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  • No report yet on inter-party dialogue - Bill Watch 43 / 2009
    December 07, 2009

    Both Houses will sit on Tuesday 8th December

    Last Week in Parliament

    House of Assembly

    The House of Assembly sat on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.

    On Tuesday the Prime Minister addressed the House and presented the Government’s Workplan for 2010 [see below].

    On Wednesday afternoon the Finance Minister presented the Budget, predicting a growth rate in 2010 of 7% [the revised growth rate for 2009 was 4.7%, better than the predicted 3.7%] [See Bill Watch 42 of 5th December for more details on the Budget]

    Bills: The Public Finance Management Bill and the Audit Office Bill were given their second readings. The Minister of Finance gave notice that he would ask for amendments to be made to the Bills during their Committee Stages.

    Motions: No motions were debated due to pressure of other business [two Bills, the Prime Minister’s address and the Budget Statement].

    Question Time: The usual Wednesday question time did not take place. By agreement of the House it was deferred to make way for the Budget Statement.


    The Senate sat on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

    Bills: The Senate passed the Financial Adjustments Bill without amendment on Thursday. The Bill will be sent to the President for his assent as soon as it has been reprinted. Also on Thursday, the Minister of Finance made his Second Reading speech on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill; debate was then deferred to this week to allow Senators time to study the Bill.

    Motions: On Tuesday there was brief debate on the President’s Speech opening Parliament and the condolence motion for the late Vice-President Msika. On Thursday Senator Muchiwa introduced her motion calling for a review of the Community and Home-Based Care Programme for those living with and/or affected by HIV/AIDS.

    Sitting times: On each of Tuesday and Thursday the Senate sat for only a few minutes over one hour. On Wednesday the Senate adjourned immediately after prayers to listen to the Budget Statement, so no business was conducted

    Highlights of Prime Minister’s Address to House of Assembly

    The Prime Minister presented the Government’s Work Plan for the fiscal year 2010 [January to December]. This plan forms the basis of the 2010 Budget.

    Government’s Five Priorities and Related Targets

    In September the Government had adopted five priorities

    • Promote Economic Growth and Ensure Food Security
    • Guarantee Basic Services and Infrastructural Development
    • Strengthen & Ensure the Rule of Law and Respect for Property Rights
    • Advance and Safeguard Basic Freedoms
    • Re-establish International Relations.

    These reflect the Inclusive Government's priorities, including the commitments contained in the Global Political Agreement. Ministries have worked on setting “SMART” targets for these priorities – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. The Council of Ministers will track the performance of Ministries against these targets to identify problems as they arise and find solutions.

    Oversight Role of the House

    The House would also be expected to play its role by tracking and questioning Ministries on their performance. “Where Ministries under perform, they should be held to account. If State resources are misallocated, misspent or misappropriated, those responsible should be brought to book by this House. In this you will have my full support.” “Every public official - whether a Minister, a policeman or a civil servant - who has broken the law, acted corruptly or simply incompetently - must respect the supremacy of this House.”

    Prime Minister’s Question Time in 2010

    “I myself stand ready to be challenged or questioned by Parliament at any time. And I expect, and will direct, all of our Ministers to do the same. I welcome the opportunity to regularly attend Prime Minister's Question Time when this House reconvenes in the New Year.”

    Legislative Agenda – Details to be Presented in Early 2010

    This was dealt with in general terms only. “The Government Work Program, informed by the key five priorities, will form the basis for the Legislative Agenda, which, after it has been approved by Council of Ministers and Cabinet, I will present to this House, early in the New Year. In line with the legislation outlined by the President in his opening address, such as the Human Rights Commission and ICT Bills and amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act, Labour Laws and Public Service Act, we shall be introducing legislation in keeping with Government's priorities and our commitments under the GPA.”

    Constitution-Making Process

    The Prime Minister also referred to Parliament’s role in the constitution-making process, commending the work done to date under difficult circumstances and expressing his satisfaction that the outreach programme “will begin soon”.

    Parliamentarians’ Remuneration

    The Prime Minister paid tribute to all members of Parliament for work done over the past year under trying circumstances. He acknowledged the inadequacy of their remuneration, which he said would receive attention “within our constrained economic environment”.

    This Week’s Parliamentary Agenda

    House of Assembly

    Budget: Tuesday 8th December – the House will debate the Minister of Finance’s motion for leave to bring in the Finance Bill – last Wednesday’s Budget Statement introduced this motion. The House will also commence consideration of the Estimates of Expenditure for 2010 [for this purpose it will sit as a committee of the whole House known as the Committee of Supply]. Approval of the Estimates will permit the Minister of Finance to present the Appropriation (2010) Bill authorising the expenditure proposed in the Estimates.

