Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said that the new constitution will be available in 16 languages and the government has already printed over 750 000 copies in English, Shona and Ndebele and will distribute these to provincial capitals next month.
He said the government was now recruiting experts in the other 13 languages.
The languages include Chewa, Chibarwe, Kalanga, Khoisan, Nambya, Ndau, Shangani, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa.
Mnangagwa said he did not believes judges had been put into a difficult position because of the non-alignment of existing laws with the new constitution because he had not received any complaints from them.
Q & A:
MR. MANDIPAKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. E. D. Mnangagwa. Realising that one of the principles of good governance entails responsiveness and realising that obligations imposed by the Constitution are binding. How far hon. Minister have we gone as a nation in mobilising resources to promote public awareness of the current Constitution in compliance with what is contained in that Constitution in Chapter 7? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR. MNANGAGWA): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I thank the hon. member for asking that question. The Ministry of Justice has a responsibility to make efforts, so that Zimbabwean citizens are fully aware of the contents and substance of our new Constitution. As a result of that, we have so far produced in excess of a quarter of a million copies of the Constitution, in three languages, English, Shona and Ndebele. The Constitution bids us to produce the Constitution in 16 languages. We are in the process of recruiting expert personnel in other 13 languages, so that we also print the Constitution in these other 13 languages.
As from the middle of next month, we have a programme to visit provincial capitals, where we shall distribute the quantities we already have in our custody. All stakeholders from Government institutions, public institutions, private institutions, political parties and so on, are all stakeholders and we are structuring a methodology to make sure that these pillars of society have access to copies of this Constitution.
Besides that, Members of Parliament whom I believe have a wage or salary can always buy copies from the printers. If not, they can also come in the provinces and queue up alongside others, but better still, you can persuade your Chief Whips to persuade me to distribute to you. I thank you.
MR. MAHLANGU: Minister, whilst all these processes are being done, in order to encourage the spirit of devolution, what is Government doing to set up Metropolitan and Provincial Councils? Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, the way you couched your supplementary question tends to be misdirected. It does not arise from the main question.
MR. MADZIMURE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Whilst we acknowledge the efforts the Minister is putting in making sure that people are conscientised, and they know the Constitution; we have seen the Judiciary struggling to interpret some of the laws because they now conflict the Constitution. What efforts are you making to ensure that the alignment of the laws are done much quicker, considering that we have now more than a year after having adopted the new Constitution?
MR. MNANGAGWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, the hon. member says, the Judges have difficulty in interpreting the Constitution. I have no doubt, the Judiciary are fully aware that in the Executive they have a Minister who represents them. They have access to me. I have not received any complaint from the Judiciary, that they have difficulty in interpreting the Constitution. If indeed it is so, my doors are open, so that I hear from them, which areas of the Constitution gives them problems in their interpretation. They are the learned gentlemen we have whose duty is to interpret the laws of this country, including the Constitution. Where there is conflict, they are guided by the existing law and the Constitution as the Supreme law of the country. If an Act of Parliament is in conflict with the Constitution, the Constitution prevails over the Act of Parliament. I am not sure, as to the source his knowledge with regard to this. I have confidence in the Judiciary.
MR. D. P. SIBANDA: Hon. Minister, with regards to awareness of the Constitution that has been asked as an the initial question, how far have you gone in ensuring that State Organs are aware of the provisions of the current Constitution? I am asking this question on the background of what I saw this morning and what I have seen in the previous weeks.
We have seen – in a nation that has got more vendors than anything else where we saw more Police Officers than vendors on the streets; Police Officers barring members of the public from walking along the pavement of the Parliament building; where people were wantonly being beaten. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, hon. member, I thought you had started very well in your supplementary question. Then you proceeded to debate the issue. Can you confine yourself to your supplementary question please?
MR. D.P SIBANDA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I was merely trying to give examples of lack of awareness of State Organs with respect-[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. Is the hon. member refuting the Chair’s ruling? Please ask your supplementary question.
MR. D.P. SIBANDA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for your guidance. My question hon. Minister is that, we have seen State organs continuously disregarding the provisions of the new Constitution. As an example, we have seen people assembling and demonstrating peacefully, being arrested and beaten up by police officers. Does that show that your Ministry has not done well in ensuring that State organs are made aware of the provisions of the new Constitution?
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR. MNANGAGWA): Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. I am grateful that the hon. member has enlightened this House about what is happening outside where he was able to count the number of vendors who were less than the number of policemen.
That statistic is useful in future. With relation to the issue of whether the public institutions like perhaps the Police, the Army and other public institutions have access to the Constitution; indeed, we have already done so. We have already distributed amounts of copies of the Constitution to these relevant institutions but now the copies which are coming, as I have said earlier on, we are now going to the provinces so that the general public as well as other institutions, public and private also have access to the Constitution. In regard to the third aspect of his question on whether these institutions like the Police are aware that they violate provisions of the Constitution of the land where they disperse people, beat people, or things of that nature; whatever the police do, they are guided by the law.
If they go beyond the powers they have, the law and the courts are there to deal with such breaches against the law. The police are not above the law, the army is not above the law and Members of Parliament (MPs) are not above the law. The law is there for every single citizen in the country to obey and if you breach it, then justice will take its course. But I am grateful that he had the opportunity to make statistics between the vendors and the police. I thank you.