|MDC formations introduce amendments to human rights Bill|
|Friday, 23 March 2012 00:00|
THE two MDC formations have connived to introduce new amendments to the Human Rights Commission Bill in an attempt to frustrate the progress made so far, a Cabinet Minister has said. Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday said the parties to the Global Political Agreement had reached an agreement on the Bill following protracted negotiations running for two years.
He said the two MDC formations, however, were now backtracking.
This was after the Minister tabled the Bill before Cabinet and it was referred back to the negotiators to address contentious issues.
Minister Chinamasa was giving oral evidence before a Senate Thematic Committee on Human Rights.
The committee wanted the Minister to update them on the Bill.
Zaka Senator Misheck Marava (MDC-T) who chairs the committee also wanted Minister Chinamasa to update them on the domestication of international conventions.
Zanu-PF has since taken a position that it will not debate any proposed amendments because Parliament as currently constituted has no jurisdiction to vary any Bill that is a product of the GPA.
“It took us 18 moths of quarrelling over every line that had to go into the Bill. Eventually we secured consensus, brought it to Cabinet.
“When we brought it to Parliament, one of the political parties started singing a completely different tune. I really feel undermined, we negotiated line by line and agreed but one partner is now backtracking,” said Minister Chinamasa without mentioning the political party by name.
“I felt bad; it was not being undermined by MPs but by the leadership. The same thing with the Electoral Amendment Bill, I have never worked so hard to put these laws together only to find all that is being dissipated by one or two irresponsible statements.”
The Human Rights Commission Bill and Electoral Amendment Bill have since been restored on the Order Paper of the House of Assembly after they were superseded by the prorogation of the Third Session of the Seventh Parliament.
During the second reading stage, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Affairs chaired by Nyanga North MP, Mr Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) raised reservations on some provisions of the Human Rights Commission Bill.
The committee submitted that the Bill conferred excessive powers on the responsible Minister.
It urged the House to limit powers, among other reservations.
On domestication of international conventions, Minister Chinamasa said Zimbabwe was one of the few countries that had domesticated laws particularly on elections.
“We feel very proud on domestication, the practice might be different on the ground because of resources,” he said.