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outreach impact on work of Parliament - Bill Watch 31/2009
September 12, 2009
Parliament is adjourned
until Tuesday 29th September
It is likely that the
President will formally open the Second Session of the Seventh Parliament
on 29th September.
Outreach Impact on Work of Parliament
Parliament are planning,
subject to confirmation from the President, to resume in just over
two weeks. The Select Committee on the Constitution have issued
statements that they will be starting their public consultation
shortly thereafter. If the Constitution outreach process does get
under way, it will involve 258 members of both houses working full
time, out of a total number of 296 MPs [there are 18 vacant seats
out of a full complement of 314], so there will be fewer than 40
members left in both Houses. The Clerk of Parliament has said that
Parliament will have to adjourn during the Constitution outreach
process, but if there is any urgent business MPs would be recalled
for a week or two. This is what happened during the last Constitutional
commission in 1999. There are already Ministry of Finance Bills
in the pipeline [see below] and towards the end of year there will
be the usual budget Bills. If these are dealt with, then the outreach
time-frame will perforce be affected. Conversely, while the Constitution
outreach is under way, it is unlikely that much other Parliamentary
business will get done, resulting in further delays on reform legislation.
The work of Parliamentary Committees would also be slowed down –
which may cause further delays in the selection of Constitutional
Commissions and scrutiny of the work of Ministries.
in Appointment of Constitutional Commissions
Media Commission There
has been no announcement of appointments from the President’
s office. It is well over a month since Parliament interviewed applicants
for this Commission. After a delay during which conflicting lists
were “leaked” to the press and protests from one party
claimed that its known supporters were missing from the list, a
“compromise” list of 12 nominees was sent to the President
from which the Constitution stipulates he must select the chairman
and 8 other members of this Commission.
The Three Other Constitutional
Commissions [Electoral Commission, Human Rights Commission and Anti-Corruption
Commission] Although Parliament originally said it hoped to complete
the selection process for all four Commissions by the end of June,
the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders [CSRO]
have decided to revisit how interviews are to be conducted, after
the controversy over selection of candidates for the Media Commission.
The CSRO has not yet met to finalise the process and it will not
meet again until after the 21st September.
SADC Summit Communiqué
issued at the end of the recent meeting in Kinshasa called on the
international community to “’remove all forms of sanctions
against Zimbabwe”. There was no express mention of any of
the outstanding issues between the parties to the inclusive government
that had been raised earlier with President Zuma by Mr Tsvangirai
and Mr Mutambara, nor of the delay in implementing legislative reform
and dealing with human rights abuses that the GPA called for. The
outgoing chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security,
King Mswati III of Swaziland, noted that political and security
challenges in a few parts of the region, especially the eastern
part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar and
Zimbabwe, are being effectively addressed. [Full text of communiqué
available on request]
Opening Speech at the Summit on 7th September highlighted positive
developments and socio-economic progress in the region, and on the
political front, he urged the Member States to collectively tackle
the challenges in Lesotho, Madagascar and Zimbabwe, stressing that
“the quest for lasting peace, stability and democracy remains
a priority for SADC”. He mentioned the significant progress
made in Zimbabwe under the auspices of the Inclusive Government
and said that “Just as SADC has stood with the people of Zimbabwe
in the search for a solution to the challenges facing the country,
it remains committed to working to encourage further progress. We
urge all parties to remove any obstacles to the implementation of
question in the South African Parliament on 9th September, Deputy
President Motlanthe said that “South Africa is committed to
assisting the Zimbabwean government to implement all the provisions
of the Global Political Agreement including all outstanding matters
in respect of which difficulties remain”.
