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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Inclusive government - Index of articles
  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles


  • Appointments to Constitutional Commissions - Bill Watch 19/2009
    Veritas
    June 09, 2009

    Appointments to Constitutional Commissions

    Parliament has published advertisements in the Press inviting applications from qualified persons who wish to be considered for appointment to the four Independent Constitutional Commissions – the Zimbabwe Media Commission, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission . The advertisements list the functions of each commission and state the qualifications required of candidates. Applicants must submit: a cover letter, a comprehensive CV, a typewritten submission, no more than two A4 pages long, stating why the applicant is a suitable candidate and certified photocopies of proof of professional qualifications. Applications must be addressed to the Clerk of Parliament and either posted or hand-delivered to the Parliament of Zimbabwe, Parliament Building, cnr. Kwame Nkrumah Avenue and Third Street, P.O. Box CY 298, Causeway, Harare, or emailed to clerk@parlzim.gov.zw by Friday 19th June.

    [Not stated in the advertisement is whether the positions are full-time or part-time, but we have been informed by Parliament that at the moment the idea is that all chairpersons will be full-time, and members may be a mix of full-time and part-time. Given the importance of these commissions and the calibre of members needed, and given the policy of trying to attract skilled Zimbabweans abroad back to the country, the notice is very short – the sort of notice usually given for a temporary typist. Also for this type of post, best practice would indicate a call for nominations by stakeholders as well as a call for applications.]

    Media Freedom: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

    The Prime Minister on 23rd May stated that the Media and Information Commission [MIC] no longer existed legally, and that accordingly there was no need for journalists to apply for accreditation until the Zimbabwe Media Commission was duly constituted to take its place.

    The President’s spokesperson Mr Charamba a few days later issued a conflicting statement justifying the maintenance of MIC accreditation requirements, and this was followed up last week by an order from the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity that journalists wishing to cover the COMESA Summit had to have MIC accreditation.

    Four freelance journalists took the matter to court. On Thursday Justice Bharat Patel overruled the Ministry’s order, agreeing with the applicants that MIC was legally extinct, having been abolished in January 2008. He ordered Minister Shamu and his Permanent Secretary Mr Charamba to retract their statements that journalists had to register with MIC to cover COMESA and also ordered them to put notices in the print media, through radio and TV to that effect. He also interdicted them “from making statements” or “attempting in any other way to compel the four and/or any other journalist to accredit to the COMESA Summit or to assume any functions of the Zimbabwe Media Commission [not yet constituted], including the levying of accreditation fees”. The judge said that his order would have effect notwithstanding any State appeal.

    It was promptly announced through the press that the State would appeal against the decision. The Prime Minister expressed surprise at this development, saying that the Attorney-General had given him a legal opinion that “the MIC was defunct.” [In fact the State has not yet appealed.] The journalists took the High Court order to the COMESA secretariat who refused them entry, saying they had to stick to the list of names given to them by the Ministry. The journalists are taking contempt of court proceedings.

    On Friday police picked up Chris Mahove, a journalist with The Worker, while taking photographs of a demonstration by Harare city council workers. The Worker’s editor, Ben Madzimure, was also arrested when he went to the police station to enquire after his colleague. Both were held for some hours, then released after intervention by lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. The police deleted the photographs from the camera.

    COMESA Summit at Victoria Falls

    Only seven heads of State out of nineteen COMESA member States came to the Summit. Their meeting was preceded by meetings of officials and the Council of Ministers. The COMESA Customs Union was launched – but a lot of technical work has to be done before it will be fully effective. The countries of the East African Community are still deliberating whether to join. All Zimbabwean Ministers were instructed to attend the Summit, which seems an unnecessarily extravagant gesture in view of our straitened economy. As COMESA is a trade summit, it would have been sufficient for relevant Ministers and officials to attend. [In fact not all Ministers went.]

    Update on Inclusive Government

    Provincial governors – there has been no further official announcement on the sharing of provincial governorships and when new provincial governors will be appointed.

