CONSTITUTION WATCH 3/2023
[15th November 2023]
Assignment of Functions to President, Vice-Presidents and Ministers
In the past few weeks the President has been assigning functions to his Vice-Presidents and Ministers, as he is empowered to do by sections 99 and 104 of the Constitution. He has also reserved to himself the administration of 14 Acts of Parliament – which again he is allowed to do by section 104 of the Constitution.
Last Friday the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet published a notice in the Gazette [link]which:
· indicates the responsibilities of the two Vice-Presidents
· lists the Cabinet Ministers and their portfolios (some of which are renamed)
· lists the Deputy Ministers and Ministers of State
· lists the Chief Secretaries and secretaries of Ministries, indicating their responsibilities.
The notice is the first of its kind to be published and is a useful innovation since it identifies all the principal officers of the current government in an easily referenced form. Veritas has adapted it so that readers can find the statutes assigned to the President and to each Vice-President and Minister. Our document can be accessed on the Veritas website [link].
In this bulletin we shall comment briefly on some of the assignments.
The Acts Reserved to the President
The President has reserved to himself the administration of the following Acts:
· Anti-Corruption Commission Act
· Commissions of Inquiry Act
· Emergency Powers Act
· Honours and Awards Act
· Interception of Communications Act
· Presidential Pension and Retirement Benefits Act
· Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act
· Presidential Salary and Allowances Act
· Prevention of Corruption Act
· Radiation Protection Act
· Sovereign Wealth Fund Act (now renamed the Mutapa Investment Fund Act)
· Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Act
· Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency Act, and
· Zimbabwe National Security Council Act.
Some of the listed Acts fall clearly within the President’s domain: the Honours and Awards Act, for example, and the Presidential Powers Act, and perhaps the Acts providing for the President’s salary and pension (though shouldn’t they be administered by the Treasury?) One Act seems completely out of place: the Radiation Protection Act, which should fall under the Ministry of Health.
Apart from those Acts, it is a revealing list:
· Anti-corruption: By reserving to himself two Acts which give power to deal with corruption, the President may be signalling the Government’s determination to stamp it out. On the other hand he has administered both Acts since 2018 to little effect.
· Security: Most statutes relating to security, such as the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act, are administered by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage. But by keeping the Emergency Powers Act, the Interception of Communications Act and the Zimbabwe National Security Council Act to himself, the President retains significant control over security matters.
· Economy: The President’s interest in economic matters is well known, but retaining the Mutapa Investment Fund Act and the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Act may amount to over-centralisation. And taking the latter Act under his control is hardly a ringing vote of confidence in the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion.
Acts Reserved to the Vice-Presidents
Vice-President Chiwenga has been given responsibility for “economic sector Ministries”, which presumably means he has a supervisory role over the Ministries concerned – though the Ministries have not been specified. In addition, he is responsible for administering three Acts, the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act, the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act and the Research Act – the last one not really an economic Act.
Vice-President Mohadi is responsible for “social sector Ministries” – whatever they are – and administers the District Development Fund Act and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Act. The latter Act is a curious one to entrust to such a senior person since the Commission no longer exists, having lived out its 10-year lifespan under section 251 of the Constitution.
Acts Assigned to Ministers
The Acts assigned to each Minister can be seen by following the links on the document we mentioned at the beginning of this bulletin.
Two Ministers have no Acts assigned to them:
· the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry (the Tourism Act, for some reason, is assigned to the Minister of Environment, Climate and Wild Life), and
· the Minister of Skills Audit and Development.
No doubt both Ministers will be busying themselves with non-legislative matters.