The appointment of Justice Rita Makarau as Chairperson of Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission in March 2013, violated the constitution in force at the time and thus was invalid. Her continuation in office remains unconstitutional and must be regularised. The appointment of two other commissioners is also constitutionally questionable. This paper sets out the reason why.

With the recent swearing-in of Zimbabwe’s Gender Commissioners, RAU revisits some of the criticisms raised by civil society about the Commission - and adds some of its own. 

With the spotlight once again focused on child marriage, the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) presents research on Marriage Laws and the mandated age of consent in The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region.
Attention was brought to the issue of child marriage with President Mugabe taking the lead. During his address to child parliamentarians, President Mugabe said child marriage causes irreparable damage to girls and denies them the right to personal development and to education.
A few weeks after this address,  the Zimbabwe National Council of Chiefs issued a communiqué with Plan Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, pledging their commitment to  the ongoing 18+ Ending Child Marriages Campaign.  The 40-member chiefs’ body stated that it  would take the lead role in interventions aimed at ending early marriages.
Addressing stakeholders at the Zimbabwean launch of the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage on 31 July 2015, Ms. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the AU Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage in Africa, said:  “We have a crisis on our hands. The UN estimates that 15 million girls experience child marriage each year. That is more than the entire population of Zimbabwe. We must move from vulnerability to voice and leadership. Africa is young and full of innovation. This energy must be harnessed to ensure that we have lasting solutions".
The AU Campaign to End Child Marriage was initially launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. It aims at ending child marriage by:

  • supporting legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights;
  • mobilizing continental awareness of the negative socio-economic impact of child marriage;
  • building social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and
  • increasing the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy and harness youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation among others.

More than two years after the promulgation of the new Zimbabwe Constitution neither the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission is in place nor has the enabling legislation for the operation of the Commission been passed by Parliament. Furthermore, there has been no extensive public discussion about the possible NPRC Bill or the composition of the Commission.
The extensive gross human rights violations of the past four decades is a matter of considerable concern to the citizens of Zimbabwe, and, furthermore, the necessity of dealing with the past is clearly an issue that has a material effect on the governance of the country currently.
This report examines the critical issues around the establishment of a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.


This study focuses on the first year of the Eighth Parliament running from September 2013-October 2014. It specifically focuses on the attendance of members of parliament (MPs) during the First Session of the Eighth Parliament. Among other things it looks at how each MP attended Plenary Sessions, how Ministers fared in attending Question and Answer Sessions, and whether the cost of maintaining Parliament was commensurate with the trends of attendance as displayed by the different MPs. The main objective of this project since 2013 has been to establish whether Parliamentarians take the business of Parliament seriously, the first of which is to attend, as far as possible, all sessions of Parliament. It further aims to determine whether Parliament is serving its role as the watchdog of the Executive.

The work of Parliamentarians is only partly about being in the House of Assembly and providing both their legislative and oversight functions and communicate with their constituencies. This  present report - a pilot study was conducted with women in Zimbabwe, to explore their views and perception on the overall work and performance that Parliamentarians undertake on their behalf in Parliament.

This paper suggests that it is hypocritical to claim that Biblical injunctions against homosexuality in Leviticus and deduced from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah are part of the the eternal and immutable word of the Lord, and then to revert to dispositionalism and temporal relativism when it comes to Biblical prescripts in relation to sex, sexuality and gender - particularly in regard to child marriage. The same approach is paralleled in regard to "traditional African culture".

Ahead of the crucial ZANU PF Congress of December 2014, RAU, together with the Zimbabwe NGO Forum, published The Mortal Remains: Succession and the ZANU PF Body Politic a paper which examined the issue of succession to President Robert Mugabe, viewed against both the State and ZANU PF Party Constitutions. That paper considered the ZANU PF Congresses of 1999, 2004 and 2009 in some detail. It is thus appropriate, given the importance of the 2014 Congress to the dynamics of succession and the ZANU PF body politic, that the paper be supplemented by this lengthy addendum, even if the issue has already been widely commented upon.

The essay details the drama around ZANU PF’s 6th National Congress, intending to bring together the many reports about the saga, and the often multifaceted and simultaneous events, into one continuous narrative, only fully coherent in retrospect.
Derek Matyszak RAU 15.07.15


This report was first published in January 2013. Due to its relevance to recent public debates, it has now been reissued.
In February 2012, Zimbabwe was reviewed by the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Committee) in line with the state’s obligations under CEDAW. Among the many recommendations that the Committee made were specific points relating to the issue of marriages in Zimbabwe. The Committee noted the prevalence of child marriages as one of the biggest challenges to girls' access to education. The Committee also expressed its concern with the continued discrimination against women by customary laws and practices in relation to divorce/separation, inheritance and property rights, and noted that the continued existence of a variety of marriage laws which give different rights to men and women, in particular that the practice of polygamy and lobola, continue to discriminate against women.  
However, despite the release of a White Paper addressing these issues in 2004, today - eight years later - no fundamental changes can be seen in the marriage system. Although the Attorney-General’s office (the AG’s office) announced in the latter half of 2011 that it was now harmonising the marriage laws, the process has dragged on. Consequently, women continue to fall headlong into the gaping hole that is the chaotic marriage system in Zimbabwe.
In the months of January and February 2012, RAU facilitated eleven focus group discussions with a representative sample of 160 women from nine different provinces in Zimbabwe. It was agreed that research should be conducted to determine the views of the women regarding marriage certificates and marriages in Zimbabwe. Those views are captured in this report, highlighting the need to raise awareness so that all women understand the different types of marriages available, as well as the consequences that each marriage type represents in their lives. The women’s views flag the urgent need for reforms to the marriage system in Zimbabwe to be expedited with such swiftness as to reflect the urgency of the situation, bearing in mind the dire consequences that the current system has on women and children every single day.
Rumbidzai Dube, Senior Researcher RAU, January 2013. 

On 1st July 2015 the Constitutional Court declared that Emmerson Mnangagwa did not hold the posts of Vice-President and Minister of Justice simultaneously as he had not in fact been appointed to the latter post - he had merely been assigned to administer it. The ruling was in the face of abundance evidence suggesting that Mnangagwa either had been appointed as Minister of Justice or was simply regarded by Mugabe as continuing in this post. Justice Malaba was certainly right in believing that Mnangagwa could not simply continue as Justice Minister. On appointment as Vice-President, by virtue of the Constitution, the person so appointed immediately loses his or her seat in Parliament - and all Ministers must hold a seat in Parliament, unless they are one of five Ministers the President may appoint from outside Parliament. Mnangagwa could not constitutionally be one of these five as at the time he became Vice-President all these slots were filled. In declaring that Mnangagwa is not a Minister, constitutionalism has been restored to the extend it may have been necessary. One problem remains, however. Mugabe has proceeded as if Mnangagwa was the Minister of Justice and some 96 important pieces of legislation remain, in terms of S.I 23 of 2014, assigned to a non-existent Minister of Justice. This position needs to be rectified and the administration of the Acts assigned to the Vice President, as is permitted by the Constitution as read with the Interpretation Act.