THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

House of Assembly to sit next week - Bill Watch 3/2010
January 28, 2010

The House of Assembly will meet on 2nd February 2010. The Senate will meet on 9th February.

Parliamentary Update

The forthcoming sittings of both Houses are likely to be brief because there is so little work awaiting attention.

The House of Assembly Agenda for next week: Mr Gonese’s Private Member’s Bill is due for its First Reading, but further progress on the Bill will then be delayed while it is considered by the Parliamentary Legal Committee, which could take a week or two. The only other items on the agenda are uncompleted motions carried over from last year and some 50 questions for reply by Ministers.

The Senate Agenda for the following week: the controversial Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill, for which proposed amendments have been tabled, motions carried over and a few questions for Ministers.

No other Bills are ready for presentation. Those who have been anticipating the prompt passage of the POSA Amendment Bill and the early introduction of media and other reform legislation so long promised are likely to continue to be disappointed. Other Bills urgently needed but not yet in the pipeline are Bills to enable the Constitutional Commissions to function properly.

Once the Constitution Outreach Programme starts, which is now considered unlikely before the third week in February, it is planned to last for at least 65 days. As most MPs will be involved in that programme, it would be difficult to have Parliament sitting during that time, although MPs could be recalled to Parliament to deal with urgent business if necessary.

Last year Parliament was unproductive. After the formation of the inclusive government, there was very little in the way of legislation other than Bills from the Minister of Finance. As things stand, this year Parliament looks set for an unproductive few months.

Committee Meetings: House of Assembly portfolio committees and Senate thematic committees are scheduled to continue until the Constitution consultation programme starts in earnest.

Constituency Development Funds

The Constituency Development Funds announced by the Minister of Finance in his Budget Statement on 2nd December have not yet been set up. The Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs is working on a Bill to provide for the establishment and operations of these funds. Once the Ministry has completed its draft, the Minister will have to take it to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation and Cabinet for approval before it can be submitted to Parliament.

Update on Inclusive Government

Vice-President Joice Mujuru is still Acting President, while the President continues his annual leave.

The Prime Minister returned to his office from leave on Monday 18th January.

Cabinet has not met this month. Its first meeting of 2010 will be in February.

The Council of Ministers is meeting under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister today, Thursday 28th January.

No meeting of the National Security Council [NSC] was scheduled for January, despite the statutory requirement that the Council must meet monthly. A February meeting has been tentatively arranged. The NSC has met only once since its formation – a clear violation of the Act. In the meantime ZANU PF is said to have refused any suggestion to dismantle or reform the Joint Operations Command [JOC], which it says should remain in existence to oversee operational matters while the NSC handles matters of policy. MDC-T is said to be demanding that the JOC, be dismantled. This is another unresolved issue for the negotiators.

JOMIC annual review of progress on the GPA is due 13th February [Article 23 of GPA]

Negotiations on GPA Disputes: Negotiations were resumed this year, but quickly postponed: The negotiators met briefly on the evening of Wednesday 20th January after a break of nearly four weeks since the previous meeting of the principals on 23rd December. They made no progress and fixed their next meeting for 8th February. In the following days MDC-T negotiator Tendai Biti was reported to have told the MDC-T Standing Committee meeting on Friday that the negotiators were deadlocked, and party spokesman Nelson Chamisa was quoted as saying after the Standing Committee meeting that the party may refer the current “logjam” to President Zuma. Negotiators from the three parties have reportedly agreed on 16 of 28 outstanding power-sharing issues. But there has been no formal announcement on what has been agreed.


The number of unresolved issues between the major parties in the inclusive government has increased to include, for example, the review of ministerial allocations – with the MDC-T said to be demanding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and sole control of Home Affairs, the role of the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, George Charamba, who MDC-T accuse of leading a campaign of hate speech aimed at derailing the GNU, etc.

ZANU-PF at their National Congress at the end of last year instructed President Mugabe and ZANU PF negotiators “to ensure that all outstanding issues, once agreed, must be implemented concurrently. This means there should be no movement on the concerns of the MDC formations without corresponding and simultaneous redress of ZANU PF’s concerns such as the illegal Western sanctions, Western-funded pirate radio broadcasts”, etc. [Without some reform legislation, which is not yet in the pipeline, it does not look as if governments imposing selective “sanctions” will lift them, and now that ZANU-PF has now clearly made this a condition for concessions, it leaves the Inter-Party negotiations trapped within a somewhat vicious circle.]

