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on outstanding issues start at last - Bill Watch 40 / 2009
November 24, 2009
are adjourned and will resume on Tuesday 1st December
Budget will be presented on Wednesday 2nd December
on Inclusive Government
dialogue on outstanding issues under way at last: The preliminary
deadline of 21st November for the parties to engage in discussions
mandated by the SADC Organ Troika to resolve inter-party disputes
passed without the negotiators having started talking. The idea
that President Zuma would come to Harare this week to see what progress
had been made by that date was a non-starter. The three negotiating
teams eventually had their first meeting yesterday, lasting until
after midnight, and agreed on a 19-item agenda. After a break for
today’s Cabinet meeting, the negotiators will continue this
evening and all day tomorrow. The build-up to yesterday’s
meeting was painfully slow. There were dates set and abortive meetings,
as all the negotiators could not make themselves free at the same
time. [Attending other meetings took priority.] The three party
principals – Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara – had
met on Friday 13th November to discuss the way forward. On Monday
16th November Mr Tsvangirai met the negotiators from ZANU PF, MDC-T
and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara who was representing
the MDC-M in the absence of its negotiators. This meeting was to
brief the negotiators on the principals’ discussions, and
it was followed by an announcement that the negotiators would meet
at a secret venue from Friday 20th November and work right through
the weekend – a meeting that failed to take off.
The late start
means that the parties have only 13 days left – and any agreement
reached by the negotiators will have to be approved by the principals.
[Analysts predict that there will be no concessions by President
Mugabe prior to the ZANU-PF National Congress, originally scheduled
for 8th to 13th December, but now postponed to start on a later
date]. On 6th December, 30 days after the SADC Organ Troika Maputo
meeting, President Zuma must assess progress [or otherwise] and
compile a report for presentation to the chairperson of the Organ
Troika, President Guebuza of Mozambique.
not meet last week, because the President was out of the country
attending the FAO Food Summit in Rome. There will be a meeting today.
of Ministers met last Thursday with the Prime Minister in the chair.
Statement by Prime Minister – this is to include an assessment
of the general political situation and an outline of government
business in Parliament, which should include the legislative agenda
[although this was outlined in the President’s speech, the
Prime Minister is in fact Leader of Government Business in Parliament].
It was scheduled for this week, but as Parliament adjourned it has
been rescheduled until after the 1st December.
Week in Parliament
House of Assembly
Member’s Bill to Amend POSA Given Go-Ahead – Mr
Gonese’s motion seeking the leave of the House of Assembly
to introduce his private member's Bill to amend the Public
Order and Security Act [POSA] was approved on Thursday 19th
November. The Bill will now be printed and gazetted. When 14 days
have expired after its gazetting, Mr Gonese will be able to introduce
the Bill, and it will thereafter follow the same procedure as a
government Bill. As gazetting will take some time, it is unlikely
that the Bill will be gazetted in time to be introduced before the
House adjourns for its holiday season break.
of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill: There had been opposition to this Bill
by the ZANU-PF caucus as a result of which discussions took place
with the Minister of Finance and agreed amendments were approved
when the Bill was went through the Committee Stage after its second
reading. The amended Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Legal
Committee, which promptly provided a non-adverse report. It was
then passed and transmitted to the Senate. Amendments include the
- the proposed
new Audit Committee and Oversight Committees will be merged in
a single Audit and Oversight Committee. This will be chaired by
the deputy chairperson of the Bank’s board and the other
members will be non-executive members of the Board appointed by
the Minister [not complete outsiders, as proposed in the original
- the Minister’s
proposed new powers to give the Board policy directions are eliminated
from the Bill.
- a clause,
headed “Immunity of Bank, etc” has been added, giving
the State, the Minister, the Bank and its Board, the Governor
and the Bank’s employees limited immunity from civil “claims”
for things done “in good faith and without negligence”
under the powers conferred by the Reserve Bank Act. This clause
has attracted criticism but, as Minister Biti has pointed out,
it is a standard clause which appears in other Acts establishing
statutory bodies and does not grant a blanket immunity, e.g. for
- the provision
for the State to take over the Bank’s shares in companies
controlled by it is replaced by a new provision requiring the
Bank to dispose of such shares. The Minister’s approval
will be necessary for every disposal.
