The Sunday News
President Emmerson Mnangagwa will deliver his State of the Nation Address (Sona) when he officially opens the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament on Tuesday.
Rehearsals for the ceremonial pageantry that precedes the official opening of the new session are underway. Clerk of Parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda said all arms of Government have been notified.
“The State of the Nation Address (Sona) will be on the first of October at Parliament building. We have started preparations for the event and as you know, it is an event that brings together all the three arms of Government — Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary — so we have also notified all of them. This Sunday (today), we will have rehearsals for the event,” he said.
“There will be a lot of pomp and funfair. We will have the fly-past by the Air Force of Zimbabwe and ceremonial movement by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) along Nelson Mandela Avenue and so forth. We have engaged all stakeholders and they are busy doing their own preparations,” Mr Chokuda said.
In his Sona, President Mnangagwa is expected to reflect on political, economic and social issues facing the nation. He will also pronounce the Executive’s legislative agenda.
During the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament, which opens on Tuesday, Government intends to fast-track the enactment of legislation that underpins political and economic reforms, including introducing some Constitutional amendments to entrench democracy and personal freedoms.
The new legislation that will be tabled before the august House is informed by recommendations from the Inter-Minister Taskforce that was set up by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in March. According to a schedule of proposed legislative work gleaned by our Harare Bureau, the Constitution is expected to be amended in order to entrench devolution.
There are proposals to extend the women’s quota in Parliament beyond 2023, including scrapping the running mate clause for Presidential elections, which was set to kick in during the next elections. A law to delink the national census from the delimitation exercise, which involves drawing up electoral boundaries, will also be considered.
Further, a new Electoral Act will be tabled for debate in Parliament, while Government will set up an independent mechanism to handle complaints of misconduct by members of the security services in line with Section 210 of the Constitution.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said legislation that supports political and economic reforms will dominate the Executive’s legislative agenda.
“The forthcoming year will be very busy, we will be considering our electoral laws for reform. By 2020 we should have come up with a new Electoral Act that speaks to issues raised by observers and those that will come up from the consultations that we will do. We have given ourselves up to June 2020 to identify provisions in the Electoral Act that may require amendment and we should have the Bill passed by Parliament by 2020.”
Minister Ziyambi said tweaking the supreme law will be done through an omnibus Constitution Amendment Bill. The Constitution obliges the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to draw up new electoral boundaries every 10 years, immediately after a national population census, which is due in 2022. There are fears that the elections management body will not have adequate time to carry out delimitation ahead of the polls.
Laws that seek to deepen personal freedoms, as envisioned by the Second Republic’s reform agenda, will also be tabled.
Government, he added, is satisfied with the legislative work that was done during the just-ended session. Fifteen Bills were tabled and passed, representing half of the laws that were outlined in the legislative agenda.
“This time around, compared to the previous three sessions, we have passed more Bills,” said Minister Ziyambi.
Meanwhile, in what could be a major overhaul of the local voting system, Government will assess the feasibility of introducing diaspora voting to Zimbabweans living in foreign lands.
Current legislation limits voting rights to Zimbabweans who are on official Government assignments.
Any other Zimbabwean living in a foreign land is required to physically present themselves at their registered polling station to cast their vote.
Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said an international study will be commissioned next year.
“We want to commission a study to see how other jurisdictions are implementing the diaspora vote and hopefully we will be done with that by June 2020. Once we have seen how others do it, we will then be able to make a decision on whether we need to amend the law to give effect to it or not.”
Election Resource Centre (ERC) executive director Mr Tawanda Chimhini said Government’s intention to consider introducing the diaspora vote is welcome.