On the 27th of March 2019, the Senate passed a resolution approving the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in terms of section 327 of the Constitution, following a similar move by the country’s National Assembly the previous week.
This approval by the country’s bicameral-Parliament clears the way for the Government to complete the process of Zimbabwe’s becoming bound by the Charter under international law.
This process began with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s signing of the Charter at an AU Summit on 21st March last year.
The Charter was due to be approved by the last Parliament however, this was prevented by the early cessation of Parliamentary sittings in June, ahead of the 30th July harmonised elections.
The (approval) was then carried forward to the current parliament after a constitutional watchdog (Veritas Zimbabwe) had lobbied the Speaker and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs so that the approval of the Charter would not be overlooked when the new Parliament came.
By becoming a State Party to the charter, Zimbabwe will have to abide by the charter’s principles, provisions, values, and promotion of free and fair elections, as well as democratic governance.
Apparently, the approval of the charter comes at a time the country’s record regarding democratic principles is not that good. Zimbabwe’s elections have been marred by rampant irregularities, amid vote rigging and uneven political playing field, as well as political violence against opposition parties.
Meanwhile, remaining steps before Zimbabwe Becomes a State Party to the Charter are as follows;
In order to become a State Party to and bound by the Charter, Zimbabwe must now follow up the Parliamentary approval of the Charter by formally ratifying the Charter and depositing the instrument of ratification with the Chairperson of the African Union.
The Instrument of Ratification will be prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. It will then be signed by the President. Finally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will be responsible for the depositing of the Instrument of Ratification, signed by the President, with the AU in Addis Ababa.
Zimbabwe will become a State Party to the Charter – and bound by international law, and the country’s Constitution, to implement its provisions – immediately the Instrument of Ratification is so deposited.