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SA facilitation team and President Zuma expected in Harare – Bill Watch 5/2010
February 06, 2010

The House of Assembly sat this week, both the House of Assembly and the Senate will sit on 9th February.

Update on Inclusive Government

Top Executive Meeting: The President, the Vice-Presidents, the Prime Minister and the two Deputy Prime Ministers met on Friday 5th February. Their discussions included the constitutional commissions [see below] and the circular from the President’s office on Vice-Presidential responsibilities. There was no agreement on stopping farm evictions or proceeding with the land audit.

Cabinet Circular on Vice-Presidential Functions: The Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, issued a circular to Ministers dated 25th January directing them to report to the Vice-Presidents, who would assist the President in their "supervision and management”. MDC-T have interpreted this as undermining the Prime Minister’s authority, as under Article 20 of the GPA as enshrined in Constitution Amendment No. 19, the Prime Minister “shall oversee the formulation of government policies by the Cabinet” and “shall ensure that the policies so formulated are implemented by the entirety of government”. Tendai Biti, speaking for MDC-T, rejected the circular as “unconstitutional, null and void”.

The National Security Council [NSC] met on Friday 5th February for the second time since its establishment nearly a year ago. Under the NSC Act the Council should have been meeting monthly.

JOMIC’s first annual review of progress on GPA implementation and achievements is due soon under GPA Article 23, 13th February being the anniversary of the formation of the Inclusive Government. Co-chair and spokesman Welshman Ncube has said a report is being prepared and will be made public.

GNU faces problems with striking workers: The civil service decision to strike may trigger strikes in other sectors and there is insufficient revenue to satisfy demands, but salaries well below the cost of living index are seen as a failure by the GNU to deliver on peoples’ expectations. The situation is exacerbated by the Famine Early Warning Network’s estimate that over a million Zimbabweans need food aid over the next two months.

Negotiations on GPA Disputes: The negotiators from the three parties are due to meet again on Monday 8th February. The South African facilitation team is expected in Harare the same day to assess the position and report back to President Zuma ahead of a visit by him to Harare tentatively scheduled for 13th February. Mr Tsvangirai has said “I have said to our party representatives let's finalize this, let's not procrastinate ….let's see what we have agreed and what we have not agreed….Therefore we are able to say to President Zuma and SADC that ZANU-PF is refusing to implement and therefore as far as we are concerned the only solution is that let's agree on a road map to an election."

Update on Constitutional Commissions

The Prime Minister has said that Friday’s executive meeting confirmed Judge Simpson Mtambanengwe as chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] and Professor Reg Austin as chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission [ZHRC] and that members of those commissions and the Zimbabwe Media Commission [ZMC], would be sworn in this coming week. Commission members-designate have not, however, received any official notification of their appointments.

Parliamentary Update

POSA Amendment Bill [Mr Gonese’s Private Member’s Bill] had its First Reading on Tuesday afternoon and was referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee to check that it conforms with the Constitution. It is also under consideration by the House’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs. At the committee’s first meeting on the Bill, the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Melusi Matshiya, said that the proposed amendments would “weaken the police force and make their operations ineffective” and Police Commissioner Mubatapasango claimed they would “put State security at risk”. The committee have invited Hon Gonese to their next meeting at 10 am on Monday 8th February to defend his Bill [the meeting will be open to the public].

Uproar over ZANU-PF motion on sanctions: on Wednesday Hon Bhasikiti [ZANU-PF] tried to introduce a motion calling on “the Hon. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the Hon. Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara to engage the European Union, the United Nations, the British and the American governments to urgently and unconditionally remove the illegal sanctions imposed at their instigation on the government and people of Zimbabwe as confessed in the British Parliament by the Foreign Affairs Secretary Mr David Miliband". MDC-T members objected and ZANU-PF members responded noisily, leading to such pandemonium that Deputy Speaker Hon. Khumalo, presiding in the Speaker’s absence, adjourned the sitting. Afterwards MDC-T Chief Whip Hon Gonese said the motion was “against the letter and spirit of the global political agreement.” [Note: Hon Bhasikiti’s motion was not notified to the Deputy Speaker in advance, contrary to reports in the State media. Although Standing Orders do not specify that the Speaker [or Deputy] must be notified of motions, this has been a long-standing practice, introduced well over ten years ago as a courtesy to the Speaker and to avoid just this sort of situation.] When the House resumed on Thursday Hon Bhasikiti duly gave notice of his motion, and it is due to be introduced next week.

Next Week’s Parliamentary Agenda

House of Assembly: The Order Paper for Tuesday 9th February includes Hon Bhasikiti’s motion on sanctions, another new motion on disbursements of inputs to farmers and the establishment of irrigation schemes, and continuation of debate on motions already introduced.

Senate: The Order Paper for Tuesday includes the controversial Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill, for which proposed amendments have been tabled, as well as motions carried over and a few questions for Ministers.

14th AU Summit: 25th January to 2nd February, Addis Ababa

At the three-day Assembly of Heads of State and Government that concluded the Summit, President Bingu wa Mutharikwa of Malawi was elected as AU Chairperson for the next year. As at the previous summit in Libya, the Assembly called for the immediate lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was elected to the Peace and Security Council for a 3-year term with effect from the 1st April, along with Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Libya, and Nigeria, and ten other states were elected for 2-year terms [Burundi, Chad, Djibouti, Rwanda, Mauritania, Namibia, South Africa, Bénin, Ivory Coast and Mali]. The Council is the AU’s standing organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa and functions as a collective security and early-warning arrangement to facilitate timely and efficient response to conflict and crisis situations.

Appeal against Decision not to register SADC Tribunal Order

There is to be an appeal to the Supreme Court against Justice Patel’s 26th January refusal to register the SADC Tribunal’s order in the Campbell case, which ruled that Zimbabwe’s land reform programme breached the SADC Treaty and accordingly ordered the Government to protect the farmers from eviction or pay proper compensation to those already evicted. If the appeal against Justice Patel’s judgement [Copy available] fails, the appellants will report this to the Tribunal and if the Tribunal decides that Zimbabwe has failed to comply with the Tribunal’s order, it must then “report its finding to the [SADC] Summit for the latter to take appropriate action” [SADC Protocol on the Tribunal, Article 32]. Meanwhile, the Tribunal’s registrar has confirmed the official SADC position that Zimbabwe is a member of the Tribunal and bound by its decisions. This week a South African court has ruled that the South African government’s failure to protect the interests of a South African national evicted from his farm in Zimbabwe makes it liable to compensate him for loss suffered.

Legislation Update

Acts Gazetted: None

Bill in House of Assembly: POSA Amendment Bill awaiting the PLC report before proceeding to Second Reading. [Electronic version available]

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

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

Statutory instruments: SI 21/2010, in a Gazette Extraordinary dated 29th January, enacts the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (General) Regulations, which will come into operation on 1st March.

SIs 15 to 20/2010 of 29th January enact new fees payable to the Medicines Control Authority under the Dangerous Drugs Regulations and Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act and regulations.

SIs 22, 23, 25 and 26/2010, dated 5th February, amend customs duties and suspensions. SI 24/2010 introduces the COMESA simplified customs form for small-scale traders importing consignments worth less than US$500 from Zambia.

General Notices 8A and 8B/2010, dated 28th January, notify the revocation of specifications of individuals and private companies under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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

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