on Inclusive Government
The recent SADC
Summit’s failure to deal with the disagreements raised at
the meeting with President Zuma the previous week led to the MDC
pinning its hopes on a possible further extraordinary SADC Summit
to discuss Zimbabwe. Instead SADC referred the overseeing and monitoring
of the implementation of outstanding issues on the power-sharing
agreement to the SADC Troika of the Organ on Politics, Defence and
Security which will be meeting soon. Mr Tsvangirai’s Press
Statement in Kinshasa on 8th September included the following passage:
“Now that the SADC Troika is specifically vested with the
matter of Zimbabwe it is my hope and belief that it will deal with
all outstanding issues as a matter of urgency. The legitimacy, credibility
and indeed the existence of the Inclusive Government itself depends
upon the expeditious resolution and enforcement of the agreement
in full. I have confidence that His Excellency President Guebuza
of Mozambique, as the new head of the Organ Troika will be equal
to the task.”
The incumbent provincial governors [all ZANU-PF] were appointed
just before the end of August 2008 for two-year terms. In June it
was reported that ZANU-PF negotiators had agreed that six provincial
governors would step down after one year in office to make way for
nominees of MDC-T  and MDC-M . The end of that year has come
and gone, with no sign of change in governorships.
Senator Roy Bennett has
not been sworn in as Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
AG and Governor of Reserve
Bank President Mugabe continues adamant that these appointments
will not be reversed.
No reform legislation has been enacted – or even presented
to Parliament. The President’s speech at the forthcoming opening
of Parliament’s Second Session is expected to set out the
Government’s legislative agenda for the Session.
The National Security
Council [NSC] did not meet at the end of August as it was supposed
to do. The NSC has had only one meeting, on the 30th July, since
the inception of the inclusive government in spite of the NSC Act
stipulating that it should meet once a month.
National Economic Council
has still not been set up.
Land Audit has not yet
and Thematic Committees did not meet this week. They will not meet
again until October.
Committee on Standing
Rules and Orders will not be meeting until a date still to be fixed
in the week commencing 21st September . This means that there can
be no movement, until then, on the holding of interviews for appointments
to the three remaining Constitutional Commissions,
Select Committee on the
New Constitution have had a series of meetings, culminating in announcements
over the last few days of the Committee’s determination to
continue with preparations for the outreach process and of the names
of the chairpersons of its 17 thematic subcommittees.
Select Committee to Investigate
AG's Conduct of Prosecutions On 30th July the House of Assembly
approved a motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate
the conduct of the Attorney-General in all politically-motivated
prosecutions. The Minister of Justice later wrote to the Speaker
stating that the appointment of the Select Committee would be in
breach of the Constitution. [For details see Bill Watch 30.] The
Speaker is taking legal advice and his decision on the Minister’s
objection is awaited.
Bills Passed but Not
Gazetted as Acts
The Finance (No. 2) Bill
and the Appropriation (Supplementary) Bill [both passed on 23rd
July] have still not been gazetted as Acts. They have no legal effect
until they are gazetted, which makes this inordinate delay serious,
bearing in mind the tax law changes involved. Also awaiting gazetting
as an Act is the Appropriation (Additional) (2008) Bill passed by
Parliament in early April. [The purpose of this Bill is to regularize
the unbudgeted, but not necessarily unlawful, expenditure that occurred
last year during the long cessation of normal Parliamentary activity
occasioned by the dissolution of Parliament, the harmonized elections
and the Presidential election re-run, and the ensuing period of
negotiations leading to the formation of the Inclusive Government.]
gazetted and on the Parliamentary agenda
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
Amendment Bill [H.B. 7, 2009] – gazetted on 14th August.
Parliament has sent three
Ministry of Finance Bills to the Government Printer for printing
and gazetting in preparation for their introduction into Parliament
in the new Session – the Public Finance Management Bill, the
Audit Office Bill and the Financial Adjustments Bill. The page proofs
of the Bills are presently with the legal drafters for checking.
We cannot offer copies of these Bills until they have been gazetted.
gazetted on 11th September included SI 149/2009 – regulations,
made by the Minister of Finance amending the Income Tax Act so as
to increase the rates of carbon tax and the NOCZIM debt redemption
makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take
legal responsibility for information supplied
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