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parl't debates economic bill on Wednesday
MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters
August 21, 2007
will table a proposal in parliament on Wednesday to give majority
control of foreign-owned firms to locals.
The new parliamentary
session will also debate a bill giving President Robert Mugabe room
to pick a successor if he retires.
If passed, the bills
could tighten Mugabe's grip on power as frustrations grow over an
economic crisis and Western powers increase pressure on the 83-year-old
to enact political reforms.
Mugabe's ruling party
has a technical two-thirds majority in parliament, which gives it
room to pass bills without support from the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
Patrick Chinamasa told Reuters on Tuesday that the Indigenisation
and Economic Empowerment Bill would be tabled on Wednesday.
Around 35 foreign-owned
companies, including Barclays Plc and Anglo American, still operate
Company officials have
said many firms present in the country have written off their Zimbabwe
assets because they need to balance the risk of losing further income
against future business prospects if a new government came to power.
Zimbabwe has the world's
highest inflation rate and severe food, fuel and foreign currency
shortages. Critics say Mugabe's controversial policies, including
the seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless
blacks, have destroyed the economy.
Chinamasa could not say
when parliament would consider a Constitutional Amendment Bill which
would allow parliament to pick a president if a vacancy arises between
bill) presentation will be done tomorrow but I have no idea when
the constitutional amendment bill will be ready (for debate),"
said Chinamasa, who is the leader of the House.
Once a bill is introduced
in parliament, it is immediately referred to a legal committee for
scrutiny. This committee then re-introduces the bill for debate.
This five-month legislative
session will be the last before parliamentary and presidential elections
in March when Mugabe is expected to seek another five-year mandate.
If the Constitutional
Amendment Bill is passed, analysts say Mugabe may seek to step
down mid-term after nearly three decades in power and anoint a successor.
The MDC, pressing for
a new constitution, says amending the present one would be a sign
of bad faith because it is already a sticking point in talks between
the opposition and ZANU-PF.
South African President
Thabo Mbeki has been mediating between the two sides. Western diplomats
say there has been little progress.
"With respect to
the constitutional amendment bill... I doubt that could happen today
or this week as ZANU-PF might want to wait for a definite conclusion,
one way or the other, of the ongoing talks," Innocent Gonese,
parliamentary chief whip of MDC, said.
"I would say possibly
next week, but even then, it looks improbable."
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