The Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) chairperson Honourable Itai Ndudzo has highlighted that his committee issued an Adverse Report on the Death Penalty Abolition Bill because it was seeking to amend provisions of the constitution.
Provisions of the constitution can only be amended through a Constitutional Bill and the Death Penalty Abolition Bill did not indicate that it wanted to amend the constitution.
According to Honourable Ndudzo, the Bill was seeking to amend the provisions of Section 48(2) in particular.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Honourable Ndudzo said if any amendments are to be proposed on the death penalty, it has to be introduced as a Constitutional Amendment Bill
‘’In pursuit of its Constitutional mandate as provided for in Section 152 of the Constitution, the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the 23rd of January, 2023, met to consider the Death Penalty Abolition Bill. After deliberations, it was unanimously resolved that an adverse report be issued in respect of the Bill due to the following considerations; Section 48 subsection (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe stipulates that “A law may permit the death penalty to be imposed only on a person convicted of murder committed in aggravating circumstances”.
‘’The way section 48 (2) is couched allows a law permitting the death penalty to be enacted. Section 2 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that the Constitution is the supreme law of Zimbabwe and any law, practice, custom, and conduct inconsistent with it is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency.
‘’The enactment of the Death Penalty Abolition Bill contravenes Section (2) and Section 48 (2) of the Constitution in that it seeks to abolish what has been permitted by the Constitution. It is inconsistent with the spirit and purpose of Section 48 (2) which is permissive to a death penalty law being enacted.
‘’Section 328 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe defines a Constitutional Bill as a Bill that seeks to amend the Constitution. Subsection (2) further states that an Act of Parliament that amends the Constitution must do so in express terms.
‘’The import of the Death Penalty Abolition Bill in fact, seeks to amend the provisions of the Constitution, in particular Section 48 (2) of the Constitution. The Bill is not a Constitutional Bill as it does not expressly state that it seeks to amend the Constitution.
‘’Therefore, the proposed Bill takes away the permissive intention of the Constitution to have a death penalty and in any case, if any amendment is to be proposed on the death penalty, it is our considered opinion that it has to be introduced as a Constitutional Amendment Bill.
‘’Mr. Chairperson, that is the report of the Parliamentary Legal Committee,’’ he said.