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rages over allocation of Ministries - Bill Watch 40/2008
October 11, 2008
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.
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.
categorical that no agreement has been reached
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.”
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.
to Executive Posts
announcements of have been made of appointments to Cabinet, or of
Vice-Presidents, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers
and Deputy Ministers.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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].
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].
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.
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.
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.
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
– this authorises the issue of a $50 000 banknote.
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