Munyaradzi Doma recently in Kadoma
ZIMBABWE’S signing of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance instruments for ratification is a huge milestone for the country which should be celebrated, legislators and civil society organisations have said.
The ACDEG is an international document which helps promote good governance and human rights on the African continent.
The African Union adopted ACDEG in 2007 and it came into force in 2012 after 15 countries signed and ratified and Zimbabwe signed in March 2018 before President Mnangagwa ratified last week.
And following the country’s signing of the ACDEG document, the instruments now await deposition with the African Union Chairperson.
Speaking during a two-day ACDEG progress review meeting in Kadoma last week which was organised by Action Aid Zimbabwe, Makoni South Legislator Misheck Mataranyika who is also the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said this achievement was worth celebrating.
“Firstly it is important to understand that ACDEG it’s a very important charter, one of the most important charters by Africa Union because it embodies the issues like governance, issues like rule of law, issues like alleviation of poverty on the African continent.
“So what it means is that Zimbabwe has decided to be part of the bigger African team, they have committed themselves to ensure that they will speak to the tenets of ACDEG.
“We were waiting for ratification which I’m so excited that its finally been done, I’m told the instruments for ratification were signed yesterday (last Thursday) so what it means is that it now gives us benchmarks in terms of how we run our elections for example, it has to comply with the African Charter, how we practice our democracy it has to be in line with the recommendations of the African Charter and we have to meet certain goals in terms of alleviating poverty from our people as prescribed by the charter.
“So this means quite a lot for us as a country and its a milestone that all independent minds should celebrate,” said Honourable Mataranyika.
He added that after the instruments have been deposited with the African Union, it means the charter is now binding on Zimbabwe but that’s not the end because there is still need for domestication of the charter.
“What it means is that we now have to look at our laws, our different pieces of legislation and see to it that they comply with the charter, for example we can look at our Electoral Act, is it in compliance with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
“Those are the things that we now have to move and I hope the Minister of Justice will move with speed to make sure that we identify all the pieces of legislation that have got anything to do with this charter and the need to be amended so that they are in line with the charter. That process of ensuring that the tenets of the charter are now brought home into our legislation is the process of domestication and that’s the next stage we are going to,” he added.
Similar sentiments were also echoed by Honourable Charles Moyo, acting chairperson of Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Industry and Commerce and also Foreign Affairs and International Trade, who said appending of His Excellency’s signature means a lot in terms of his commitment to what the charter entails.
“He (President) is the number one citizen of the country and 15 to 17 million citizens are excited that the President has done that. What we await now is the domestication and the benefits because what worries our citizens are the benefits.
“If they are going to have water, nice roads, all the nice things enjoying their country without corruption in terms of governance, having uncontested elections, having democracy at play, they will be happy.
“For the people it means that their President is committed to free, fair and credible elections, he is agreeable to good governance which will benefit the country and also democratic practices in the country,” said MP Moyo.
Action Aid Zimbabwe Country Director Joy Mabenge who were instrumental in the popularisation of ACDEG, said the signing of the instruments was a good thing for the country as they strongly believe that it contains so many positives for the nation and the continent at large.
“It’s the journey we have travelled so far, a four-year journey since 2017, the three things we concentrate on, poverty eradication, gender equality and social justice and those are the things that drive us and those are the three things that also saw us wanting to engage on this journey.
“Together with other Action Aid countries that include Action Aid Zambia and others, we all believe that somewhere within ACDEG sits very good things that are very good for our nations, Zimbabwe included.
“If you talk to the President today, he will tell you that him and his government believe in what is sitting in ACDEG,” said Mabenge.
He added that in their journey to popularise ACDEG, they did trainings with civil society, line ministries, parliament and media.
Mabenge added that they realised they could not go on the journey alone, but together with other key stakeholders to popularise the charter.
“We carefully selected on those we would work with, even went to the African Union several times to engage our government representatives there, because this is an African Charter which African leaders have signed up to, it’s really good for our nation, we kept ensuring that we kept each other on board.”
Mabenge added that the last meeting on ACDEG was held in Kariba where 100 participants were trained and now having the document signed was a cause for celebration.
“We were happy to know that the President had signed and now awaiting deposition with the African Union, we said thus far we have come, it is a journey that we have decided to walk together because it is a journey that is good for all of us, we see things together, we have really done well,” he added.