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Organ Troika Ministers in Harare Thursday to discuss GPA –
Bill Watch 35 / 2009
October 26, 2009
The House of Assembly
reopened last week and has adjourned until Tuesday 3rd November
Senate has adjourned
until Tuesday 10th November
Sittings last week: After
a two week adjournment following the opening of Parliament on 6th
October the House of Assembly sat on Tuesday [1 hour 37 minutes],
Wednesday [2 hours 38 minutes] and Thursday [2 hours 49 minutes]
before adjourning to 3rd November. The Senate sat on Tuesday and
Wednesday before adjourning to 10th November; the sittings were
brief [31 minutes and 86 minutes respectively].
As assured in the MDC
statement of disengagement, Parliament sat with MPs and Ministers
from all parties attending to business.
in the House of Assembly
Debate on the
President’s speech opening the Second Session took place on
Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday’s debate became heated when
a ZANU-PF MP criticised the MDC’s disengagement and an MDC-T
MP was critical of the President’s speech, leading to spirited
interjections requiring several interventions by the Deputy Speaker.
Time on Wednesday saw Minister of Finance Tendai Biti explaining
that in November he will ask Parliament to approve the use of the
IMF special drawing rights [SDRs] about which there has been much
controversy; he stressed that the special drawing rights are a non-concessionary
loan carrying interest, not a grant. He also gave details of Zimbabwe’s
“huge debt”. Minister of Economic Planning and Investment
Promotion Elton Mangoma discussed what needs to be done to attract
investment, and referred to the problems created for potential investors
by land invasions and political interference in business, such as
threats against international companies operating here.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
Amendment Bill received its First Reading on Wednesday and was referred
to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
SADC Protocol on Gender
and Development was approved with support from all parties, and
will now go to the Senate for its approval.
Committee Report –
the report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural
Development on the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority Fund was presented
to the House of Assembly on Thursday.
Comptroller and Auditor-General’s
Reports – the Minister of Finance tabled reports for the 2007
financial year and for the first quarter of 2009.
in the Senate
The only business
dealt with was the debate on the President’s speech opening
the Second Session.
Disengagement: Impact on Government
in a belated public comment on the disengagement late last week,
dismissed it as a “non-event”. Minister of State in
the President’s Office Mutasa said: “Zimbabwe is going
to go on without them, as in the past.”
The Prime Minister spent
most of last week outside the country on an outreach mission to
brief regional Heads of State on the current situation ahead of
an anticipated SADC Organ Troika meeting. He met Presidents Khama
of Botswana, Guebuza of Mozambique, Zuma of South Africa, Kabila
of the DRC and dos Santos of Angola.
Council of Ministers
did not meet.
Cabinet met on Tuesday
without MDC-T members – an MDC-T press release stated “Any
purported Cabinet decision made by the Zanu PF caucus in the absence
of all the three political parties is null and void.” Constitutionally
this is incorrect – there is no required quorum and decisions
are taken by consensus. Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara said that,
while he sympathised with Mr Tsvangirai’s complaints, MDC-M
ministers would not disengage and would be “going to Cabinet
in order to stop ZANU (PF) from making outrageous decisions”.
He also saw the role of MDC-M as that of mediator between the two
other parties. These sentiments are in direct contradiction to Mr
Chaibva’s statement when interviewed by ZTV as representing
MDC-M [Bill Watch 34]. Mr Chaibva is not in fact an MDC-M MP.
Ministers and Deputy
Ministers from MDC-T reported for work as usual. There were reports
of difficulties and delays in work of some Ministries where Minister
and Deputy Minister are from different parties, and lack of liaison
– but that is not exactly new, having already been the case
in some Ministries. But following the “disengagement”
lack of communication becomes more problematic. An example being
that ZANU-PF Minister of Information Shamu has been quoted as saying
that “MDC-T ministers cannot speak on behalf of government
following their decision to disengage”… "So until
the party reverses its decision, these ministers will not be covered."
His MDC-T Deputy Minister Timba said he “was not aware of
this” and “these are some of the issues that are causing
tension in the inclusive government where the public media is used
to advance the interests of one political party or individual”.
Parliament sat as usual
last week [see above].
– the Select Committee and the new Management Committee, which
includes Ministers, have met as usual, with all parties present.
The “disengagement” relates to activities of the executive
– Cabinet and Council of Ministers – not to the work
of Parliamentary Committees and of individual Ministers.
Meeting Monday 26th October
The meeting between the
three principals – President Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai
and DPM Mutambara went on for three hours this afternoon. An MDC-T
spokesperson said afterwards that the MDC-T and ZANU-PF remain “worlds
Organ Troika Mission to Zimbabwe
The SADC mission
to Harare on 29th October will consist of the foreign ministers
of the Organ Troika countries – Mozambique, Zambia and Swaziland
– not the three Heads of State. The ministers will report
back to their principals. The chair of the Organ Troika is President
Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, currently busy campaigning ahead
of polling in that country’s national elections on 28th October,
which rules out his coming to Harare on the 29th. [Note on SADC
responsibilities: SADC and the AU are guarantors of the GPA.
