By Daniel Chigundu
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has called on line ministries in government to speed up the process of aligning laws with the new constitution adopted in 2013.
Alignment of laws to the constitution has been a very topical issue in the country, especially on areas to do with electoral reforms.
Only a few weeks ago opposition political parties had wanted to demonstrate under the banner of National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA) demanding that government should immediately reform the current electoral laws to be in sync with the constitution.
Speaking in Parliament during the presentation of the 2016 Mid-year fiscal policy review statement, Minister Chinamasa said although some work has been done, time was running out to complete the remaining laws before the year ends.
“As Honourable members will recall, out of the 299 Statutes in our books, government has identified about 200 Statutes requiring alignment.
“Mr Speaker Sir, work on the alignment of laws to the constitution is progressing well.
“In this regard, out of the 200 Statutes identified as requiring alignment, 159 have been completed and processed through this August House, under the General Laws Amendment Bill and other independent Statutes.
“Mr Speaker Sir, realising the target of completing the remaining pieces of legislation during the remainder of the year will require that line ministries accelerate processing timeously respective Statutes that fall within their mandates,” he said.
However, Parliament is currently adjourned to the 4th of October meaning ministries only have about less than three months to complete the alignment process.
According to the Human Right Watch (HRW), the gaps in the country’s laws have resulted in conflicting implementation of legal processes.
For example the new constitution is in conflict with such laws as the Marriages Act, Children’s Act and the Customary Marriages Act on the age of marriage, a development which has been blamed for the numerous cases of early child marriages in the country.
Two child marriage victims Rutendo Tsopodzi and Loveness Mudzuru had to engage the Constitutional Court to help ban child marriages and set 18 years as the legal age of consent.
Despite that ruling, Parliament has delayed in realigning laws to complement the ConCourt judgement.
In an interview Tsopodzi said she is hugely disappointed by the delays, adding that young girls who were supposed to benefit from the judgement are still being married off and being impregnated.
By Daniel Chigundu