate was initially introduced as a condition of the Lancaster House negotiations for independence in 1980.[3]

The method of passing legislation is entrenched in Section 511 of the Constitution. All legislation in Zimbabwe is styled Acts of Parliament or Statutes. Other authorities such as the President, acting unilaterally, and Ministries can pass legislation known as Statutory Instrument, or Subsidiary Legislation. Subsidiary or Subordinate Legislation consists of the following:

  • Regulations made by a Minister for purposes specified in the Enabling Act of Parliament.
  • Bye-Laws created by specified local authorities such as Urban or Rural Councils, acting under powers given to them by the relevant Acts of Parliament.
  • Proclamations issued by the President for purposes such as dissolving Parliament.
  • Rules of the superior Courts to facilitate procedure and their operations.
  • Regulations made by the President under the Presidential Powers Temporary Measures Act.

Background

The history of the Zimbabwean Senate did not begin in 1980, as it can be traced back to the 1924 Rhodesian Constitution that provided for the establishment of an Upper House. It, however, only came into existence under the 1969 Constitution after the settler regime felt the need to bring chiefs into Parliament in an attempt to stem the rising nationalist sentiment.[4]

The Constitution of Zimbabwe provided for a two-chamber Parliament: a Senate consisting of 40 members; 14 of whom were elected by an Electoral College made up of the 80 members of the House of Assembly elected on the black roll. Ten who were chiefs – five from Matabeleland and five from Mashonaland. The President appointed the other six members after consulting the Prime Minister.

Ten of the 40 Senate seats were reserved for whites. This meant that the Republican Front (RF) which represented less than 1 percent of the population had an enormous 25 percent representation in the Upper House.

The Law Making Process

For a law to be said to be a law made by the legislature in Zimbabwe, it must pass through two stages. First, it must be passed by the requisite majority in both houses of Parliament. Second, once it has been passed by Parliament, it should be assented to by the president before it becomes law. This second stage makes the president very much part of the legislature in Zimbabwe. The president is a separate organ from Parliament, but he has the power to accept or reject laws that it has passed. This is so, even though the president is also head of the executive, which implements the law. This state of affairs essentially allows the executive (the Cabinet) to have a final say on the law-making process. The Law Making Process is key in coming up with the laws of the country.



References

  1. [1], Parliament of Zimbabwe, Accessed: 29 September, 2020
  2. Donald T Charumbira, [2], Kubatana.net, Published: 8 June, 2020, Accessed: 29 September, 2020
  3. [3], Southern African News Features, Published: 28 November, 2005, Accessed: 29 September, 2020
  4. [4], The Herald, Published: 16 April, 2015, Accessed: 29 September, 2020