The Financial Adjustments Bill, the object of which is to condone
unauthorised expenditure by Ministries in 2006, was passed by the
House without amendment and transmitted to the Senate. The second
reading debates on the Public Finance Management Bill and Audit
Office Bill commenced, with the Minister of Finance explaining the
general principles of both Bills. Debate will continue on 1st December.
House approved the motion calling for the setting up of a committee
to examine and report back to the House on the procedures for declaring
national heroes. Debate commenced on Hon. Matutu’s motion
calling on the inclusive government to immediately carry out a comprehensive
audit of the voters roll.
Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Tamsanqa
Mahlangu provided details on youth training centres, the number
of youths undergoing training at the centres and the number and
deployment of youth officers in the Ministry.
Legal Committee [PLC]: The PLC submitted non-adverse reports on
the Minister of Finance’s Public Finance Management Bill,
Audit Office Bill and Financial Adjustments Bill, and on the amendments
made to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill.
the Senate did not sit last week.
Parliamentary Forum This Week
hosting the SADC Parliamentary Forum plenary session in Victoria
Falls, which is why the House of Assembly and the Senate are not
sitting this week. The Forum will discuss its possible upgrading,
from a body which merely discusses regional issues with the aim
of capacitating member Parliaments, into a regional Parliament with
real legislative powers.
Roy Bennett: High Court Trial Continues
On Monday 16th
November Justice Bhunu dismissed the defence application for him
to recuse himself from hearing the trial. Mr Bennett pleaded not
guilty to the charges and the first State witness was called. The
trial continued on Monday 23rd November, with the first State witness
still under cross-examination. After the first witness’ evidence,
the court adjourned until today, Tuesday.
on Independent Constitutional Commissions and BAZ Board
There is still
no news of appointments being made to the Human Rights Commission,
the Electoral Commission and the Media Commission, or of consultations
between the President’s Office and Parliament on appointments
to the Anti-Corruption Commission. Last week the Prime Minister
said that the Media Commission appointments would be announced soon.
He also confirmed that the composition of a new board for the Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe [BAZ] has not been finalised; and that the
announcement some time ago of BAZ Board members by the Ministry
of Media, Information and Publicity had been incorrect.
Week’s Parliamentary Agenda
The Minister of Finance will present his 2010 Budget on Wednesday
2nd December. This entails not only the Minister’s statement
on the economy’s performance and prospects, but also the tabling
of the Estimates of Expenditure for 2010 and related taxation proposals,
which will be incorporated in the Appropriation (2010) Bill and
the Finance (No. 3) Bill, respectively.
Bills: On Tuesday
1st December the second reading debates will continue on the Public
Finance Management Bill and the Audit Office Bill.
will continue on motions carried over from last week or the week
before, including a motion calling for an audit of the voters roll;
and the debate on the President’s Opening of Parliament speech.
[Wednesday]: 26 Questions with Notice, some of them carried over
from previous Question Times, are on the Order Paper for reply by
the relevant Ministers or Deputy Ministers. New questions seek information
companies established by parastatals
- the functions
of the Ministry of State Enterprises and Parastatals vis-à-vis
the appointment of board members of State enterprises
- if and/or
when there will be mobile births and deaths registration exercises
in both rural and urban areas
policy on members of the Central Intelligence Organisation [CIO]
joining and holding office in political parties while in State
Bills: The Senate’s
first order of business will be to consider the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe Amendment Bill and the Financial Adjustments Bill, passed
by the House of Assembly and transmitted to the Senate last week.
time not taken up by consideration of Bills will be devoted to the
continuation of the debate on the President’s Opening of Parliament
Bills in Parliament:
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill [HB 7, 2009], Public Finance
Management Bill [HB 9, 2009], Audit Office Bill [HB 10, 2009] and
Financial Adjustments Bill [HB 8, 2009] Likely to be passed by both
Houses in December.
Introduction: Public Order and Security Amendment Bill [private
member’s Bill – see above]. Unlikely to be introduced
No statutory instruments were gazetted last week.
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