BILL WATCH 73/2021
[11th November 2021]
African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance
Instrument of Ratification of the Charter Signed by President
Veritas has today been informed by the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that President Mnangagwa has this week signed the Instrument of Ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance [hereinafter called “the Charter”].
Deposit of Instrument of Ratification with AU Now Necessary
Although President Mnangagwa signed the Charter on 21st March 2018 at an AU Summit, his signature alone was not sufficient to make Zimbabwe a “State Party” and as such legally bound by the Charter’s provisions. The Charter’s definition of “State Party” and its Article 47 require the President’s signature on behalf of Zimbabwe to be supplemented by ratification in accordance with Zimbabwe’s constitutional procedures and the deposit of Zimbabwe’s Instrument of Ratification with the Chairperson of the AU Commission.
On the deposit of the Instrument of Ratification – and only then – will Zimbabwe become a full State Party to the Charter.
The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs will now engage the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to have the Instrument of Ratification of the Charter deposited with the Chairperson of the AU Commission in Addis Ababa by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the African Union.
Have Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Procedures Been Fulfilled?
The President’s signature of the Charter in March 2018 was within his constitutional powers [Constitution, section 110(2)]. For signature and deposit of the Instrument of Ratification, however, the approval of Parliament was first necessary [Constitution, section 327]. That approval was given by resolutions passed by both Houses of Parliament in March 2019.
Why it took so long after Parliamentary approval for the Instrument of Ratification to be placed before President Mnangagwa for signature is a mystery. As readers of our various bulletins will know, Veritas has repeatedly, over the past two and a half years, called for the ratification process to be completed.