Complaints law drafting in motion

judge_09Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
GOVERNMENT has started processes leading to the crafting of a law that will set up an independent commission to receive and investigate complaints against the security services, a senior official has said.

The process would be completed before the end of this year.

Acting director in the Attorney General’s Civil Division Mrs Fortune Chimbaru told the Constitutional Court in a matter in which two citizens Mr Hilton Chironga and Mr Rashid Stuart Mahiya are seeking to compel Government to come up with the law, that the process was now in motion and Government was not in breach of the constitution.

The crafting of the Act should be done in fulfilment of Section 210 of the Constitution.

In terms of Section 210 of the Constitution, an Act of Parliament must be passed laying out how complaints against abuse of authority by the police, defence forces, prison officers and State intelligence services should be independently investigated.

Section 210 of the new Constitution of Zimbabwe reads:

“An Act of Parliament must provide an effective and independent mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the security services, and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.”

Mrs Chimbaru said Government had substantially complied with the Constitution, although the process was still to be completed.

“It is submitted that the respondents have taken positive steps to cause the enactment of the contemplated Act of parliament.

“There is in place, a working document of the proposed legislation.

“This is clearly aimed at fulfilling the requirements of Section 210 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” said Mrs Chimbaru.

A copy of a draft document was attached to the response as proof that the process has started.

Mrs Chimbaru said the process involved wide consultation because at least three ministries were involved.

“The process that has been set in motion entails wide consultations and engagement with the relevant security departments and stakeholders,” she said.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, of Defence, of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Intelligence Department all fall under the security services and they all must contribute.

However, the two men’s lawyer, Mr Tendai Biti, pushed for an order declaring Government to be in breach of Constitution by not coming up with the Act since 2013.

Mr Biti said the principles of the law were already codified under Section 210 of the Constitution and that there was no need for much consultation.

He argued that the cited respondents (Justice Minister, Defence Minister, Home Affairs Minister and the Government of Zimbabwe) were in violation of Section 324 of the Constitution and they must be ordered to craft enact the law within 90 days.

Mr Biti said the attached document was a mere internal document in the Ministry of Defence that has not been sent to the AG’s Office or Cabinet.

However, Mrs Chimbaru said Government needed up to end of this year to complete the long process.

She later climbed down on her earlier pledge and asked for six months to finalise the law.

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, sitting with eight other judges heard the matter and reserved judgment.

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