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  • Talks, dialogue, negotiations and GNU - Post June 2008 "elections" - Index of articles


  • Controversy rages over allocation of Ministries - Bill Watch 40/2008
    Veritas
    October 11, 2008

    Unilateral ZANU PF action

    In spite of continuing disagreement over the allocation of Ministries between parties, the Government issued a Gazette Extraordinary at about 8pm on Friday night [well after the Government Printer’s normal business hours] containing a General Notice listing the Ministries which Mr Mugabe has allocated to the three parties. Mr Chinamasa released the gazetted notice to the state media, but it is not yet available to the public.

    Mr Mugabe has used section 31D (1)(a) of the Constitution, which authorizes the President to assign functions to Ministries, as if the Power-Sharing Agreement had never been signed.

    The General Notice is not a law – It is no more than an official notification for public information of an allocation of Ministerial functions by Mr Mugabe. That purpose could have been achieved by a press release or any other form of public announcement. The notice is also unprecedented. Never before have Ministries being gazetted without a simultaneous appointment of Ministers to run them. The General Notice does not mean that the distribution of Ministries between the parties cannot be changed. If Mr Mugabe is persuaded to change his mind, the distribution can be changed immediately, with or without further gazetting.

    MDC categorical that no agreement has been reached

    Mr Tsvangirai said on Thursday “there has been no progress made on this entire section as ministries can only be negotiated comprehensively and not individually..….In this regard we have declared a deadlock and therefore the process can not move forward except in the presence of the facilitator.” On Friday Mr Tsvangirai, Mr Mutambara and Mr Mugabe met again but still failed to break the deadlock, and agreed to call in Mr Mbeki. The fact that there is still no agreement was confirmed personally by Mr Tsvangirai today [Saturday] after the publication of the Gazette Extraordinary. The MDC-T spokesman also issued an outraged press release saying they had been “ambushed.”

    Opposing lists of allocated Ministries

    In the Government’s General Notice the key Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, Justice and Legal Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Media, Information and Publicity, Local Government, Mines and Mining Development and Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement , Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment were given to ZANU-PF. The other key Ministry, that of Finance, was stated to be still in dispute. [Electronic version of General Notice available on request.]

    The MDC-T has emphatically rejected the gazetted allocation and published its own very different list, claiming that theirs captures the general understanding during Friday’s deliberations. It allocates some of the same key ministries, such as Home Affairs, Justice and Legal Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Media, Information & Publicity, Local Government, as well as Finance, to MDC-T. [Electronic version of MDC-T list available on request.]

    Mr Mbeki is expected in Harare on Monday 13th October.

    Mr Mbeki has been confirmed as facilitator by SA, SADC and AU. On October 2nd the new South African President, Kgalema Motlanthe, informed the SADC Executive Secretary Dr Salomao that the government of South Africa supports former President Thabo Mbeki's continued role as facilitator. On October 8th the AU and SADC issued a statement reaffirming their support for the continued role of Thabo Mbeki as the SADC mandated mediator and stating that, as guarantors of the implementation of the Agreement, both the AU and SADC will spare no effort in supporting its full and effective implementation.

    Appointments to Executive Posts

    No official announcements of have been made of appointments to Cabinet, or of Vice-Presidents, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

    Provincial Governors

    All 10 of these posts were given to ZANU PF in contravention of the Power-Sharing Agreement and are still the subject of dispute between the parties.

    Parliament

    Senate

    The two sittings were brief – 30 minutes on Tuesday, just over an hour on Wednesday. Apart from a few contributions to the debate on the President's speech, no business was conducted . No move was made to elect the Senate's representatives on the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, in spite of the fact that Senate Standing Order 14 requires this election to be conducted “as soon as possible after the commencement of each Parliament”. [See under Parliamentary Committees.]

    House of Assembly

    There is one item on the order paper [agenda] for the House of Assembly – the debate on the President’s speech delivered at the opening of Parliament on the 26th August. The speech outlined his proposed programme for this Parliamentary session [Electronic version available]. Of course a new government might change the programme or the priorities, which goes to show the absurdity of carrying on as normal when there is no new government. In the absence of movement on the formation of the new Inclusive Government, it is likely that next week's House of Assembly meeting will follow the same pattern, culminating in an early adjournment until a date in November.

