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holds key to effective 8th parliament
Patrice Makova, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
September 15, 2013
week shifts to the eighth parliament, whose first session is set
to be officially opened on Tuesday with analysts saying the new
Speaker must give adequate opportunities to all parties of the House
to air their views.
Mugabe, who last week appointed his long-awaited cabinet, is expected
to set the ball rolling, outlining some of the Bills which need
to be passed.
old Acts to the new Constitution, which was endorsed in a referendum
four months ago, will be a priority of this first session.
Laws which need
to be aligned include the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA), the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act, the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act, the Civil Evidence Act and the Broadcasting
Police and Prisons Acts also need aligning.
now dominated by Zanu-PF after the party won a two
thirds majority in the July 31 elections. The MDC-T, which had
a slight majority in the previous parliament and was in a coalition
government with Zanu PF for the past four years, has now been relegated
to the backbench.
committee member and former Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission chairperson,
Jacob Mudenda has since been elected as Speaker of the national
assembly, while Edna Madzongwe was retained as President of Senate.
said parliament’s presiding officers - particularly Mudenda
- has a delicate task of balancing the needs of his party while
maintaining the dignity of parliament.
While the few
voices of the opposition are expected to be drowned by those of
Zanu-PF, analysts said the Speaker must be diplomatic, firm and
They said the
Speaker occupied a pivotal position in a democracy and is looked
upon as a guardian of the third arm of the state, the legislature,
which goes along the Executive and the Judiciary.
must be impartial’
Mudenda has to conduct his duties in an impartial manner and protect
the independence of the legislature.
African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST) executive director,
John Makamure said the Speaker has many duties ranging from administration,
judiciary to regulation.
He said while
there were two presiding officers of parliament, the new constitution
now made it clear that the Speaker was the head of the whole institution
in terms of section 135 (1).
in the last parliament, it was not clear who was the overall head
of the whole institution between the Speaker and President of Senate.
is the chairperson of the Standing Rules and Orders Committee (Sroc),
the supreme policy making organ of the parliament.
“He must come up with rules of procedures that allow for a
strong and effective parliament,” said Makamure.
He said Mudenda
must ensure that the public gets access to parliament. Makamure
said this was in line with section 141 of the new Constitution which
now explicitly says the public must have access and be involved
in parliament business.
must now come up with rules stipulating how the public will be involved,”
the Speaker must ensure that parliament enacts good laws, in line
with its primary legislative function.
Ernest Mudzengi said a Speaker played a critical role in guiding
and moderating debate in parliament.
supress a motion in a way, if he wants to,” he said.
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) executive director, Irene Petras
said the Speaker occupied a unique position, with only the President
and his vice higher than him in terms of hierarchy.
his role is to oversee and regulate parliament in terms of debate
that MPs will be making. He must ensure that the process of passing
Bills goes smoothly,” she said.
as chairperson of Sroc, Mudenda would oversee public hearings and
the appointment of members of independent commissions such as ZHRC,
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Zimbabwe Media Commission.
also supervises the Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma.
The Clerk is
the head of Administration and Accounting Office and reports to
the Speaker. But in the last parliament, some MPs were not comfortable
with the long-serving Clerk, who they viewed as too powerful and
intimidating for them.
Last year, he
was saved by the courts after some MDC-T MPs moved a motion for
his removal accusing him of abusing his powers as CEO of the country’s
But it is unlikely
that Zvoma will clash with Mudenda, analysts said. Mudenda will
be responsible for maintaining order, putting questions after debate
and overseeing the voting in the House.
constitution stipulated that in the event of a President dying in
office, the Speaker would be the Head of State in an acting capacity
for three months.
But under the
new Constitution, the first VP now automatically assumes that office
until the next election.
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