Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe’s magistrates will soon be compelled to take oath of office, if a new law that seeks to align the procedures at the lower courts comes into effect.
The Magistrates’ Court Amendment Bill seeks to align the principal Act with the Constitution including procedures to enforce enjoyment of personal rights and freedoms.
Cabinet approved the principles of the Bill and this was revealed by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa when she presented the 14th Cabinet decision matrix on Tuesday.
The Bill was presented to Cabinet by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.
“The principles seek to align the Act with the Zimbabwe Constitution. The amendments seek, inter alia; to provide that all magistrates take oath of office before the Chief Justice or any other person duly delegated by the Chief Justice; to provide for the right of a litigant to be represented by a legal practitioner of their choice; the inclusion of procedures for the enforcement of the fundamental rights and freedoms of persons and to provide for the composition of magistrates court to adjudicate on criminal and civil matters,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
Contacted for comment yesterday Minister Ziyambi said the approval of the principles were the initial stages for the drafting of the Bill.
“What was approved by Cabinet are the principles that will then guide the Attorney-General’s Office when drafting the Bill.
“The amendments that we are making are minor and seek to align the Act with the Constitution by, for example including provisions that will ensure everyone has access to justice. However, it is too early to talk of the provisions of the Bill because we do not have that at the moment,” he said.
The current Act was promulgated in 1932 and was last amended under the General Laws Amendment Act of 2016.
Government is seized with the alignment of several laws with the Constitution and Parliament is currently debating several Bills that include the Companies and Other Business Entities Bill, Consumer Protection Bill, Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill and the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency Bill.
Other Bills whose principles have been approved by Cabinet include the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill, Cyber Protection, Data Protection and Electronic Transactions Bill, Freedom of Information Bill, Immigration Amendment Bill, Labour Amendment Bill, Protection of Personal Information Bill, Provincial and Metropolitan Councils Bill and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill.