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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Inclusive government - Index of articles
  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
  • Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles

  • Update on inclusive government - Bill Watch 10/2010
    March 15, 2010

    The Senate has adjourned until Tuesday 16th June ,The House of Assembly will resume on Tuesday 16th March and is expected to adjourn soon thereafter

    Update on Inclusive Government

    Ministerial Functions: The President’s controversial allocation among Ministers of responsibility for administering Acts of Parliament will be on the agenda at the next meeting of the GPA party principals, due on Monday 15th March. [See Bill Watch 8/2010 of 6th March for more on the 33 statutory instruments spelling out the assignments.]

    President Zuma Expected on Tuesday: SA President Zuma is due in Harare on Tuesday 16th March for a two-day visit in an effort to break the current stalemate in the negotiations to resolve outstanding GPA issues and secure implementation of matters already agreed. His three-member mediation team will arrive on Monday to pave the way for his meetings with the party principals. [As the negotiators had only planned to meet again on the 26th March, President Zuma’s intervention may inject a note of urgency into the proceedings.]

    “Sanctions”: Switzerland has followed the lead of the EU and renewed travel restrictions on senior Zimbabwe officials.

    Lengthy Parliamentary Adjournment for Constitution Consultative Process

    By the end of this week it is expected that both Houses of Parliament will be adjourned until mid-June. This lengthy recess is at the request of the Select Committee on the Constitution and is designed to free members of Parliament to take part in the Constitution consultative process, which the Select Committee has estimated will take 65 days. This means that the POSA Amendment Bill cannot pass through Parliament before the Constitutional outreach starts – nor can there be any amendment of media legislation.

    [Note: At one stage the Select Committee professed to agree that there could be no meaningful Constitutional consultation unless there were legislative reforms leading to democratic freedom of association and expression.]

    Indigenisation Regulations: Latest

    The regulations are under intense scrutiny:

    • They were discussed for the second time by the Council of Ministers at its meeting on Thursday 11th March. It is expected that some amendments to the regulations will be gazetted, but these are not yet available.
    • The House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance, Economic Planning and Investment held a public hearing on the regulations in Bulawayo on Friday and will hold another at the Harare International Conference Centre on Monday 15th March at 10 am [for further details see Bill Watch Special of 10th March].
    • They will be considered by the Parliamentary Legal Committee on Tuesday 16th March. The PLC’s principal task is to consider the constitutionality of the regulations and whether or not they are ultra vires the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act [Constitution, section 40B]. [Interested parties may make written submissions only.]
    • They are being analysed by the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce and the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, Gender and Community Development [these are closed meetings].

    In the Senate Last Week

    The Senate met on 9th and 10th March. The House of Assembly did not sit last week.

    Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill : The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill [as amended by the House of Assembly] was passed without amendment; amendments tabled by Senator Mutsvangwa of ZANU-PF and Senator Gutu of MDC-T were dropped, following behind the scenes discussions. This means that the Bill as amended by the House of Assembly will become law once assented to by the President and gazetted as an Act. [Bill as amended by House of Assembly available on request.] .

    BIPPA between Zimbabwe and SA approved : The Senate approved the Agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments. The Agreement has now been approved by both Houses. It will come into force 30 days after both countries have completed the necessary constitutional formalities; the commencement date will be officially notified in the Government Gazette in due course. [Copy of agreement available.]

    Motions: The Senate, without concluding debate, discussed:

    • the Report of the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security on the Role of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development
    • the Report of the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development on Access to Clean Water
    • Senator Gutu’s motion on the Effects of Climate Change on the Food Security Situation in Zimbabwe.

    Coming up in the House of Assembly this Week

    POSA Amendment Bill : The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs will meet on 15th March to finalise its report on the Bill and the public reaction to it emerging from its recent series of public hearings. The Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] has considered the Bill and is due to present its report to the House of Assembly this week. If the report is adverse [i.e. if the PLC has found the Bill to be inconsistent with the Constitution] the Bill’s progress is likely to be delayed while adjustments to the Bill are agreed. If the House of Assembly is able to pass the Bill before adjourning to June, the Bill will still have to go to the Senate – and the Senate will not be able to consider it until it returns in mid-June. [Available: [1] POSA with all amendments to date; [2] POSA annotated to show the effect of the changes proposed by the Bill.]

    Motions : Motions on the Order Paper for Tuesday include Hon Gonese’s motion calling for a Select Committee to investigate 2008 election violence.

    Question Time : There are 39 written questions to be answered by Ministers during the hour set aside for Questions with Notice on Wednesday afternoon.

    Bid to Unseat Speaker Dismissed by High Court

    On Tuesday Justice Patel dismissed the application by Professor Jonathan Moyo, MP, and three other MPs to nullify the August 2008 election of Hon Lovemore Moyo as Speaker of the House of Assembly. The main complaint was that because some MPs had displayed their marked ballot papers to other MPs before depositing them in the ballot box, the ballot was not secret, as required by House of Assembly Standing Orders. Justice Patel held that, although the evidence established that at least 6 of the 208 MPs present had brandished their marked ballot papers in front of colleagues, they had done so voluntarily after first marking the ballot papers in the secrecy of the voting booths provided. “There is nothing to show that any of the Members in the House did not cast their votes in secret or that the Members who did display their votes did so under any threat or duress. … they did so of their own free will and, more significantly, they did so after having cast their votes in secret.” [Full text of judgment available.] Professor Moyo’s lawyer has already noted an appeal to the Supreme Court.

    State Closes its Case in Bennett Trial

    The Attorney-General closed the State case in the trial of Roy Bennett on Monday 8th March. Defence counsel Beatrice Mtetwa immediately applied for Mr Bennett’s discharge, arguing that the State had not made out a sufficient case to put Mr Bennett on his defence. She pointed in particular to the failure of the State’s principal witness to implicate Mr Bennett in the alleged offences and to the State’s failure to prove the authenticity of email messages allegedly incriminating him. The Attorney-General opposed the application. Justice Bhunu said he would announce his decision on 31st March. If the judge grants the application for discharge, that will be the end of the case and Mr Bennett will be acquitted – which would wipe out the excuse so often put forward for President Mugabe’s refusal to swear him in as Deputy Minister of Agriculture. [Although, on the principle of innocent until found guilty, other Ministers in the past have been sworn in with criminal trials pending.] If the application is dismissed, the case will continue and the defence will have the opportunity to present its case and call witnesses.

    Chiadzwa Diamonds Dispute

    African Consolidated Resources [ACR] has brought an urgent application in the High Court contesting the current attempt by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to cancel its Chiadzwa mining rights on a new ground. The Ministry’s lawyer said that no further action will be taken on the threatened cancellation until the High Court has given its decision.

    Legislation Update

    Acts: No Acts were gazetted this week.

    Bills passed by Parliament awaiting gazetting as Acts: Financial Adjustments Bill, Public Finance Management Act and Audit Office Bill [all passed last year] and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill [which received its final reading in the Senate on 9th March].

    Bill in House of Assembly: POSA Amendment Bill.
    Statutory Instruments: The only statutory instrument gazetted last week contained by-laws made by Chegutu Municipal Council.

    General Notices: GN 39A/2010, gazetted on 10th March, notifies the cancellation of Mr James A.K. Mushore’s specification under the Prevention of Corruption Act [which occurred in 2004].

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