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session of Seventh Parliament ends
August 05, 2009
Houses have adjourned until Tuesday 1st September
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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
for the appointment of an Independent Parliamentary Select Committee
to investigate the prosecutions and conduct of the Attorney-General
in all politically motivated prosecutions”.
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.
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.
of Days that the 1st Session of 7th Parliament Sat
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.
of Session Report
7 Bills passed
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
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.
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.
on the Session
It is to be
hoped that the 2nd Session will be more productive than the 1st.
Committee Work to Continue during Recess
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
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].
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
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.
in the Pipeline
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
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. ..
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.
Communication Technology Bill – still being worked on by the
ICT Ministry as a departmental draft.
– 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
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