By Paul Nyathi|The clerk of parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda has cleared fears that the eighth parliament of Zimbabwe has been dissolved in a situation that would have left President Emmerson Mnangagwa ruling by decree without the legislatures in place.
Chokuda explained in a statement on Tuesday that the two houses have only adjourned to allow members time to go out and campaign.
The Clerk took time to explain the on going situation after wide spread speculations that the houses had dissolved leaving the country in a constitutional crisis that may have seen President Mnangagwa having the sole ability to pass laws and run the country as an individual.
Zimbabwe was exposed to a near rule by decree in 2013 when then President Robert Mugabe remained in office alone after parliament dissolve on June 29 before elections were held in July 31. This was despite an urgent court applications by one Jealousy Mawarire for elections to be held on June 30 to avoid the constitutional crisis.
The full statement provided by parliament reads as follows:
DISSOLUTION OF THE EIGHTH PARLIAMENT AND COMMENCEMENT OF THE NINTH PARL
As Parliament, we have been inundated with enquiries from members of the public asking about the following pertinent issues:
a) when the current Parliament will be dissolved;
b) the status of current Members of Parliament until the day of harmonised elections; and
c) when the new Parliament will commence business.
I, therefore, find it important to share with you, our stakeholders, the following useful information regarding the status of Parliament.
Dissolution of the current Parliament
The Constitution of Zimbabwe outlines the circumstances under which dissolution of Parliament takes place. The three circumstances are as follows:
(a) Where the National Assembly and the Senate, sitting separately, have resolved by two-thirds of the total membership of each House to dissolve (self-propelled dissolution). In this instance, the President is obliged to dissolve Parliament in terms of section 143 (2)
(b) Where the National Assembly, without good cause, refuses to pass the Appropriation Bill which authorises government expenditure, commonly, referred to as the National Budget, the President is obliged to dissolve Parliament in terms of section 143 (3), and
(c) When the life of Parliament, as set forth in section 143 (1) of the Constitution ends by operation of the law (automatic dissolution).
The first two circumstances have not arisen. In this regard, therefore, automatic dissolution applies and does not need the President to take any action as dissolution emanates from the operation of the law as prescribed in section 143 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. For the avoidance of doubt, section 143 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that the life of Parliament runs for a five (5) year term commencing on the date on which the President-elect is sworn in. In this case, the President-elect, at the last elections, was sworn in on 21 August 2013, marking the commencement of the life of the current Parliament. Section 143 must be read in conjunction with section 158 of the Constitution which provides that a general election must be held not more than thirty days before the expiry of the five-year term specified in section 143. In that context, His Excellency, the President by Proclamation set the 30th of July 2018 as the date for the harmonised elections and it follows that Parliament will stand dissolved, by operation of the law, at midnight on Sunday 29th July 2018.
Status of current Members of Parliament
The current Members of Parliament, including those who lost in primary elections held by their respective parties, remain Members of Parliament until midnight, Sunday 29 July 2018. Parliament has only adjourned business to allow Members of Parliament to campaign for the forthcoming elections. Parliament can, however, be recalled or summoned anytime by the President to transact only urgent and unavoidable business which may require Parliament to sit before the harmonised elections.
Commencement of the new Parliament
The first sitting of the new Parliament will, in terms of section 145 (1) of the Constitution be determined by the President. However, this date must not be later than 30 days after the President-elect is sworn in terms of section 94 of the Constitution. It, therefore, means that the new Members of Parliament will be sworn in and Parliament will sit for the first time within 30 days of the taking of the oath of office by the President. The Speaker of the National Assembly and the President of the Senates shall continue to hold office until the election of the new Presiding Officers. However, on a day and time fixed by the Clerk of Parliament, but before the sitting of a New Parliament, elected Members of the National Assembly and the Senate must take oath of a Member of Parliament before the Clerk of Parliament and proceed to elect the respective presiding officers of the two Houses of Parliament.
It is our hope that this has helped in clarifying matters.
Kennedy M. Chokuda
Clerk of Parliament.