In addition, as pointed out by Tendai Biti when briefing civil society
on 23rd October, MDC-T’s list of unresolved issues includes
ZANU-PF’s failure to comply with directives on sorting out
these issues given to the parties by the SADC Summit in January
of SADC, President Kabila of DRC to visit Harare?
announced from Kinshasa on Thursday that President Joseph Kabila
of the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] will visit Harare in the
coming days to mediate the crisis bedeviling the Zimbabwean government.
"President Kabila has committed himself to come and share with
us the rich experience of DRC in matters of political transition."
Mr Kabila is the current SADC chairperson.
Vacancies Awaiting By-elections
A new vacancy
in the Senate – with the death of elected Senator Misheck
Chando [ZANU-PF Bindura-Shamva] on 23rd October in a road accident
the number of Senate vacancies requiring the holding of by-elections
has risen to 6. In the House of Assembly there are 9 constituency
seats vacant. The country is now awaiting 15 by-elections
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Designate Roy Bennett – the
High Court trial on two charges under POSA
is due to commence on Monday 9th November in Harare.
Deputy Minister Thamsanqa
Mahlangu – the defence case has been concluded and the magistrate
will deliver judgment on 2nd November [the Deputy Minister and his
co-accused are charged with theft of a cell phone].
on Independent Constitutional Commissions
Commission [ZHRC]: A list of 16 nominees for appointment to ZHRC
was sent to the President by Parliament following the interviewing
of 35 short-listed candidates by the Committee on Standing Rules
and Orders [CSRO] on 12th October. CSRO members were unanimous in
their assessment of the candidates. It is now for the President
to appoint the 8 members [4 of whom must be women] of this Commission.
To complete the composition of the Commission the President must
also appoint a chairperson, who must be a legal practitioner of
at least 5 years’ standing, after consulting the Judicial
Service Commission and the CSRO [he is not bound to follow their
advice, but if the appointment is not consistent with any recommendation
of the JSC the President must inform the Senate of that fact “as
soon as practicable”].
[ZACC]: No interviews are scheduled for those who applied to Parliament
for positions on this Commission. The Constitution does not require
the CSRO to submit a list of nominees for ZACC; instead, it states
that the President must appoint the members of ZACC [not less than
4 and not more than 9] “in consultation with” the CSRO.
Further developments are awaited.
[ZEC] and Media Commission [ZMC]: There has been no announcement
of appointments of members and chairpersons of these commissions.
The President’s spokesman has been reported as stating that
the President’s intention is to announce the formation of
all four of the Commissions together, once all appointments have
been settled, something the MDC-T’s present disengagement
from ZANU-PF may hold up.
Tribunal: Another Ruling Defied by Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean commercial farmer Luke Tembani was evicted from his farm
in defiance of a SADC Tribunal ruling in August prohibiting the
eviction. The eviction was carried out by the Deputy Sheriff. Mr
Tembani, who owed Agribank money, fell victim to the law allowing
Agribank to repossess and sell his farm without recourse to the
courts. The Tribunal ruled that the repossession and sale of the
farm by Agribank was "illegal and void", holding the law
under which it was done to be inconsistent with the principles of
the SADC Treaty. This eviction has gone ahead in spite of the Prime
Minister’s statement that the Cabinet was yet to decide on
Zimbabwe’s position vis-à-vis the Tribunal.
in Parliament: Reserve Bank Amendment Bill [HB 7, 2009] –
gazetted on 14th August. This Bill has been referred to the Parliamentary
Legal Committee following its First Reading. [See Bill Watch Special
of 8th October, which notes that one clause may be inconsistent
with the Declaration of Rights].
Bills gazetted awaiting
introduction in Parliament:
Public Finance Management
Bill [HB 9, 2009] – gazetted on 16th October. [Electronic
version available on request.]
Audit Office Bill [HB
10, 2009] – gazetted on 2nd October. [Electronic version available
Bill [HB 8, 2009] – gazetted on 25th September. [Electronic
version available on request.]
Bill passed by Parliament
but not yet gazetted as Act The Appropriation (Additional) (2008)
Bill, passed in early April, has at last been submitted for the
President’s assent and signature but has still not been gazetted.
It is not an Act until gazetted. [The Bill approves expenditure
incurred without Parliamentary authority in 2008.]
fees under the Broadcasting Services Act were mentioned in press
reports last week – although these were in fact gazetted over
two months ago [SI 130/2009 of 7th August].
gazetted on 23rd October included:
SI 164/2009, which fixes
a new rate of interest [5 per cent per annum],for the purposes of
the Prescribed Rate of Interest Act. This is the default rate of
interest applicable to overdue debts; it applies unless a different
rate is fixed by a court or by agreement of the parties. [Electronic
version available on request.]
SI 165/2009, which contains
the agreement between Zimbabwe and Zambia for the establishment
and implementation of the one-stop border post at Chirundu.
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