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

  • Constitution Amendment 19 Bill Gazetted - Bill Watch Special
    December 13, 2008

    The Constitution Amendment No. 19 Bill was gazetted late yesterday [Friday 12th December] in a Government Gazette Extraordinary.

    ZANU-PF gave the go-ahead for the Bill to be gazetted. Mr Chinamasa, the principal negotiator for ZANU-PF, announced to the State press that "The gazetting of the amendment is a clarion call to all political parties to demonstrate their commitment in letter and spirit to the inter-party political agreement.” He emphasised that all the negotiators had initialled it, but failed to state whether all the parties had given the go-ahead for its gazetting.
    MDC-M – Mr Mutambara on Thursday after his meeting with the SADC Facilitation team [see below] stated “I told them that Amendment No 19 should be gazetted immediately.”

    MDC-T held a National Council Meeting yesterday [12 December] in Kadoma and the Council Resolutions were issued yesterday evening and reiterated in Resolution 5 that the MDC-T will not be part of a government of national unity unless and until there is an amicable settlement on the outstanding issues of:

    a. Equitability and fairness in the allocation of ministerial portfolios and Provincial Governors
    b. The constitution and composition of the National Security Council
    c. The enactment of Constitutional Amendment No. 19.

    It remains to be seen whether these issues can be resolved before the Bill is tabled in Parliament, or whether, even if they are not, the MDC will in fact support the Amendment in Parliament.

    The Bill would have to be supported by all parties to pass through Parliament.

    Parliamentary Timeframe for the Bill

    30 days must now elapse before the Bill can be introduced in Parliament. This makes Tuesday 13th January the earliest possible day for the introduction of the Bill. It could be introduced in either House.

    If all parties have agreed, it would take two weeks at the most for the Bill to be debated and passed through both Houses. This would make it possible for the Bill to be assented to by Mr Mugabe and gazetted as an Act at the end of January or in early February.

    If there is still disagreement among parties, the Bill could be blocked in Parliament. It must receive the affirmative votes of at least two-thirds of the total membership of each House [i.e. at least 140 votes in the House of Assembly and at least 62 in the Senate].

    In the House of Assembly, the MDC-T has 99 seats out of 210 seats, comfortably more than required to block a Constitutional Bill

    In the Senate, the situation is not so clear-cut, but being able to block the Bill in the House of Assembly is sufficient. If it is introduced in the House of Assembly first and blocked, the Bill would not even be referred to the Senate. If is introduced in and passed by the Senate, it then has to go the House of Assembly and could be blocked there.

    If the Bill is Blocked in Parliament? New Elections

    Mr Chinamasa in the State newspaper today was quoted as saying “If no support [from MDC-T] is forthcoming, it means that Amendment No. 19 Bill will be a dead matter. In the event that the collaboration that we envisage is not forthcoming, then that will necessitate fresh harmonised elections at some point in time.”… “The current Constitution requires that we hold harmonised elections and so we will have to go back to the people to elect councillors, House of Assembly representatives, Senators and a President."

    Earlier this week, President Mugabe, in his speech at Elliot Manyika’s funeral at Hero’s Acre, hinted at the possibility of fresh elections should the agreement fail to get off the ground.

    SADC Facilitation Team in Harare this Week

    The SA facilitation team led by Mr Sydney Mufamadi arrived in Harare on Wednesday. The Facilitator himself, Mr Mbeki, did not come. The team said that the main objective of their visit was to get the parties to agree on the immediate gazetting of the Constitution Amendment No. 19 Bill. The team met representatives from the parties over the last three days. ZANU-PF and MDC-M were agreeable to the gazetting of the Bill. MDC-T report that they insisted that, before continuing the discussion on the Bill, the issue of the escalating violence and political abductions be discussed, and this proved a sticking point in their discussions. There has been no official statement from the Facilitation team.

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