Movement for Democratic Change shadow Minister for Justice Jesse Majome has accused President Robert Mugabe, his deputy Joice Mujuru and Speaker Jacob Mudenda of failing to curb corruption.
In a statement today, she said the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front leadership, including the three, had dismally failed the nation by either muffling or avoiding tackling corrupt activities that were taking place in every sphere of the economy seriously affecting the growth of the economy and the day-to-day lives of the people.
Majome was also disturbed by the levels of corruption in the justice delivery sector itself. She said she had established an Anti-Corruption Committee in the Ministry of Justice when she was Deputy Minister and strongly urged the ministry to revive the committee in order to uproot corruption from the justice delivery sector.
“The MDC demands that the laws of this country should be urgently realigned with the Constitution of Zimbabwe so that we have a government that abides by the rule of law, delivers justice and protects and promotes fundamental rights.
“Zimbabwe has for too long endured pariah status in respect of its record of violating the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights. As the MDC, we therefore demand a democratic constitutional dispensation coupled with a strong, vibrant and accessible Parliament and a pervasive culture of human rights,” she said.
Thursday, 27 March 2014
Press Statement by Hon. Jessie Majome, the MDC Alternative Minister for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
The MDC Alternative Cabinet is
1. Deeply concerned by the deepening constitutional crisis and continuation of wholesale and blatant governance of Zimbabwe ultra vires the Constitution, the supreme law of the land. This unconstitutional government is spawned by the failure, 310 days to date, of the Zanu PF government, to align the law in order to implement the new Constitution.
2. Also alarmed by the overt and covert attacks on the independence and authority of Parliament by the Zanu PF regime.
3. disconcerted by the systemic undermining and stunting, by the Zanu PF regime of independent pillars of the democracy and combating crime i.e. independent commissions such as the Human Rights and Electoral Commissions, and the National Prosecution Authority, and
4. Concerned by the escalating erosion of the rule of law, the deterioration of the justice delivery system and human rights situation ministered by the Zanu PF government.
1. Constitutional Crisis and Unconstitutional Government
The MDC is deeply concerned by the now chronic but acute constitutional crisis created by the Zanu PF government’s inexplicable failure to align the law to the new Constitution nearly a year after it was adopted. The failure by the Executive to respect and obey the Constitution, and align the country’s laws to the Constitution is a slow but certain asphyxiation of the rule of law and abortion of constitutionalism.
The people of Zimbabwe are wondering why Zanu PF is failing to align the country’s laws to the Constitution. The country’s Constitution is, judging by the thunderous approval of it in the March 2013 referendum, consistent with the people’s wishes for all governance structures.
Every minute that passes without the aligning of the law to the new Constitution fuels the logical fear that Zanu PF plans to abuse its ill-gotten parliamentary majority to amend the Constitution so emphatically endorsed by Zimbabweans. Every minute of delay that ticks away also betrays what we have always known, that Zanu PF wants to conveniently keep the old Constitutional order as good cover for its nefarious deeds that abhor the rule of law and general accountability. This exemplified by the salary- gate scandal.
2. Undermining the Independence and Authority of Parliament
The MDC Alternative Cabinet strongly condemns the unconstitutional actions by Jacob Mudenda, the Speaker of the National of Assembly, of gagging MPs across the entire political divide and threatening them with contempt of Parliament charges should they speak against corruption in the nation.
Section 148 of the Constitution, which supersedes all other laws or rules categorically provides that ‘Members of Parliament have freedom of speech in Parliament in all Parliamentary committees and, while they must obey the rules and orders of the House concerned, they are not liable to civil or criminal proceedings, arrest or imprisonment or damages for anything said in… Parliament’.
The threats by Mudenda were made after the MPs had raised serious concerns over corruption in Zanu PF linked parastatals and the insane salaries and allowances that are being paid to some parastatals’ bosses.
