Lawson Mabhena in ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
In a major show of commitment to upholding the values of good governance, transparency, democracy and constitutionalism, Zimbabwe acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) at a momentous event here yesterday.
During the event, President Emmerson Mnangagwa made a commitment to complete aligning all national statutes to the Constitution by end of June.
The Independent Complaints Mechanism Bill, which creates an independent and effective complaints mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about the misconduct on the security services, will also be enacted before the end of the year, he said.
Zimbabwe’s accession to APRM during the 29th Summit of the APR Forum of Heads of State and Government here yesterday follows a courtesy visit by APRM chief executive Professor Eddie Maloka on President Mnangagwa in May last year.
In declaring Zimbabwe’s voluntary commitment to the APRM, the President followed through on his word to Prof Maloka that his Government has nothing to hide.
The Summit of the APR Forum is convened annually on the margins of the African Union (AU) Summit to take stock of the African Peer Review Mechanism progress.
It is a voluntary arrangement amongst African states to systematically assess and review governance on the continent.
Ever since assuming power in November 2017, President Mnangagwa has enacted a number of reforms promoting individual freedoms as well as thw ease of doing business.
Treasury has since released over $200 million in funding to six independent commissions, including the National Prosecuting Authority and the Judicial Service Commission, to capacitate the bodies to effectively discharge their constitutional duties.
Laws restricting freedoms are also being repealed under the Second Republic.
Said President Mnangagwa after officially signing to join the APRM: “It is a momentous and historic occasion for the Government, and the people of the Republic of Zimbabwe have acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism which promotes democracy and responsive governance. The APRM forum, in our view, is in consonant with our African philosophy, heritage and traditions of building unity and social cohesion through dialogue.
“This watershed moment demonstrates my administration’s commitment to entrench open, transparent, democracy and good governance.
“Zimbabwe’s decision to join the APRM has been informed by the democratic trajectory which forms the bedrock of the Second Republic since my assumption of office in November 2017. To date, we have already undertaken deliberate and extensive cross-cutting political, economic, legislative and media reforms towards achieving a just, open, accountable and economically prosperous nation.
“These reforms are meant to further enhance and consolidate the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution. We subscribe to the sacrosanct principle of separation of powers and rule of law.”
The reform process, President Mnangagwa explained, could not have been possible without the support of all stakeholders.
“Furthermore, my Government continues to strengthen and build confidence in institutions which support democracy. We have operationalised all six independent commissions provided for in our Constitution, which are the Anti-Corruption Commission, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Media Commission, the Gender Commission, and the Electoral Commission. The alignment of all national statutes and laws to the new Constitution will be completed by the end of the second quarter of this year.
“The importance of the consultative participation of national stakeholders including civil society, the private sector, organised labour, religious communities, women and youth organisations, media and other groups cannot be overemphasised.”
The President said the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) he launched in May last year would go a long way in turning around the economy as well as promoting peace and tolerance.
“In our quest to enhance national cohesion, unity and political tolerance, we have established the Political Actors Dialogue platform, which brings together the various political actors in our country. Zimbabwe is, therefore, ready and committed to undertake remedial steps to address identified gaps to enhance internal and regional political stability, economic growth and sustainable development,” he said.
“To further improve my Government’s responsiveness, an independent Complaints Mechanism Bill, as provided for in Section 210 of our Constitution, will be enacted this year.”
The APR Forum was also addressed by President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad, who was its chairperson, as well as President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who took over the reins.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa also attended the 37th Session of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is a socio-economic flagship programme of the AU.
NEPAD’s four primary objectives are to eradicate poverty, promote sustainable growth and development, integrate Africa in the world economy and accelerate the empowerment of women.
The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) coordinates and executes priority regional and continental development projects to promote regional integration towards the accelerated realisation of Agenda 2063 — Africa’s vision and action plan.
President Macky Sall of Senegal handed over the chair of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC) to President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
This 33rd Ordinary Summit of the AU, which commenced on January 21, will run until tomorrow.
The summit is being held under the African Union’s theme for the year 2020: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions For Africa’s Development”.