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  • Inclusive government - Index of articles

  • First session of Seventh Parliament ends
    August 05, 2009

    Both Houses have adjourned until Tuesday 1st September

    This signals the end of the 1st Session of the 7th Parliament, although legally it is still necessary for the President to terminate the session and summon the 2nd Session by proclamation in the Government Gazette. The beginning of a new session is usually marked by a Ceremonial Opening of Parliament by the President about a week before Parliament starts sitting.

    Update on Constitutional Commissions Nominations

    12 names have been selected for forwarding to the President for 9 appointments to the Media Commission, and 6 names for 3 appointments to the Broadcasting Authority Board. Unfortunately the method of selection has been disputed, with ZANU-PF calling it unfair. Whether the nominations will stand or be changed remains unclear and the President still has to make his selection.

    Parliament Last Week

    It took both houses a year to complete their debates on the President’s speech opening Parliament, after which they approved the traditional motion of thanks to the President. This quiet, conventional conclusion was in marked contrast to the noisy and disrespectful reception given to the President speech at the time.

    House of Assembly

    Wednesday private members’ question time:

    • The Minister of Defence responded to a long-standing question about the alleged refusal of Defence Force commanders to salute the Prime Minister, by saying there was no legal obligation to salute anyone outside military structures, although civilians could be saluted as a matter of courtesy. The President is saluted as Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces.
    • In response to a question on “ghost workers”, the Minister of the Public Service said a census is being taken of Public Service workers and the report should be given to Cabinet and to Parliament in October.
    • Co-Minister of Home Affairs Giles Mutsekwa, responding to a question on the training of police in human rights issues, said that training had been ongoing even before the GPA was signed on 15th September 2008. He was not pressed to explain whether the training had been modified or improved since the signing of the GPA and the formation of the Inclusive Government.

    Motion passed to investigate politically motivated prosecutions and for an investigation of the conduct of the Attorney General

    After a heated debate, the House on Thursday passed a motion proposed by Tongai Matutu of MDC-T which, after expressing concern about the selective arrest of MDC MPs and activists and the bias of the Attorney General:

    “(i) Unreservedly condemns the unwarranted “convictions” and continuous selective application of the law;

    (ii) Calls for the immediate withdrawal, reversal and quashing of all convictions or pending prosecutions; and

    (iii) Calls for the appointment of an Independent Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate the prosecutions and conduct of the Attorney-General in all politically motivated prosecutions”.


    Motions calling on the Government to scale up HIV/AIDS and maternal health programmes; on the need to harness resources from the Diaspora; and on the need for Government to intervene in the operations of pension funds to alleviate the plight of pensioners, were all passed.

    Unfinished business

    At the close of proceedings on Thursday, there were a still a number of motions and questions on the Order Papers for both Houses that had not been dealt with. These items will lapse when the session is formally terminated by the President’s proclamation – but can be raised again in the new session.

    Number of Days that the 1st Session of 7th Parliament Sat

    The session opened on 26th August last year. Note that a sitting “day” is in fact an afternoon, from 2.15pm to 7pm for the House of Assembly and from 2.30pm to 7pm for the Senate [with provision for both houses to continue late if necessary].

    The House of Assembly met on 41 days and the Senate met on only 28 days. On many occasions the sittings were very brief, sometimes lasting only a few minutes. Very seldom did either House sit after 5 pm – let alone until 7 pm, the time envisaged by Standing Orders for the end of the day’s work.

    End of Session Report

    7 Bills passed

    Constitution Amendment (No. 19); National Security Council; Finance; Appropriation (2008)(Additional); Appropriation (2009); Finance (No. 2); and Appropriation (Supplementary) Bills. [Note: these were all fast-tracked in less than two days each.]

    Portfolio Committees and Thematic Committees

    The House of Assembly Portfolio Committees were not set up until April. The Senate Thematic Committees were only set up in July. The committees have barely started work, and no reports have been issued. Standing Orders provide for new portfolio committees and thematic committees at the beginning of the new session, but as all these committees were only set up recently, it is unlikely that there will be any major changes in the number of committees or their membership.

    Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]

    An ad hoc Parliamentary Legal Committee [in fact this was unconstitutional] was constituted to consider the Constitution Amendment No. 19 Bill and the National Security Council Bill in February. The PLC was set up on March 30th and will last for the life of this Parliament. It has met only to consider and report on Bills – the Finance, Appropriation (2008)(Additional), Appropriation (2009), Finance (No. 2) and Appropriation (Supplementary) Bills. It has still not fulfilled its constitutional duty to consider and report on the accumulated backlog of 2008 and 2009 statutory instruments awaiting its attention. Under Standing Orders the PLC should report on each month’s gazetted statutory instruments by not later than the 26th of the following month.

    Verdict on the Session

    It is to be hoped that the 2nd Session will be more productive than the 1st.

    Parliamentary Committee Work to Continue during Recess

    Portfolio committee and thematic committee will continue meeting although the Houses are not sitting. Notices of meeting open to the public will be sent out by Veritas

    Update on Legislation

    Bills passed by Parliament but not yet gazetted as Acts

    There are 3 Bills in this category: Appropriation (2008)(Additional) Bill [passed in late March]; Finance (No. 2) Bill and Appropriation (Supplementary) Bill [passed 23rd July]. These Bills have not yet been submitted to the President for his assent. Clause 16 of the Finance (No. 2) Bill provides for “dollarisation”, making the British pound, the euro, US dollar, SA rand and Botswana pula legal tender in Zimbabwe [backdated to 1st February].

    Statutory Instruments

    SI 120/2009 provides for customs and excise duty changes announced by the Minister of Finance in the Fiscal Policy Review [all effective 1st August]. These include zero duty on imported newspapers, computers and cell phones.

    SI 122/2009 specifies the road tolls to be paid at tolling points on trunk roads [effective 8th August]. The tolls range from US$1 for light motor-vehicles to US$5 for haulage trucks.

    Bills in the Pipeline

    Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill – not yet gazetted; the printing process has reached page-proof stage.

    Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill – the Permanent Secretary for Mines and Mining Development has announced the withdrawal of this Bill to permit further consideration and consultation with all stakeholders. He explained that any new Bill would be drafted to make it more conducive to foreign investment. The withdrawn Bill’s indigenisation provisions had attracted adverse reaction from existing and potential investors.

    Labour Amendment Bill – the Minister of Labour and Social Services has said her Ministry is preparing a Bill to give full labour rights to public servants, including the right to strike. ..

    Elderly Persons Bill – the Minister of Labour and Social Services said during the week that this Bill is being worked on by her Ministry. A Bill on this subject was mentioned when Parliament was opened in August 2007 [“Old Persons Bill”] and in August 2008 [“Older Persons Bill”] – but has never reached Parliament. Perhaps the new Minister will be able to translate this talk into action.

    Information Communication Technology Bill – still being worked on by the ICT Ministry as a departmental draft.

    AIPPA and POSA – there is still no sign of Bills to amend these Acts or of Bills for any of the other reform legislation mentioned in the GPA and STERP.

    *Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.

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