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Commission update – Bill Watch 28/2009
August 17, 2009
of Parliament are in recess until Tuesday 1st September
on Constitutional Commissions Nominations
Media Commission [ZMC]
to this Commission are on the agenda for this afternoon’s
meeting between the President and the Prime Minister. In terms of
the Constitution the President must make all key appointments in
consultation with [defined as meaning with the agreement of] the
Prime Minister [Constitution, Eighth Schedule, GPA
Article 20.1.3(p)]. Interviews for this commission were held by
Parliament’s Committee on Standing Rules and Orders [CSRO]
two weeks ago on 3rd August and 12 candidates were selected. Notwithstanding
some objections from ZANU-PF, Parliament submitted the CSRO’s
list of 12 nominees to the President, who in terms of the Constitution
must now appoint the chairman and 8 eight other members of the Commission
from that list. Because of ZANU-PF objections the matter was revisited
by the CSRO at a meeting this morning which concluded that the list
submitted to the President for the ZMC should stand.
It is hoped
that the matter will be concluded expeditiously without further
objections and obstacles, as there can be no registration of new
media outlets under present legislation until the Commission is
Authority of Zimbabwe Board
The Clerk of
Parliament has said that 6 CSRO nominees have also been submitted
to the President for him to make 3 appointments to the BAZ Board.
The CSRO decided at the last minute before the ZMC interviews to
use the ZMC short-list for BAZ nominees also. This procedure has
also been objected to, on more understandable grounds. The Media
Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter, a group advocating
media freedoms, has pointed out that Parliament’s advertisements
called only for applicants for appointment to the ZMC and the three
other constitutional commissions. The possibility of nomination
for appointment to the statutory BAZ Board was not mentioned in
the advertisements. As a result, qualified persons interested in
being on the BAZ Board may not have applied. Nevertheless, the CSRO
decided at this morning’s meeting that the list as sent to
the President will stand. These appointments will also be on the
agenda for this afternoon’s meeting between the President
and the Prime Minister.
Other Three Constitutional Commissions
No dates have
been set for interviewing candidates for the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe
Anti-Corruption Commission. The CSRO this morning decided on some
modification of the procedure used to arrive at the ZMC nominations.
It will identify three new teams of experts to do the short-listing
of applicants for these three commissions. The experts will have
to justify their shortlisting to the full CSRO. At the interviews
the experts will still be responsible for scoring the interviewees,
but the final decision on the lists of nominees will rest with the
full CSRO. The Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission will be dealt with first, followed later by the Zimbabwe
of Select Committee to Investigate AG's Conduct of Prosecutions
House of Assembly’s adoption on 30th July of the MDC-T resolution
calling for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate
the conduct of the Attorney-General in all politically-motivated
prosecutions, the next step is for the CSRO to appoint the members
of the Select Committee. As with all Parliamentary committees the
membership will reflect the political composition of the House.
The matter was not on the agenda for today’s CSRO meeting,
and its next meeting is not until the 31st August.
Ultimatum to Speaker over Vacation of Seats by Expelled MDC-M MPs
On 22nd July
the Secretary-General of MDC-M, Professor Welshman Ncube, wrote
to the Speaker to inform him that three MDC-M members of the House
of Assembly had been expelled from the party and no longer represented
its interests in Parliament. In terms of section 41(1)(e) of the
this entails the immediate vacation of their seats by the MPs. The
MPs, however, went to the High Court in Bulawayo for orders setting
aside their expulsion from the party, and interdicting the Speaker
from declaring their House seats vacant. On the 12th August, the
party sent a further letter to the Speaker giving him until Tuesday
18th August to act on the party's original notification, failing
which a criminal complaint would be laid against him for contravening
section 4 of the Prevention of Corruption Act [i.e. failure to carry
out duty for the purpose of showing favour]. The Speaker said there
had been no deliberate delay and that normal due process was being
followed, requiring a report from Counsel to Parliament and if necessary
outside legal advice before a decision could be reached. The latest
development is the receipt by the Speaker of a letter on the MDC-M
letterhead disputing the right of Professor Ncube and the Mutambara
executive to speak and act for the party on this or any other issue.