    Reserve Bank Governor and Attorney-General – this issue, the remaining unsettled “outstanding issue”, has been referred to SADC as guarantor of the Inter-Party Political Agreement [full text of letter to SADC chairman, South African President Jacob Zuma, available on request]. The MDC-T National Conference on 31st May called for an extraordinary SADC Summit to deal with the matter [see resolution below], but the SADC Secretary-General has said there are no present plans for an extraordinary summit. The next regular SADC Summit is not due until August.

    Legislative Reform – no reform Bills have been gazetted, but Minister of Finance Tendai Biti has announced Cabinet approval of a Bill to amend the Reserve Bank Act and also said that his Ministry was working on a Public Finance Bill designed to replace the Audit and Exchequer Act. Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga said that the Council of Ministers had considered a draft legislative agenda circulated by the Prime Minister’s department.

    Prime Minister’s overseas tour – the Prime Minister left on the 6th June on a three-week tour that will include visits to the Netherlands, USA, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, UK and France. This is part of his 100-Day Plan to have Zimbabwe re-admitted as a member of the family of nations and put an end to years of international isolation as an essential step to reviving the country's collapsed economy.

    Acting Prime Minister while Mr Tsvangirai is away is Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

    MDC-T National Conference

    The MDC-T held its 9th Annual National Conference over the weekend 30th-31st May. In his address Mr Tsvangirai claimed progress for the inclusive government but acknowledged that it was necessary to “move faster to ensure the full implementation of the GPA, the rapid progress of a people-driven constitutional process and the return to the rule of law” and that the “outstanding issues, which we have now referred to SADC, must be resolved so that confidence in the GPA is not undermined and it continues to provide a positive transitional framework”. Conference Resolutions included the following on:

    Outstanding IPA issues:

    Noting the reference of GPA outstanding issues to SADC, Conference calls for the immediate convening of an Extra-Ordinary Summit of SADC to urgently deal with the outstanding issues.

    Aware of the conflict and divisive effect of the unresolved issues of the Attorney General and the Reserve Bank Governor Conference calls that in the national interests, Johannes Tomana and Gideon Gono must resign forthwith.

    The Inclusive Government’s performance:

    Whilst acknowledging progress made in some areas by the Transitional Government, Conference calls on the Transitional Government to address the issues of deficit of performance in the following areas:

    i. The absence of any legislative reform agenda

    ii. The slow pace of media reform

    iii. Continued high and multiple tariffs by State bodies and parastatals

    iv. The slow implementation of the Government 100 Day Plan

    v. The continued deployment of the military in villages

    vi. The existence of militia and ‘ghost workers’ on the government payroll

    Update on Parliament

    The Select Committee on the Constitution has almost completed its work plan. Portfolio committees have not met while Parliament has been adjourned. They will resume meeting on Monday 15th June. The Parliamentary Legal Committee has still not met. By-elections – no by-elections have been announced [7 are needed].

    Ex-Minister Gibson Sibanda – Mr. Sibanda, having ceased to be a Minister because he has no seat in Parliament, will not be able to sit in either the House of Assembly or the Senate when Parliament resumes on 16th June.

    MDC-M District Councillors join MDC-T.

    MDC-M's entire district executive and councillors [23] announced they were leaving MDC-M in protest against the suspension of Nkayi South Member of Parliament Abdenico Bhebhe. [Bhebhe is also the party's Matabeleland North provincial chairman.] The party district chairman Jabulani Manqonda Ncube said “the whole constituency and district leadership has crossed the floor to MDC-T led by Prime Minister Tsvangirai."

    Update on Legislation

    Bills

    No new Bills have been gazetted.

    Acts

    The Appropriation (2008) (Additional) Bill [passed by Parliament on 24th March] has still not yet been gazetted as an Act.

    Statutory Instruments

    SI 77/2009, made under the Environmental Management Act, provides for the collection of a levy payable at ports of entry on all hazardous substances and hazardous waste imported into Zimbabwe.

    SI 84/2009 fixes the 15th June as the date of commencement of the Engineering Council Act [replacing SI 65/2009, which was invalid because gazetted late].

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