How Our Democracy Works

THE STRUCTURE OF ZIMBABWE GOVERNMENT 2013


The aim of this page is to lay out the structure, roles and functions of Government under the Zimbabwean Constitution of 2013.

The Executive Branch

There is a Cabinet consisting of the President, as head of the Cabinet, the Vice

Presidents and such Ministers as the President may appoint to the Cabinet. Cabinet meetings are presided over by the President or, in his or her absence, by a Vice President or, in their absence, by a Minister. The President is the head-of-state as well as the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces. He/she must be a Zimbabwean citizen by birth or descent, age 40 or above, and reside in Zimbabwe. The President and the Vice-Presidents are directly elected jointly by registered voters throughout Zimbabwe, and the procedure for their election is as prescribed in the Electoral Law. Their functions include assisting to discharge executive responsibilities. The Vice-Presidents and Ministers can be removed by the President or replaced upon death or resignation.

Executive Functions of the President

The President has the powers conferred by the Constitution and by any Act of

Parliament or other law.

The President is responsible for:

  • Assenting to and signing Bills;

  • Referring a Bill to the Constitutional Court for an opinion or advice on its constitutionality;

  • Summoning the National Assembly, the Senate or Parliament to an extraordinary sitting to conduct special business;

  • Making appointments which the Constitution or legislation requires the President to make;

  • Calling for elections in terms of the Constitution;

  • Calling referendums on any matter in accordance with the law;

  • Deploying the Defence Forces;

  • Conferring honours and awards;

  • Appointing ambassadors, plenipotentiaries, and diplomatic and consular

        representatives;
    
  • Receiving and recognising foreign diplomatic and consular representatives.

The Cabinet


The Cabinet is appointed by the President and may not be Members of Parliament. This makes it possible for the Cabinet to be appointed based on their expertise.

The Cabinet is responsible for:

  • Directing the operations of Government;

  • Conducting Government business in Parliament;

  • Preparing, initiating and implementing national legislation;

  • Developing and implementing national policy;

  • Advising the President.

  • Concluding or executing conventions, treaties and agreements with foreign states and governments and international organisations.

In the exercise of his or her executive functions, the President must act on the advice of the Cabinet, except in respect of:

  • Appointment of Vice-Presidents;

  • Appointment or removal of Ministers and Deputy Ministers;

The assignment or reassignment of functions to Vice-Presidents, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and the cancellation of any such assignment or reassignment;

The Legislative Branch

The Legislature of Zimbabwe consists of Parliament and the President acting in accordance with the constitution. Parliament consists of Senate and National Assembly.

(1) The legislative authority of Zimbabwe is derived from the people.

(2) The legislative authority confers on the Legislature the power:

  • To amend the Constitution.

  • To make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Zimbabwe.

  • To confer subordinate legislative powers upon another body or authority Parliament must protect the Constitution and promote democratic governance in Zimbabwe.

Both the Senate and the National Assembly have power to initiate, prepare, consider or reject any legislation.

Parliament has power to ensure that the provisions of the Constitution are upheld and that the State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level act constitutionally and in the national interest.

All institutions and agencies of the State and government at every level are accountable to Parliament. The Cabinet and the Council of Ministers hold legislative power along with the elected Parliament. The Cabinet, overseen by the president, is the policy decision-making body.

Composition of National Assembly

(1) The National Assembly consists of:

210 members elected by secret ballot from the two hundred and ten constituencies into which Zimbabwe is divided.

For the life of the first two Parliaments after the effective date, an additional 60 women members; 6 from each of the 10 provinces into which Zimbabwe is divided,

elected through a system of proportional representation based on the votes cast for candidates representing political parties in a general election.

Elections of members of the National Assembly must be conducted in accordance with the Electoral Law.

Speaker of House Assembly

At its first sitting after a general election, and before proceeding to any other business, the National Assembly must elect a presiding officer to be known as the Speaker. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of Speaker, the National Assembly must without delay elect a person to fill the vacancy.

A person is qualified for election as Speaker if he or she is or has been a Member of the National Assembly or is qualified to be elected to the National Assembly Elections to the office of Speaker must be conducted by the Clerk of Parliament under the supervision of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, by secret ballot in accordance with Standing Orders, and the results must be announced forthwith.

Composition of Senate

The Senate consists of 86 Senators, of whom: 6 are elected from each of the 10 provinces in Zimbabwe by a system of proportional representation. 16 are chiefs, of whom 2 are elected by the provincial assembly of Chiefs from each of the provinces, other than the metropolitan provinces the President and Deputy President of the National Council of Chiefs; and 8 are Provincial Governors, one from each of the provinces, other than the metropolitan provinces. 2 are elected to represent persons with disabilities.

President of Senate

At its first sitting after a general election and before proceeding to any other business, the Senate must elect a presiding officer to be known as the President of the Senate. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of President of the Senate, the Senate must without delay elect a person to fill the vacancy.

A person is qualified for election as President of the Senate if he or she is or has been a Senator or is qualified to be elected to the Senate. Elections to the office of President of the Senate must be conducted by the Clerk of Parliament under the supervision of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, by secret ballot in

accordance with Standing Orders, and the results must be announced forthwith.