Challenge to Speaker
The court case
to declare the election of the Speaker invalid has been heard, but
judgement is still pending.
have been no by-elections called to fill the 10 constituency vacancies
in Parliament [5 in the Senate, and 5 in the House of Assembly].
The delay in calling these by-elections is in breach of both the
Electoral Act and the Constitution.
A further 7
vacancies may occur in the House of Assembly in the near future,
all requiring to be filled by-elections:
- 3 in Matabeleland,
if the result of the wrangle described above is that the three
MDC-M MPs forfeit their seats [the constituencies concerned are:
Lupane East, Nkayi South and Bulilima East
- another 1
in Matabeleland, if Siyabonga Ncube [MDC-M, Insiza] accepts an
offered appointment as an ambassador [appointment to “public
office” results in automatic loss of one’s Parliamentary
- another 3
if the three MDC-T MPs who have been nominated [Lucia Matibenga,
Tose Sansole, Seiso Moyo] are appointed as provincial governors
at the end of this month, which would free up the seats for Dzivaresekwa,
Nketa and Hwange East]
This would produce
a total of 17 vacancies, all requiring by-elections. These cannot
now take place before 15th September as by-election procedures take
a minimum of 5 weeks between the notice calling a by-election and
polling. After the 15th September Article 21 of the GPA falls away,
leaving all three parties to the GPA free to contest by-elections
of the Late Vice-President Msika
of the GPA states that in the event of a vacancy arising in the
position of Vice-President, the vacancy will be filled by a nominee
of “the Party which held that position prior to the vacancy
arising”, i.e., by ZANU-PF. Prior to the GPA this would have
been solely the prerogative of the President. As the President is
also the head of ZANU-PF, the distinction is probably not significant.
Since the Unity Accord of 22nd December 1987, after which the two
vice-presidential posts were created, one of the two Vice-Presidents
has always been from the former ZAPU leadership. Whatever choice
ZANU-PF makes, it will alter the political balance in the country.
If the choice falls on someone from ZAPU who has stayed within the
ZANU-PF fold, it will affect the succession with ZANU-PF, as various
candidates back different parties in the ZANU-PF succession battle.
If, as rumours suggest, the choice is designed to win back the new
[or revived] ZAPU into the ZANU-PF, it may affect potential voting
patterns in the south of the country.
Acts still to
(No. 2) Bill and the Appropriation (Supplementary) Bill [both passed
by Parliament on the 23rd July] are expected to be gazetted as Acts
Bank Bill gazetted
Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill [H.B. 7, 2009] was gazetted on the
14th August. The Bill provides for major amendments to the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe Act, principally to bring the powers of the Governor
under the control of the Bank’s Board, to clarify the functions
of the Bank and to require the Bank to increase its reserves.
No other Bills
Public Finance Management Bill made available for public comment
of Finance has invited comments on its draft Public Finance Management
Bill, which is designed to replace the Audit and Exchequer Act and
the State Loans and Guarantees Act. The Bill is intended to improve
accountability for the use of public resources, provide the regulatory
framework for the management of public finances and promotion of
good governance as well as strengthen the current accounting system.
Comments should be submitted to the Accountant-General, P/B 7705,
Causeway or email email@example.com
or New Government Complex, corner Samora Machel Ave and Fourth St,
specifies in US dollars  the minimum third-party insurance cover
required for all motor vehicles, and  the minimum no-fault insurance
cover required to be carried by operators of buses, commuter omnibuses
and taxis [effective 4th August].
specifies new licence fees for broadcasting and other licences issued
under the Broadcasting Services Act. [Note: this does not include
states that the maximum prices for petroleum products will now be
“set by the Oil Industry based on cost factors, in consultation
with the Minister [of Industry and Commerce] and as announced by
a representative of the oil companies in the print media”.
specifies new US dollar amounts for expenses and allowances payable
to witnesses called to give evidence in criminal proceedings.
specifies new US dollar court fees for local courts [the courts
applying customary law presided over by chiefs and headmen].
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