    Supplementary Budget getting urgent

    It will soon be necessary for the Government to introduce a Supplementary Budget to obtain Parliamentary confirmation of the special measures that must have been adopted to fund Government operations after the funds voted by Parliament in the last Appropriation Act [passed in December 2007] were exhausted. Under section 103(7) of the Constitution such special measures must cease not later than three months after the opening of the new Parliament. So a supplementary budget and an Additional or Supplementary Appropriation Act will be needed before 26th November.

    Parliamentary Committees

    Committees play an important role in the work of Parliament. The early business of a new Parliament, therefore, must include setting up the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders [CSRO], which in turn appoints the Parliamentary Legal Committee and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees. Some members of CSRO are ex officio or appointed [see below] but others have to be elected by each house sitting separately. This is why it is odd that elections did not take place in the Senate.

    Committee on Standing Rules and Orders [CSRO]

    This is the principal Parliamentary committee [Constitution, section 57(2), House of Assembly Standing Order 14, Senate Standing Order 14]. Each House has to elect a certain number of members to this Committee [see below], and Standing Orders require these elections to be conducted “as soon as possible after the commencement of each Parliament”. The Committee is responsible, inter alia, for determining the size of and selecting the chairpersons and members of all other committees, including the Parliamentary Legal Committee, the Public Accounts Committee and the Portfolio Committees [House of Assembly Standing Order 155, Senate Standing Order 145]. It consists of:

    • the Speaker and the President of the Senate and their deputies
    • members of the House of Assembly appointed by the Speaker
    • Senators appointed by the President of the Senate
    • members elected by the House of Assembly by secret ballot
    • members elected by the Senate by secret ballot

    The number of elected members must be greater than the number of appointed members, and the election of members of this Committee "shall be based, inter alia, on (the) political and gender composition of Parliament" [Standing Order 14].

    Other functions of the CSRO include the appointment of the Clerk of Parliament and other officers of Parliament [Constitution, section 48] and a nominating or consultative role in the appointment of persons to various constitutional and statutory bodies [for example, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Zimbabwe Media Commission] and important public offices [for example, the offices of Public Protector and Deputy Public Protector].

    Parliamentary portfolio committees

    In the last Parliament these Committees were joint Committees of Senators and members of the House of Assembly, but Standing Orders provide for either joint or separate committees as decided by the CSRO. There have been calls for each House to have its own separate portfolio committees, most recently by Senator Coltart in his speech in the Senate on 8th October.

    Election-related court cases

    Election petition appeals update: None of the appeals noted to the Supreme Court has been set down for hearing. Set-down has been delayed pending receipt of the records of the proceedings from the Electoral Court.

    Local authorities

    Court challenge to Minister's appointment of councillors: The Government has lodged notice of its intention to oppose the court proceedings challenging the Minister of Local Government's appointment of nine additional councillors to the Bulawayo City Council. Although under the Urban Councils Act appointed councillors do not have a vote in council decisions, they can take full part in council proceedings and influence them. These appointed seats were supposed to be reserved to represent special interest groups [e.g. the aged, the handicapped, etc.] but the court challenge states appointments have in fact been used to increase ZANU representation.

    Statutory instruments

    No statutory instruments were published in Friday’s regular Government Gazette, but three were published in a Government Gazette Extraordinary published on Friday afternoon:

    SIs 145 and 146/2008 – SI 145 sets new listeners' licence fees with effect from 17th October 2008 and SI 146 provides for new categories and definitions of licences [electronic versions available on request]. Incidentally, these SIs are made by or with the approval of the Minister of Information and Publicity. This post is still being filled by Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu who is no longer eligible to be a Minister. As a non-member of Parliament he was only entitled to continue serving as a Minister until 28th June [3 months after the dissolution of Parliament on 28th March] with an extension until the new Parliament opened on 26th August [Constitution, section 31E].

    SI 147/2008 – this authorises the issue of a $50 000 banknote.

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