Zimbabwe: Constitution

Updated January 2008

CONSTITUTION Came into force on 18 April 1980. Amended 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1996, 2000, 2005, 2007. Draft constitution rejected in referendum on 12/13 February 2000 (see Referendum 2000: Results for more details)
FORM OF STATE Republic[1]
HEAD OF STATE The President is Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces[2]. The President must be a Zimbabwean citizen and resident and be at least 40 years old[3]. The President is directly elected by an absolute majority; if the president does not complete the term (dies, resigns or is removed from office) Parliament sits as an electoral college and elects a new president[4]. The tenure of office is five years and is concurrent with that of Parliament; there are no limits on the number of terms that may be served[5]
EXECUTIVE Executive power lies with the President who exercises it directly or through members of the Cabinet[6]. The President may appoint up to two Vice-presidents as well as all the members of the cabinet and may remove them from office[7]. The houses of Parliament, sitting seperately, may pass a motion of no confidence in the government by a two-thirds majority; this may lead to the reconstitution of the cabinet, the resignation of the President or the dissolution of Parliament[8]
LEGISLATURE Legislative power is vested in the President and a bicameral Parliament consisting of the House of Assembly and the Senate[9].
The House of Assembly consists of 210 members elected from single member constituencies by plurality[10]. The term of the National Assembly is 5 years[11].
The Senate 93 members: 60 are elected from single member plurality constituencies, 6 from each of 10 provinces; the 10 provincial governors; the President and Deputy President of the Council of Chiefs; 16 chiefs elected by their peers (two from each of the 8 non-metropolitan provinces) and 5 members appointed by President[12]. The term of the Senate is 5 years[13]
JUDICIARY The judicial system comprises the Supreme Court, the High Court and subordinate courts established by Parliamentary Acts[14]. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal, is headed by the Chief justice, and has at least two other members[15]. The High Court consistes of the Chief Justice, the Judge President and other judges[16]. The members of the Supreme and High Courts are appointed by the President in consultation with the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), but it the advice of the JSC is disregarded the President must inform Parliament[17]. These judges may be removed only for inability to perform their function or for misbehaviour, on the recommendation of a tribunal of senior judicial officers appointed by the President and the JSC, by the President[18]
AMENDMENTS An amendment of the Constitution may be made by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly and the Senate; if the Senate has failed to pass the amendment within 180 days the National Assembly can, by a resolution of two-thirds of its members, submit the amendment to the President for signature[19]
DEMOCRACY PROTECTION AGENCIES The Ombudsman is appointed for a three-year term, renewable once, by the President on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission; the Ombudsman is tasked with investigating cases of administrative malpractice and alleged contravention of the Declaration of Rights by members of the defence forces, police, governmental departments and the prison service[20].

Table notes

[1] Constitution 1980, Article 1.
[2] Constitution 1980, Article 27.
[3] Constitution 1980, Article 28(1).
[4] Constitution 1980, Article 28(2), 58(1); Electoral Act, 112A.
[5] Constitution, 1980, Article 29.
[6] Constitution 1980, Article 31H.
[7] Constitution 1980, Articles 31C(1), 31D(1), 31F(1)(a).
[8] Constitution 1980, Article 31F.
[9] Constitution 1980, Articles 32, 33.
[10] Constitution 1980, Article 38.
[11] Constitution 1980, Article 29.
[12] Constitution 1980, Article 34.
[13] Constitution 1980, Article 29.
[14] Constitution 1980, Article 79(1).
[15] Constitution 1980, Article 80.
[16] Constitution 1980, Article 81(2).
[17] Constitution 1980, Article 84.
[18] Constitution 1980, Article 87.
[19] Constitution 1980, Article 52.
[20] Constitution 1980, Article 107, 108.


CONSTITUTION OF ZIMBABWE 1980, incorporates all amendments until October 2007, [www] http://aceproject.org/ero-en/regions/africa/ZW/zimbabwe-constitution-of- zimbabwe-2008-1 [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 10 Mar 2010).

ELECTORAL ACT (CHAPTER 2:13), incorporates all amendments until 17 March 2008, [www] http://aceproject.org/ero-en/regions/africa/ZW/zimbawe-electoral-act-2008 [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 10 Mar 2010).

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