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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Inclusive government - Index of articles


  • South African mediation team in Harare - Bill Watch 41/2009
    Veritas
    November 30, 2009

    The 2010 Budget

    This will be presented on Wednesday 2nd November at 3.45 pm by Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

    Prime Minister to Address House of Assembly Tuesday 1st December

    The Prime Minister will address the House of Assembly tomorrow, Tuesday, shortly after the House convenes at 2.15 pm. As Leader of Government Business in Parliament, he is expected to cover the inclusive government’s legislative agenda for the rest of the current session, focusing particularly on planned reforms of media and electoral legislation. He has also told the House that he would give an assessment of the general political situation.

    Update on Inclusive Government

    Inter-party Dialogue Continues: The three negotiating teams met on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday last week and then adjourned until the weekend because members had other commitments on Thursday and Friday. Talks resumed on Saturday and continued until lunchtime Sunday. They are due to resume at 5 pm today. Secrecy has been maintained over the talks venue, and there has been no reliable indication on whether or not progress is being made. The disputed appointments of the Attorney-General and the Governor of the Reserve Bank are being left to the end of the 19 item agenda in an effort to make progress on other issues.

    News South African Mediation Team: President Zuma of South Africa has appointed a new mediation/facilitation team. The members are former cabinet ministers Charles Nqakula and Mac Maharaj and President Zuma's international relations adviser, Lindiwe Zulu. These appointments are seen as finally ending former President Mbeki’s role in the mediation/facilitation process – and the abandonment of the quiet diplomacy that characterized the Mbeki approach. The new team started their meetings with the parties in Harare today. It is expected that they will adopt a robust approach and will insist on results by the 6th December, the date set by the SADC Organ Troika for the compilation of the progress report to be presented by President Zuma to the Troika chairperson, President Guebuza of Mozambique.

    South Africa/Zimbabwe BIPPA Signed

    The Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement [BIPPA] between South Africa and Zimbabwe was signed in Harare, Friday 27th November. There was a last-minute court application in South Africa to bar the South African government from signing an agreement believed to exclude protection for South African citizens whose farms in Zimbabwe were taken over under the Land Reform programme. An order delaying the signing was averted when the South African government gave an undertaking to honour the judgment of the SADC Tribunal on the Zimbabwe land issue and to uphold the rights of South African citizens under the judgment. It also assured the court that the BIPPA would not prevent the government from doing that. [BIPPA text not yet available.]

    Last Week in Parliament

    Parliament did not sit last week. Most of the staff were facilitating the SADC Parliamentary Forum meetings at Victoria Falls. Some House of Assembly portfolio committees and Senate thematic committees had meetings.

    This Week’s Parliamentary Agenda

    House of Assembly

    Bills: Tuesday 1st December – the second reading debates are due to continue on the Public Finance Management Bill and the Audit Office Bill.

    Budget: Wednesday – 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.

    Motions: Time permitting, debate 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.

    Question Time [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. Question Time will be half an hour shorter than usual, to allow for the Budget presentation.

    Senate

    Bills: The Senate will 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. ZANU-PF Senators have said they will seek to have the Bill amended to cover concerns that emerged too late to be raised when the Bill was before the House of Assembly. Amendments made by the Senate will have to be approved by the Parliamentary Legal Committee and then go back to the House of Assembly for its endorsement.

    Motions: Any time not taken up with Bills will be devoted to the continuation of the debate on the President’s Opening of Parliament speech.

    SADC Parliamentary Forum Meeting in Victoria Falls

    President Mugabe opening speech at the SADC Parliamentary Forum supported proposals to transform the Forum into a regional Parliament with real legislative powers. This was endorsed by the Prime Minister, addressing the Forum later in the week. [This support may be regarded with reservations by other SADC member states, given Zimbabwe’s repudiation of the SADC Tribunal and its judgments.]

    Important Court Cases

    SADC Tribunal decision: Application to High Court for Enforcement: On 24th November High Court judge Bharat Patel heard an application for the registration of the judgment of the SADC Tribunal holding the Government’s acquisition of farms under the Land Reform Programme illegal. Registration would permit the enforcement of the Tribunal’s judgment on the same basis as a judgment of a Zimbabwean court. The legal arguments presented to the court focused on whether or not the SADC Tribunal has been legally constituted, with the Government contending that the SADC Protocol constituting the Tribunal has not been ratified by Zimbabwe and other SADC member states, and the applicant arguing that such ratification was not necessary. The judge’s decision will be handed down on a later date yet to be announced.

    Bennett Trial: Senator Bennett’s trial continued in the High Court with several State witnesses giving evidence, but without the expected appearance of the State’s key witness, Peter Hitschmann, Mr Bennett’s alleged co-conspirator. The investigating officer admitted under cross-examination by defence counsel that his investigations were not yet complete. On Friday, the last day of the court term, the judge adjourned the trial until 12th January. The court dismissed a defence application for relaxation of Mr Bennett’s stringent bail conditions. Widespread international concern about whether the prosecution has been brought in good faith or is politically motivated has prompted the International Commission of Jurists [ICJ] to appoint an observer to cover the remainder of the trial to assist the ICJ assessment of the fairness of the process.

    Bhebhe Court Application on By-elections: Abednico Bhebhe, former MP for Nkayi South, lost his House of Assembly seat in July, after he was expelled from MDC-M along with two other MPs. He said last week that he was not prepared to wait any longer for the now overdue by-election to be called and has instructed his lawyers to apply to the High Court for an order to force the government to appoint the new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] members, hoping this would expedite the calling of by-elections, legally long overdue.

    Chiadzwa Claims Holder in High Court Setback: African Consolidated Resources [ACR], seeking to enforce the rights to the Chiadzwa diamond claims awarded to it by Justice Hungwe on 29th September, failed in its bid to get the High Court Registrar to issue a writ for the eviction of the Government and its surrogates from the claims. Asked to review the Registrar’s refusal, Justice Hungwe confirmed it, explaining that his earlier judgment had not specifically ordered the eviction of the Government or others from the claims. The judge also refused to expand his earlier order to include eviction, pointing out that ACR had not asked for eviction in the earlier proceedings.

    Legislation Update

    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. [See Parliamentary Update above.]

    Bill Awaiting Introduction: Public Order and Security Amendment Bill [private member’s Bill – see above]. Parliament have not yet sent the Bill to the Government Printer to be printed. It is unlikely to be introduced this year.

    Statutory Instruments: For the second week running, no statutory instruments were gazetted last week.

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