Mugabe powers illegal: Lawyers


THE Presidential Powers Act that allows President Robert Mugabe to gazette new laws or even declare war should be repealed immediately as it is unconstitutional under the country’s new Constitution, a lawyer’s think-tank has said.


Three sets of regulations — the Amendment of Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime, Amendment of Criminal Law and Trafficking in Persons Acts — have been gazetted under the contentious Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, but Veritas said they were invalid since the Act is unconstitutional.

Veritas advised Parliament to repeal the Act in line with the new Constitution that puts emphasis on the separation of powers of the executive, legislature and judiciary.

Mugabe signed the new Constitution on May 22 last year to replace the Lancaster House Constitution the country had used since independence in 1980.

“Under Section 3 of the new Constitution, one of the founding principles of Zimbabwe is good governance, which includes ‘observance of the principle of separation of powers’. Separation of powers requires the three main branches of the State to stick to their individual functions and not to encroach on those of the other branches,” Veritas said in a report.

“Giving the president sweeping power to enact regulations on anything which can be covered by an Act of Parliament is a clear violation of the principle of separation of powers, even if the president’s regulations can be revoked by Parliament and expires after six months.

“The Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act does delegate primary law-making power to the president and fails to specify the nature and scope of regulations that may be made under the Act or the principles and standards applicable to them.”

Veritas said for these reasons, the Act was unconstitutional and invalid by virtue of Section 2(1) of the Constitution.

The lawyers’ body said the Act could have remained in force only if it had been preserved as an existing law in the new Constitution.

“The Act has not been preserved as an existing law by paragraph 10 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution because existing laws, if they are to remain in force, must be construed in conformity with the Constitution and it is impossible to construe the Act in that way,” Veritas said.