The MPs, as the people’s representatives in Parliament, have every right and duty to speak against any form of corruption which has reached unparalleled levels especially in government institutions that are managed by Zanu PF officials.
Such threats are calculated to induce timidity amongst MPs and do not therefore bode well for the development of a robust constitutional Parliamentary democracy that Zimbabweans voted for in the referendum for the new Constitution. The MDC is perplexed by this full frontal attack on the time hallowed tradition of parliamentary privileges and immunities, the only bulwark of defence for the legislature against the gale force winds of executive power, especially by an office that should be its chief sentry.
The MDC expects Mudenda to instead jealously guard the independence and authority of Parliament as an equal and separate arm of government. Mudenda should actually be addressing the failure by Parliament to provide basic provisions such as adequate accommodation for Parliament itself, researchers, offices, allowances and fuel coupons for the MPs who are failing to hold meetings in their constituencies.
The MDC expects Mudenda to instead fight for the empowerment of Parliament to be accessible to the public through public hearings for Bills before it, rather than seek to control what MPs can say or cannot say.
Failure to address these necessities for the proper functioning of Parliament is tantamount to or a covert attack on and subversion of the independence, stature and authority of Parliament vis a vis the executive of the Zanu PF government.
The MDC urges its and all MPs not to be intimidated by Mudenda’s threats and continue to fight for transparency and the rule of law.
3. Undermining of Independent Commissions Supporting Democracy & Combating Crime
The MDC Alternative Cabinet is disturbed by the deliberate undermining of independent commissions supporting democracy by the Zanu PF government.
The Human Rights Commission continues to be weak and an appendage of the Ministry of Justice. The selection of Elasto Mugwadi as its head does not induce confidence in the commitment of the Commission to advance human rights.
Mugwadi is a person who has numerous human rights abuse records, which he administered in the immigration system where he grossly violated human rights. The MDC is appalled that recently the same Chairperson
Mugwadi frankly confessed to a parliamentary committee public hearing that his mission is to defend the government in the international human rights fora. He is clearly not suited for the post.
The MDC Alternative Cabinet is disconcerted by the continuing emasculation of the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission through the rushing of an Electoral Amendment Bill through the Senate. The Bill seeks to unconstitutionally keep control of the voters’ roll away from ZEC. The Bill seeks to make piecemeal, unilateral and unconstitutional amendments to the electoral law, instead of giving full effect to the new Constitution by among other things providing for the Diaspora vote and giving effect to the
gender balance imperatives in the Constitution.
Given Zimbabwe’s chequered electoral history, the Zimbabwean public must be afforded an ear through public hearings on the Bill, and a full menu of electoral reforms involving POSA, AIPPA, and the Broadcasting Services Act to ensure free and fair and credible elections. Such comprehensive and people-driven electoral reforms are the only way of cultivating confidence in ZEC and debunking the regrettable perception that the electoral law amendment is meant only to catapult the former Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono to a party Senate list, and not for the public good.
The MDC is concerned that the National Prosecution Authority has started off on a note that does not inspire confidence as to its independence. This is firstly because its inaugural head, Johannes Tomana, the former Attorney General openly confessed allegiance to the government’s party Zanu PF, and the National Prosecution Authority Bill to be placed before Parliament is designed to keep the authority firmly under the clutches of the Minister of Justice, contrary to the Constitution’s demand for it to be independent.
Notwithstanding this, the MDC demands and expects the culprits of the electoral violence of 2008 and before to be finally tried for their crimes and pay restitution to the victims.
4. Erosion of the Rule of Law, Deterioration of Access to Justice and the Human Rights Situation The withdrawal of retention allowances of senior law officers by the Zanu PF government in January was misguided as this makes the officers either candidates of further brain drain or be prone to corrupt and other criminal activities, which will seriously affect the delivery of justice and the rule of law in the country. The gross underfunding of the justice sector resulting in unsanitary and unsafe court facilities is deplored in the strongest terms.
