The petition Process
Petitioning Parliament is one of the ways that citizens can engage Parliament and this is provided for in section 149 of the Constitution.
What is a Petition?
A petition is a formal request, signed by one or more individuals appealing to authority for intervention in respect of a particular cause.
Under the laws of Zimbabwe, a parliamentary petition can thus be defined as a formal request by a citizen or permanent resident addressed to Parliament for something to be done or for a certain action to be carried out.
What does the Constitution say about petitioning Parliament?
The right to petition is created by Section 149 (Right to petition Parliament) of the Constitution. The Section provides:
(1) 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.
(2) The manner in which petitions are to be presented to Parliament, and the action that Parliament is to take on the presentation of a petition, must be prescribed in Standing Orders.
Who Can Petition Parliament?
Citizens and Permanent residents of Zimbabwe may petition Parliament as individuals, groups of individuals, or juristic persons, that is, companies, organisations or other forms of legal persons recognised by law.
Form of petition
The petition must be in writing – handwritten, printed or typed – and signed and can be in any officially recognised language in the Constitution. Oral petitions are inadmissible.
Neither the Standing Rules of the Senate or National Assembly prescribe a strict form in which petitioners may formulate their petitions.
This gives some flexibility and also ensures that the use of petitions is not restricted to those that can draft legal documents, such as lawyers. The process is thus inclusive and open
Procedure for presenting the petition
The petitioner can submit a petition document to the Clerk of Parliament, who will, in turn, peruse the document to determine its admissibility, i.e. for compliance with the Constitution, the law and the Standing Orders.
A petition may be lodged with the Clerk of Parliament at any time when the office of the Clerk is open and Parliament is not dissolved. In essence, when Parliament is dissolved, there is no Parliament to speak of as opposed to when Parliament is taking a break, in which case Parliament is said to be adjourned.
There are no elected representatives to whom a petition may be referred for consideration.
What to do after a petition is lodged
A good practice is for petitioners to follow up on their petitions after lodging. The petition process is not foolproof. A petition may be misplaced. Timelines may be missed. A prudent petitioner will follow up on the progress made on their petition.
This is done through the office of the Clerk of Parliament whose contacts are given above. Petitions to Parliament can be addressed to the Clerk of Parliament on the following details:
Clerk of Parliament Contact
Clerk of Parliament:
Parliament of Zimbabwe,
Kwame Nkrumah Avenue/Third Street,
P.O. Box CY 298,
Email: [email protected]