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planned to settle outstanding issues affecting inclusive government
- Bill Watch 14 / 2009
April 13, 2009
not sit this week. Both Houses are adjourned until 12th May
on Inclusive Government
Cause for Concern: Re-Assignment of an MDC Ministerial Function
to a ZANU-PF Minister
according to the Herald on Friday, has re-assigned the major part
of MDC-T Minister Nelson Chamisa’s Information Communication
Technology portfolio [i.e. Postal and Telecommunications, TelOne,
NetOne, Transmedia, Interception of Communications] to ZANU-PF Minister
Nicolas Goche’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.
response was that he had not been officially informed and that such
a move was illegal and violated the Inter-party
Political Agreement [IPA]. "Mugabe does not have those
powers, those powers in the inclusive government arrangement lie
with the three party principals.” He also pointed out that
“ICT does not make sense if the Communication aspect is removed.”
The Prime Minister’s
response was to declare that this switch of functions was "null
and void". "This not only flies in the face of the letter
and spirit of the Global Political Agreement but is also an illegality."
He added that such "blatant violations of the GPA to suit individuals
were a cause for grave concern as they had the effect of taking
people off the course of national restoration and reconstruction.”
What the IPA/GPA
says about allocating Ministerial portfolios
Under the IPA,
the President, “after consultation with the Vice-Presidents,
the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Ministers, allocates Ministerial
portfolios in accordance with this Agreement” [Constitution,
Schedule 8, IPA Article 20.1.3(l)]. This consultation did not take
Unresolved Interparty Issues
In his address
to the Victoria Falls Retreat on the 3rd April, the Prime Minister
said outstanding issues included, but were not limited to, the following:
- the swearing-in
of provincial governors
- the appointment
of the Reserve Bank Governor and Attorney-General
- the appointment
of permanent secretaries and ambassadors
- the ongoing
land disputes and disruption of agricultural activities [farm
- MDC cadres
and human rights activists facing trial
- reform of
legislation has not yet started
- Deputy Minister
of Agriculture Roy Bennett still not sworn in
- and now the
settling of the affair of the Ministry of Information Communication
The Prime Minister
had said the issues would be resolved at the next government leadership
meeting [of the President, the Vice-Presidents, the Prime Minister
and the Deputy Prime Ministers]. The leadership meetings usually
take place on Mondays, but last week saw the PM attending the funeral
of his grandson, this week was Easter Monday, and now the meeting
is scheduled for Monday the 20th April. In the meantime these unresolved
issues are an obstacle to foreign aid and investment.
Retreat at Victoria Falls
was held so Ministries could formulate an effective 100 day plan
[starting from April 6th] to implement the Short
Term Emergency Recovery Programme. The idea was that the retreat
should come up with clear-cut, performance-based and time-framed
Ministerial roles and responsibilities.
During the retreat
Ministries were grouped into five "clusters" for the purpose
of formulating their actionplans. The clusters are Economic [headed
by Ministry of Finance], Social [headed by Ministry of Local Government],
Rights and Interests [headed by Ministry of Justice], Security [headed
by Ministry of State Security] and Infrastructure [headed by Ministry
of Public Works].
Details of the
visions and specific targets formulated during the retreat have
not yet been officially released. The Minister of State in the Prime
Minister’s Office said it should be ready this week.
As well as the
100-day plan there were also some 30-day time-frames set. Minister
Chinamasa has said that the Rights cluster has made a commitment
to address the plight of prisoners – i.e. that the basic needs
of all prisoners in terms of food, clothing, bedding and health
would be met by the 6th May. He also promised a start to a review
of media policy to encourage "a multiplicity of media houses".
Once the time-frames
emerge from each Ministry it will facilitate monitoring the fulfilment
of the inclusive government’s promises.
on Parliamentary Committees
of Parliament to Prepare the New Constitution
Sunday 12th April the Speaker announced the formation of the Select
Committee, one day ahead of the 13th April deadline fixed by
Article 6 of the IPA [the 13th is exactly two months after the inception
of the new government].
Parliament is not sitting, the newly-appointed House of Assembly
Portfolio Committees will be meeting during the recess. The Portfolio
Committees met on Wednesday and Thursday last week to decide on
their work-plans for the remainder of the current parliamentary
session. Further information about the committees, their members
and chairpersons, clerks and contact details, will be outlined in
the next Bill Watch Special.
of Ministers as Parliamentarians
ministers were sworn in as appointed Senators before Parliament
adjourned: Welshman Ncube [MDC-M], Minister of Industry and Commerce;
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga [MDC-M], Minister of Regional Integration
and International Co-operation; Aguy Georgias [ZANU-PF], Deputy
Minister of Public Works.
without a seat in Parliament
There is now
only one Minister without a seat in Parliament – Gibson Sibanda
[MDC-M], Minister of State for National Healing in Deputy Prime
Minister Mutambara’s Office. Under the Constitution he cannot
hold office for more than three months without a seat. His three
months will be up on the 19th May, so he must become a Senator or
MP before then. MDC-M has no vacant appointed seats available, so
it looks as if Mr Sibanda will have to take his chances in a by-election
– but there is no “safe” MDC-M seat currently
to be filled
There are 3
constituency seats to be filled in the House of Assembly and 3 constituency
seats to be filled in the Senate, all requiring by-elections which
are already several months overdue.
There are also
2 non-constituency seats to be filled by ZANU-PF nominees –
one in the House of Assembly and one in the Senate.
Questions remained unanswered or unsatisfactorily answered by Ministers
when Parliament adjourned. Some raise important issues on which
Portfolio Committees could usefully start work during the recess,
e.g., questions about the Chiadzwa diamond field [environmental
aspects, relocation of inhabitants, alleged killing of illegal panners
by security forces, and mass burials], complaints about Reserve
Bank “plundering” of foreign currency accounts, and
calls for information about the farm mechanisation and agricultural
inputs distribution schemes, and further probes on the allegation
of torture by state agents and conditions in prisons.
is in recess it is hoped that the legislative reform agenda promised
by Government will be actively pursued by Ministers, with a view
to early presentation of Bills to Parliament. So far there are no
indications that drafts are being circulated to stakeholders for
comment or input. But civil society could be taking the initiative
and bombarding Ministries with its own proposals. The Budget, STERP
and all the Prime Minister’s major recent statements have
mentioned the Government’s commitment to reform AIPPA,
Act, etc. Tangible action by Government in this sphere is one
of the benchmarks for resumption of international economic assistance.
Bill, the Appropriation (2009) Bill and the Appropriation (2008)
(Additional) Bill await gazetting as Acts.
instruments include new tariffs of fees for deputy sheriffs and
messengers of court, and a new tariff of court fees for magistrates
courts [SIs 35, 36 and 37/2009], and road toll fees payable at border
posts and on major highways with effect from 17th April [SI 39/2009].
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