General Matters relating to Parliament; Privileges and immunities of Parliament

(1) The President of the Senate, the Speaker and Members of Parliament have freedom of speech in Parliament and in all parliamentary committees and, while they must obey the rules and orders of the House concerned, they are not liable to civil or criminal proceedings, arrest or imprisonment or damages for anything said in, produced before or submitted to Parliament or any of its committees.

(2) An Act of Parliament may;

  • Provide for other privileges, immunities and powers of Parliament and its Members and officers;

  • Define conduct which constitutes contempt of Parliament, whether committed by Members of Parliament or other people;

Provide for a right of reply, through the Speaker or the President of the Senate, as the case may be, for persons who are unjustly injured by what is said about them in Parliament; but no such Act may permit Parliament or its Members or officers to impose any punishment in the nature of a criminal penalty, other than a fine, for breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament.

Duration and dissolution of Parliament

Parliament is elected for a five-year term which runs from the date on which the

President-elect is sworn in and assumes office and Parliament stands dissolved at midnight on the day before the first polling day in the next general election.

The President must by proclamation dissolve Parliament if the Senate and the National Assembly, sitting separately, by the votes of at least two-thirds of the total membership of each House, have passed resolutions to dissolve.

The President may by proclamation dissolve Parliament if the National Assembly has unreasonably refused to pass an Appropriation Bill.

A decision to dissolve Parliament may, on the application of any Member of Parliament, be set aside on review by the Constitutional Court.

An application for the review of a decision to dissolve Parliament must be filed with the Constitutional Court within seven days after the decision was published.

The Constitutional Court must determine the application within fourteen days after it was filed; and pending the Constitutional Court’s determination of the application, the decision to dissolve Parliament is suspended.

Qualifications and disqualifications for election to National Assembly

The Constitution of Zimbabwe has provisions of qualification and disqualifications for anyone who wants to be elected as a Member of the National Assembly.

(1) One is qualified for election as Member of the National Assembly if:

  • Registered as a voter;

  • At least twenty-one years of age;

(2) A person is disqualified for election as a Member of the National Assembly if—

  • He or she is disqualified under the Fourth Schedule for registration as a voter

  • Within five years before the election, he or she vacated a seat in the Senate or the National Assembly in terms through having been convicted of an offence.

(3) A person is disqualified for election at a by-election in the National Assembly if he or she is already a Member of Parliament.

Right to petition Parliament

Every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to petition Parliament to consider any matter within its authority, including the enactment, amendment or repeal of legislation.

The manner in which petitions are to be presented to Parliament, and the action that Parliament is to take on presentation of a petition, must be prescribed in Standing Orders.

Public access to and involvement in Parliament

Parliament must:

  • Facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes and in the processes of its committees.

  • Ensure that interested parties are consulted about Bills being considered by Parliament, unless such consultation is inappropriate or impracticable.

  • Conduct its business in a transparent manner and hold its sittings, and those of its committees, in public, though measures may be taken:

  • To regulate public access, including access of the media, to Parliament and its committees;

  • To exclude the public, including the media, from sittings of committees;

  • To provide for the searching of any person and, where appropriate, the refusal of entry to Parliament or the removal of any person from Parliament but those measures must be fair, reasonable and justifiable in a democratic society based on openness, justice, human dignity, equality and freedom.

Remuneration of President of Senate, Speaker and Members of Parliament

(1) The remuneration of the Speaker and the President of the Senate:

  • Must be prescribed in an Act of Parliament and is a charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund;

  • must not be reduced while they hold office;

  • must continue to be paid to them after a dissolution until they cease to hold office;

(2) The remuneration paid to Members of Parliament must be prescribed under an Act of Parliament;

**Basic values and principles of Leadership

**

  1. All tiers of government, including institutions and agencies of the State, and government, and government-controlled entities and other public enterprises, must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution, including the following principles:

  2. A high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained;

efficient and economical use of resources must be promoted;

  1. Services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias;

people’s needs must be responded to within a reasonable time, and the public must be encouraged to participate in policy-making.

  1. Public administration must be accountable to Parliament and to the people;

institutions and agencies of government at all levels must cooperate with each other.

  1. Transparency must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information.

  2. Good human-resource management and career-development practices, to maximise human potential, must be cultivated.

  3. Public administration must be broadly representative of the diverse communities of Zimbabwe.

  4. Employment, training and advancement practices must be based on merit, ability, objectivity, fairness, the equality of men and women and the inclusion of persons with disabilities;and the State must take measures, including legislative measures, to promote these values and principles.

  5. Appointments to offices in all tiers of government, including government institutions and agencies and government-controlled entities and other public enterprises, must be made primarily on the basis of merit.

The Judiciary Branch

Judicial authority is vested in the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice and the other judges of the Constitutional Court the Supreme Court, the High Court, and subsidiary courts established by an act of Parliament, namely, magistrate courts. Local courts are headed by chiefs and/or headmen, and small claims courts. The President appoints the Chief Justice, who is the head of the judiciary and Supreme and High court judges after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission. Judges are removed from office upon reaching retirement age or for infirmity of mind or body, or bad behaviour. The constitutional retirement age is 65, but a judge in good health may retire at 70.