Ministers snub meetings on alignment of laws

Government ministers are holding back the process of aligning existing laws with the new constitution by snubbing meetings and failing to send representatives in cases where they will be busy.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana
Attorney General Johannes Tomana

Virginia Mabhiza, the permanent secretary in the justice ministry, made the revelations at a strategic review workshop here last week. It was attended by judicial service officials led by Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

In 2014, the ministry successfully spearheaded the formation of the inter-ministerial taskforce on the alignment of laws, which seeks to attend to the business of the alignment of laws to the new constitution … but efforts to attain the participation of all ministries have not been successful,” said Mabhiza, who was previously with the Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs ministry before being re-assigned to her new portfolio at the end of 2013.

She said the snubbing of the meetings by the ministers or their representatives was the reason for the lengthy delay in wrapping up the exercise – more than two years after the new constitution became operational. Opposition parties and civic society organisations have voiced concern over the delays that have seen hordes of people being harassed and arrested on the basis of the old laws.

“It is worrisome that the alignment process been delayed so long,” said Mabhiza . She reiterated that plans must be put in place to deal with the challenge to ensure that “2015 proves to be a more fruitful year in this respect.”

There are 280 pieces of legislation that needed realignment in order to guarantee various freedoms and ensure major reforms on key matters. They include the recently promulgated Electoral Amendment Act, the General Laws Amendment Bill, the Gender Commission Bill, the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill, the Land Commission Bill, and the National Prosecution Authority Bill which have all been passed into law by parliament.

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Post published in: Human Rights

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