HARARE – Opposition parties have accused President Robert Mugabe of causing more harm than good for his “willy-nilly” use of Statutory Instruments (SIs) which they claim has rendered Parliament ineffective.
A Statutory Instrument is a form of legislation which allows the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act.
Since 2016, Mugabe’s government has passed over 130 SIs.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said for many years now, Zimbabwe has been run like a de facto banana republic.
“The role of Parliament under the Zanu PF dictatorship has been trivialised and trashed. In reality, Parliament has for long been treated as the weakest and least funded of the three arms of the State such as the executive, the judiciary and the legislature.
“This is the main reason why the majority of Zanu PF Cabinet ministers hardly attend Parliament to answer questions from backbenchers. As and when the Zanu PF regime feels like, they simply pass legislation through enacting Statutory Instruments, effectively by-passing Parliament. This is typical of fascist regimes where Parliament is usually treated as a window-dressing institution that, in reality, is very weak and contemptuously treated by the executive arm of the State,” Gutu said.
Welshman Ncube-led MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said that Zanu PF and Mugabe are using dirty tricks to bypass the Parliament through use of SIs.
“The use of Statutory Instruments looks like a well-designed strategy to evade the legislature. This is a dirty way of parking the responsibilities of Parliament.
“The legislature has been robbed of its constitutional mandate by the executive which has resorted to Statutory Instruments to protect its interests,” Chihwayi said.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson Jacob Mafume said in Zimbabwe the laws are fluid, adding that within a short space of time a single piece of legislation can change several times.
“We kept arguing that the ban on imports was premature considering the fact that local industry has no capacity to supply the local market. We urged the government to take an approach of capacitating, incentivising local industry as well as protecting it against unfair competition.
“As usual no one paid attention. As expected prices shot up, prices of basic commodities doubled, trebled or quadrupled in matters of months this albeit aided by a couple of other policy blunders which has not spared the citizen a crisis free day,” he added.
Some of the SIs that have been passed include SI 64 which banned importation of basic goods, the Presidential Powers Temporary Measures) (Amendment of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act and Issue of Bond Notes) Regulations, 2016, Food and Food Standards (Food Fortification) Regulations, 2016, Public Order and Security (Temporary Prohibition of Public Demonstrations in the Central Business District of the Harare Central Police District) Order, 2016 and Control of Goods (Open General Import Licence) (No. 2) (Amendment) Notice, 2016 (No. 8), among a list of other SIs.