Other GPA articles on which the nation thought there had been agreement, such as the land audit and the formation of the National Economic Council [NEC], have not been implemented and now also seem to be subject of dispute. Agriculture Minister Joseph Made [ZANU-PF] said there could be no land audit until sanctions have been lifted because sanctions have prevented new farmers from becoming productive. And there has been delay and confusion as to who is responsible for the setting up of the NEC.

SADC Update

SADC Foreign Ministers met on 7th January and were briefed by Mozambique President Guebuza, chairperson of the Security Organ Troika, on progress in the Zimbabwe Inter-Party negotiations. The official communiqué issued after the meeting contained only one sentence on Zimbabwe: “ISPDC also noted with appreciation the efforts of SADC Facilitator in assisting Zimbabwe to fully implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA)”. Press reports afterwards, however, quoted Mozambique Foreign Minister as saying that nobody at the meeting was happy with the pace of negotiations in Zimbabwe. "We want the talks to conclude as soon as possible." The Organ Troika met with the SADC Summit Troika on 14th January. The official communiqué issued after this Summit again had only a single sentence on Zimbabwe: “Summit also noted with appreciation the efforts of SADC facilitator in assisting Zimbabwe to fully implement the global political agreement and urged the parties to implement decisions made.”

AU Summit 25th January to 2nd February, Addis Ababa

The AU Heads of State and Government will meet 31st January - 2nd February. This is proceeded by meetings of the Permanent Representatives Committee and the Executive Council. The theme of the Summit is “Information and Communication Technologies in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Development”. Among items to be considered are the report of the AU’s Peace and Security Council on the State of Peace and Security in Africa, and Malawi’s candidature for the AU chair, which is endorsed by SADC, but being contested by President Gaddafi, who wants to retain the chair for a second term. ZANU-PF has said that it will be taking the “sanctions” question to the AU Summit.

Legislation Update

Budget Acts Gazetted: On 8th January, after normal Government Printer business hours [and after we sent out Bill Watch 1/2010]. the Appropriation (2010) Act and the Finance (No. 3) Act were gazetted in a Gazette Extraordinary, effective immediately. [Note: Most of the tax law changes in the Finance (No. 3) Act are with effect from the 1st January.]

Bills in Parliament:

House of Assembly: None. All Bills have been dealt with. No new Bills are currently being printed.

Senate: the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill awaits its Committee Stage. Amendments have been tabled for consideration.

Bill Awaiting Introduction: The Public Order and Security Amendment Bill [Mr Gonese’s Private Member’s Bill] was gazetted on 11th December. The Bill now awaits introduction in the House of Assembly.

Bills Passed by Parliament Awaiting President’s Assent and/or Gazetting as Acts: Financial Adjustments Bill, Public Finance Management Bill and Audit Office Bill.

Statutory instruments:

On 1st January seven Budget-related statutory instruments were gazetted, effective immediately: SIs 1/2010 [VAT changes], 2/2010 [customs and excise tariff changes] 3 and 4/2010 [customs duty suspensions], and 5, 6 and 7/2010 , which fix at 10% the rate of interest payable by taxpayers on unpaid customs duty [SI 5], capital gains tax [SI 6] and income tax [SI 7] and provide for the same rate of interest to be paid by ZIMRA on overdue refunds to taxpayers.

On 8th January three statutory instruments were gazetted, effective immediately: SI 8/2010 [fixing the maximum height and length of omnibuses for the purposes of the Road Motor Transportation Act]; SI 9/2010 [fixing the 31st December 2010 as the deadline for the change-over from the “old” to the “new” motor vehicle number plates under the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Regulations ]; and SI 10/2010 [brokers’ fees, levies payable to the Securities Commission, and registration and licensing fees under the Securities Act].

On 15th January, in another measure announced in the Budget, SI 11/2010 prescribed road toll fees, not only in US dollars but also in rand, pula, euro and pound; it also specified two additional tolling points near Harare, one on the Harare-Mutare road beyond Ruwa, the other on the Harare-Seke road beyond Chitungwiza.

On 22nd January the following statutory instruments were gazetted, effective immediately – 13/2010 [customs duty suspension on water treatment chemicals],14/2010 [increase, backdated to 1st November 2009, in national employment council dues payable by employers and employees in welfare and educational institutions].

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

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.