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Amendment 19 Bill Gazetted - Bill Watch Special
December 13, 2008
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.”
a National Council Meeting yesterday [12 December] in Kadoma and
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:
and fairness in the allocation of ministerial portfolios and Provincial
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
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."
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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