COUNSEL TO PARLIAMENT’S OFFICE
“The office of Counsel to Parliament is responsible for providing legal services to the institution of Parliament. These services include provision of legal advice, managing meetings of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, litigation management and maintenance of an updated version of Statutes and Statutory Instruments. The directorate is headed by Counsel, assisted by Assistant Counsel and two Principal Law Officers. The office of Counsel is located in the Third Floor room 305 and 306.”.
To provide professional legal services to the institution of Parliament.
WHAT LEGAL SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE FROM COUNSEL’S OFFICE
Counsel to Parliament provides legal advice to the Presiding Officers, Members of Parliament and Committees of Parliament and the Administration of Parliament on various issues affecting the operations of the institution.
During debate at the second reading stage of the legislative process, Members of Parliament are allowed to introduce proposed amendments to a bill. Such proposed amendments must be in the proper legislative format. The office of Counsel is available to assist members in the drafting and correct formatting of such amendments. It is also the responsibility of Counsel to assist members in the drafting of private members’ bills.
Serving the Parliamentary Legal Committee
Counsel to Parliament is the officer who provides secretariat services to the Parliamentary Legal Committee. The Parliamentary Legal Committee is provided for under section 152 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Its mandate is derived from the Constitution and Standing Orders which is basically to scrutinize the constitutionality of proposed legislation, both primary and subsidiary and reports accordingly to Parliament. The terms of reference as specified in the Constitution and Standing Orders are in summary;
- to examine and scrutinize all bills and statutory instruments that are published in the Government Gazette and report to the House on the constitutionality of the bills;
- in the case of statutory instruments, to examine on whether or not the statutory instrument contains provisions that are ultra-vires the enabling legislation;
- calling for the correction of errors in any statutory instrument or bills;
- consideration of all petitions including petitions praying for pension, grants, gratuities or other benefits which are not authorized by law but which are in respect of services rendered to the State;
- reviewing of existing laws in consultation with the Law Development Commission.
The work of the Committee contributes immensely to the passage bills and plays an advisory role to Parliament. The Declaration of Rights in the Constitution is meant to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the individual. It is the duty of the Committee as a “constitutional watchdog” to bring to the attention of Parliament any provisions in proposed legislation which might prevent the enjoyment of these rights.
Updating of Legislation
The department is responsible for updating legislation as it is amended from time to time. Honourable Members and any stakeholders may be able to access up to date versions of Acts and Statutory Instruments from the office of Counsel.