As Zimbabwe heads for elections set for July or August, the country’s Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi plans to table the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) for ratification by Parliament, in yet another move which underlines President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s commitment to credible elections.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi says he would table the charter when Parliament resumes sitting on May 8, with legislators expected to pass the blueprint.
By ratifying ACDEG, Zimbabwe will voluntarily bind itself to the best practices of democratic governance as only about half of African countries have ratified the charter, which is voluntarily consented to by AU member states.
President Mnangagwa first signed the ACDEG charter during his visit to Rwanda on the sidelines of the launch of African Continent Free Trade Area last month.
As a follow up the signing, Zimbabwe is now set to go the full way in adopting the charter, which has received plaudits because it was propounded by Africans.
In an interview with The Southern Times, Minister Ziyambi said ratification of the charter will ensure implementation of President Mnangagwa's commitment to a credible poll.
“When Parliament resumes sitting on May 8, I am going to table the ACDEG charter before the House for ratification. This shows how Government is going out of its way to ensure that we bind ourselves to providing a free and fair election. We were not obliged to do this before the elections but this is what we have decided to do in line with the objectives of the new dispensation."
Responding to questions from The Southern Times, Toendepi Kamusewu, head of programmes for ActionAid, a non-governmental organisation which has been campaigning for Government to enforce ACDEG, said:
“By signing the ACDEG, President Mnangagwa took a massive leap in the right direction. It was that momentous occasion the leader of a nation communicated to his fellow citizens, Africa and the world at large, that Zimbabwe has evolved.
“The next steps will include getting parliament to endorse his signature of the ACDEG."
He said out of 54 AU States, 55 had signed and ratified the charter so far.
“According to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the African Union members’ states present a mixed grill regarding progress towards universal signature and ratification of the Charter. By the 10th Anniversary of the ACDEG in 2017, 29 states had signed and ratified the charter. Zimbabwe is the latest AU member state to sign, although yet to ratify it.”
Kamusewu said ACDEG not only helps to create an environment for free, fair and credible elections but promotes and strengthens good governance through institutionalisation of transparency, accountability and participatory democracy.
“It promotes servant leadership and peace, while also combating insecurity, instability and violent conflict. It is pan-African, as it seeks to enhance the relevant Declarations and Decisions of the African Union e.g. Declaration on the Political and Socio-Economic situation in Africa and the fundamental changes taking place in the world, the 1995 Cairo Agenda for the Re-Launch of the Africa’s Economic and Social Development, the 1999 Algiers Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government, the 2000 Lomé Declaration, the AU Constitutive Act, to state a few. In addition, the attainment of the ideals of objectives of the Africa Regional Integration and Agenda 2063 (the Africa We Want) will not be possible without the full delivery of the ACDEG,” he said.
Parliament is also expected to debate the Electoral Amendment Bill when it resumes sitting on May 8 after a three-week recess.
Ziyambi has already allayed fears by opposition parties that the proposed changes to the electoral laws might not pass in time for the forthcoming election.