    Bills: Also down for Tuesday 8th December are the Committee Stages of the Public Finance Management Bill and the Audit Office Bill. The Committee Stage is when the House considers a Bill in detail, clause by clause, and may make amendments. The Minister of Finance has given notice that he will be asking for a few amendments to be made to both Bills. Mr Gonese’s Private Member’s Bill to amend the Public Order and Security Act will not come up for consideration; Parliament has not yet sent it to be printed.

    Motions: Time permitting, debate will continue on motions carried over from last week or the week before, including the motion calling for an audit of the voters roll, and the motion on the President’s Opening of Parliament speech.

    Question Time [Wednesday]: The number of written questions awaiting Ministerial responses has now risen from 26 to 52, Recently added questions include one asking the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education for details of the Presidential Scholarship Programme over the years and probing the welfare and privileges of present scholarship holders; another asks the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs for detailed statistics of prisoners in the country’s prisons.


    Bills: The Senate will continue the Second Reading debate on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill, as amended by the House of Assembly. It remains to be seen whether ZANU-PF Senators will, as reported, seek to have the Bill further amended. Any amendments made by the Senate would 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 debate on adjourned motions, including Senator Muchiwa’s new motion on the Community and Home-Based Care Programme [see above].

    The ZANU-PF Congress is not expected to interfere with Parliamentary sittings as its first two days will be taken up with preliminary business.

    ZANU-PF Congress Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th December

    This takes place every 5 years and this year will be in Harare. On Wednesday and Thursday the Politburo and Central Committee meet. Plenary meetings of all delegates [possibly as many as 5000, depending on fund-raising efforts] will follow. The Congress agenda includes the filling of all party leadership posts. The person who gets the position of Vice-President and Second Secretary held by the late Vice-President Msika will become one of the country’s Vice-Presidents [under the Constitution the President and /or ZANU-PF must appoint two Vice-Presidents]. If, as is likely, John Nkomo is elected to that position, his present position as National Chairperson will need to be filled. In theory the positions of President Mugabe as party President and First Secretary and Joice Mujuru as the other Vice-President and Second Secretary are also open. The provinces have endorsed Mr Mugabe continuing as President and First Secretary of the Party which means he is automatically the party nominee for President in the next elections. The inclusive government will also be discussed and what emerges may well influence the ongoing negotiations.

    Update on Inclusive Government

    Inter-party Dialogue Continues: The three negotiating teams had more meetings last week, and again this weekend. Emerson Mnangagwa replaced Patrick Chinamasa on the ZANU-PF team while Chinamasa was out of the country on business. Press reports over the last few days [based on “sources”, not on official pronouncements] have claimed that the negotiators have made progress, that 15 items have been discussed and agreement reached on 12 [including provincial governors and turning ZBC into a truly public broadcaster, but not the Attorney-General, the Reserve Bank Governor or the swearing-in of Deputy Minister Bennett].

    South African Mediation To Return: President Zuma’s new mediation/facilitation team [see Bill Watch 41 of 30th November] arrived in Harare on Sunday 29th November, met the three principals, separately, and the negotiators, all together, on Monday, and left on Tuesday 1st December to make a report to President Zuma. The team is to return to Harare today, for a more comprehensive assessment. A member of the South African team has dismissed suggestions that President Zuma himself would be coming to Harare this week. According to the terms of the SADC Organ Troika’s Maputo Communiqué President Zuma is to report on progress made to the Troika chairperson, President Guebuza of Mozambique by the 6th December. There will be no public announcement until the report has been made to the SADC Organ Troika.

    New Chiadzwa Court Case

    African Consolidated Resources [ACR], confirmed by the High Court as the lawful owners of mining claims over part of the Chiadzwa diamond field, have launched a second court application to evict from those claims two companies the Minister of Mines signed an agreement with to exploit the fields in a joint venture with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation. In spite of the court order in ACR’s favour, operations on the contested claims were recently inspected by a ministerial delegation, and the joint venture was also referred to in Minister Biti’s Budget statement.

    Legislation Update

    Bills in Parliament:

    House of Assembly: Public Finance Management Bill [HB 9, 2009] and Audit Office Bill [HB 10, 2009]. Both Bills await Committee Stage.

    Senate: Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill [HB 7, 2009]. Awaiting continuation of Second Reading debate. [See Parliamentary Update above.]

    Bills Awaiting Introduction: Appropriation (2010) Bill and Finance (2010) Bill [Minister of Finance]

    Public Order and Security Amendment Bill [Private Member’s Bill]. Parliament have not yet sent this Bill to the Government Printer to be printed. It is unlikely to be introduced this year.

    Bill Passed and Ready for Submission for President’s Assent: Financial Adjustments Bill [HB 8, 2009]

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

    *Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.

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