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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Inclusive government - Index of articles
  • Spotlight on inclusive government: It's not working - Index of articles

  • Meeting planned to settle outstanding issues affecting inclusive government - Bill Watch 14 / 2009
    April 13, 2009

    Parliament did not sit this week. Both Houses are adjourned until 12th May

    Update on Inclusive Government

    Latest Cause for Concern: Re-Assignment of an MDC Ministerial Function to a ZANU-PF Minister

    The President, 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.

    Minister Chamisa’s 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 place.

    Other 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 invasions].

    Other important issues are:

    • 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 Technology.

    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.

    Ministerial Retreat at Victoria Falls

    The retreat 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.

    Update on Parliamentary Committees

    Select Committee of Parliament to Prepare the New Constitution

    On 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].

    Portfolio Committees

    Although 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.

    Parliamentary Update

    Swearing-in of Ministers as Parliamentarians

    The following 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.

    Minister 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 available.

    Vacant seats 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 carried over

    Many Members’ 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.

    Reform of Legislation

    While Parliament 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, POSA, Broadcasting Act, etc. Tangible action by Government in this sphere is one of the benchmarks for resumption of international economic assistance.

    Update on Legislation

    The Finance Bill, the Appropriation (2009) Bill and the Appropriation (2008) (Additional) Bill await gazetting as Acts.

    Recent statutory 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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