There is also serious underfunding of the Victim Friendly Courts System thereby seriously letting the people including the complainants and accused persons down.
The government of the day is further unconstitutionally failing to establish legal aid clinics in all provinces, a move which has seen the poor and the underprivileged failing to get a fair trial in the courts. The MDC condemns the unilateral and top-down imposition of mandatory service by the Deputy Sheriff or Messenger of Court, of even notices of set down and hefty fees, as discriminatory against the poor. The MDC condemns the recent appointment to the Judicial Service Commission in a manner that directly breaches Section 17 of the Constitution on gender balance.
The MDC is disturbed by the increasing failure to ensure the provision of reasoned judgements and timeous delivery of judgments, even all the way up to the Constitutional Court.
a. Appointment of the Attorney General
As a party, the MDC is concerned by the delay in the appointment of an Attorney General (AG) in clear disregard of the country’s Constitution. The urgent appointment of the AG is absolutely critical as he or she will among other duties act as the principal legal advisor of the government to promote, protect and uphold the rule of law and to defend the public interest.
Further, the failure to establish the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s office at the very least in Bulawayo, 34 years after independence, and 310 days after a Constitution enshrining devolution of power is scandalous to say the least.
The persistent failure by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) to take prisoners on remand to court and forcing the postponement of trials due to lack of fuel is generating a serious humanitarian crisis.
The new constitutional dispensation demands that all those who are detained are afforded an opportunity to interrogate such detention against the law and standards associated with the administration of justice.
Section 50 (5) (e) of the country’s Constitution affords every detained person the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention in person before a court of law and if the detention is declared unlawful, the accused person must be released immediately.
It is common cause that one can effectively challenge any detention without being in court and therefore it is unconstitutional for the prison officials not to make arrangements for those in custody to be heard in absentia. The Zanu PF government is failing in ensuring that every prisoner has a direct constitutional right to have access to justice delivery system. The transportation of prisoners to the courts is a critically important matter and should be taken seriously by all concerned government officials.
Furthermore, the inmates continue to live under squalid, inhuman and deteriorating conditions with no access to medicines, food and clothing with the prison officials disregarding the country’s laws that every prisoner has a right to human dignity at all times.
It is also worrying that juvenile prisoners are being kept in prisons where they associate with serving adult prisoners thereby exposing them to all sorts of ills associated with the hardcore prisoners. The juvenile prisoners should be looked after at Hwahwa prison in Gweru but the prison officials are claiming that they have no fuel to transport them there.
The MDC is concerned by the recent high number of prison escapes and demands that the government accounts for all the escaped prisoners and demonstrates that it has held those responsible to account.
As stated earlier, the MDC does not condone any form of corruption and therefore as a party we are worried that officials, most of whom are linked to Zanu PF, have not been prosecuted against these criminal activities.
The Zanu PF leadership, including its leader Robert Mugabe, his deputy Joice Mujuru and the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudenda have dismally failed the nation by either muffling or avoiding the tackling of corrupt activities that are taking place in every sphere of the economy, thereby seriously adversely affecting the day to day lives of the people of Zimbabwe and the growth of the economy.
The MDC Alternative Cabinet is disturbed by the levels of corruption in the justice delivery sector itself. This Alternative Minister established an Anti-Corruption Committee in the Ministry of Justice when she was then the Deputy Minister and strongly urges the ministry to revive the committee in order to uproot corruption from the justice delivery sector.
In conclusion, the MDC demands that the laws of this country should be urgently realigned with the Constitution of Zimbabwe so that we have a government that abides by the rule of law, delivers justice and protects and promotes fundamental rights.
Zimbabwe has for too long endured pariah status in respect of its record of violating the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights. As the MDC, we therefore demand a democratic constitutional dispensation coupled with a strong, vibrant and accessible Parliament and a pervasive culture of human rights.
I thank you!!!