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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


  • President Zuma's new deadline for interparty negotiators - Bill Watch 11/2010
    Veritas
    March 22, 2010

    The House of Assembly has adjourned until Wednesday 30th June, The Senate has adjourned until Tuesday 16th June

    This adjournment is to free up Parliamentarians for the Constitutional outreach to consult the people. Legislative reforms are once more delayed and the consultation will take place before the reforms needed to ensure freedom of speech, press freedom and freedom of assembly. [In Article 17 of the GPA the parties agreed that “the legislative agenda would be prioritized in order to reflect the letter and spirit of this Agreement” and “the Government will discuss and agree on further legislative measures which may become necessary to implement the Government’s agreed policies and in particular with a view to entrenching democratic values and practices”. Eighteen months after the signing of the GPA and thirteen months after the formation of the inclusive government, no Government Bills to entrench democratic values and practices have reached Parliament, unless one counts the Public Finance Management Bill, passed in December but still not gazetted as law.]

    Update on Inclusive Government

    President Zuma’s Visit: He was in Harare from 16th to 18th March as SADC facilitator for the implementation of the GPA and met the three party principals, the negotiators, the Reserve Bank Governor, the Attorney-General and Roy Bennett, MDC-T’s Deputy Minister designate of Agriculture. He made a short and uninformative statement at a press conference, but declined to answer questions. He said the parties had “agreed to a package of measures to be implemented concurrently as per the decision of the SADC Troika in Maputo” and he believed the implementation of this package “will take the process forward substantially”. The party leaders had instructed their negotiating teams “to attend to all outstanding matters during their deliberations on 25th, 26th and 29th March and to report back to the Facilitator by the 31st of March”. President Zuma would then present a comprehensive report to the Chairperson of the SADC Organ Troika. [Full text of President Zuma’s statement available.] There has been no official statement on the contents of the “package”. Once again Zimbabweans are kept in the dark and the only point of substance emerging is that there are new deadlines replacing previous unmet deadlines.

    Speculation and “leaks” have centred on:

    · official appointments: [i.e. the President’s unilateral appointment of the Reserve Bank Governor and Attorney-General and refusal to swear in Senator Bennett as deputy Minister.] Rumours suggest Mr Gono staying in his post, with reduced powers under the amended Reserve Bank Act, or resigning to run his personal business empire; Mr Tomana moving to become a High Court judge; and Mr Bennett being assigned another Deputy Minister post if his current trial ends in acquittal. [If it is true that Mr Bennett may be assigned to another Ministry in deference to ZANU-PF objections, this would call into question whether MDC is entitled to object to ZANU-PF Ministerial appointments.]

    • appointment of provincial governors: it is said that governorships will be divided between the three parties in a manner still to be agreed by the negotiators, but appointments will not be made until late August when terms of the present ten ZANU-PF governors come to an end. [The Prime Minister announced nearly a year ago that a 5-4-1 apportionment had been agreed, 5 for MDC-T, 4 for ZANU-PF and 1 for MDC-M, and named the MDC-T nominees, and, as a concession, said MDC would wait for their appointments until last August.]
    • removal of “sanctions”: it is said that a team of Ministers from all three parties will visit Western countries next month to press for the lifting of recently renewed sanctions. [In fact neither Zimbabwe nor President Zuma can make this part of “the agreed package”. Zimbabwe, which constantly emphasises its own sovereignty – it is written into the preamble to the GPA – must be aware that it cannot insist that the governments of other countries, who are answerable to their Parliaments and electorates, receive “listed” prohibited visitors or remove what they term “restrictive measures”. So once again the suggested inclusion of the removal of sanctions looks like merely a leverage device against MDC-T.]

    Significant Omissions:

    • Allocation of Powers to Ministers: there have been no leaks about steps to correct President Mugabe's recent unilateral allocation to his own ZANU-PF Ministers of substantial powers that ought to be with MDC-T Ministers. These included significant control of the electoral machinery. [This could mean that ZANU-PF believes it can give way on Gono and Tomana and provincial governors, as long as it retains the means to ensure victory in the next election, which is being mooted for next year and which will end the inclusive government.]
    • Media and other Legislative Reforms: there was no mention of these in press leaks and yet the GPA called for these “to entrench democratic values and practices”. [These were considered an essential part of the GPA and have been expected since the formation of the inclusive government in February 2009; they were outlined in Parliament shortly thereafter and have still not even surfaced as Bills. They are essential precursors to future elections – otherwise Zimbabwe will be back in the position it was in in 2002.]

    Comment: The question is – is this a real breakthrough or does it merely signal just another round of negotiations to meet yet another deadline? There is still non-compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding [July 2008] and the GPA [September 2008], which were supposed to finalise negotiations mediated by South Africa dating back to the disputed 2002 Presidential election. As one distinguished journalist has put it: “a weary world is asking how many more times we have to hear the Zimbabweans agree once again to do what they have already agreed to do so many times before.”

    In the House of Assembly Last Week

    The House met on 16th, 17th and 18th March. The Senate did not sit.

    POSA Amendment Bill: The PLC presented a non-adverse report on the Bill on Wednesday 17th March after agreeing with Hon Gonese on a small amendment. Moving the Second Reading, Hon Gonese explained the principles of his Bill and the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs’ report on the Bill was presented. After that Hon Gonese requested the adjournment of the debate to allow members to study the Portfolio Committee’s report. [This means that there will be no further progress on the Bill until the House resumes at the end of June, and little hope of the Bill going through the Senate and becoming law before August.] [Portfolio Committee report available on request.]

    Motions: MDC-T chief whip Hon Gonese introduced his motion calling for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate the violence that marred the period between the March 2008 harmonised elections and the June 2008 Presidential run-off election. He and his seconder, Hon Tabitha Khumalo, presented statistics of violence perpetrated. ZANU-PF’s Hon Gumbo said there had been violence from both sides and that the suggested investigation would not help; instead efforts should focus on avoiding a repetition of such violence in future. Hon Matonga [ZANU-PF] presented a document listing violence allegedly committed by MDC-T against ZANU-PF supporters. Debate will continue when the House resumes in June.

    Question Time:

    • Constituency Development Funds: Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Matinenga told the House that the Ministry of Finance would not be disbursing money for Constituency Development Funds until after June.
    • Army Involvement in Political Campaigning: Defence Minister Mnangagwa was asked about government's policy on the use of army personnel in campaigning for political parties; he replied that there was “no policy by the Government of Zimbabwe to use the army for political activities.” In answer to a supplementary question asking for an explanation of the continued presence of army personnel in wards “threatening people and villagers”, the Minister said there had “never been any formal deployment of soldiers in the manner stated. It is true ten percent of the army at one time is on leave and when they go on leave, they stay in the provinces they come from and are not on duty.”

    Review of Standing Orders: Last year the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders appointed a sub-committee to review Standing Orders for both Houses. The sub-committee has invited submissions from members on “specific areas in the Standing Orders that require to be reviewed”, to reach the Clerk of Parliament by 30th April. [Members of the public with ideas on improving Standing Orders may also make submissions, addressed to the Clerk of Parliament at P.O. Box CY298, Causeway or delivered to the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue entrance to Parliament.]

    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, so gazetting is now long overdue] and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill [which received its final reading in the Senate on 9th March. [Bill as amended by House of Assembly available on request.]

    Bill in House of Assembly: POSA Amendment Bill.

    Statutory Instruments: SI 72/2010 clarifies that the 10% rate of interest on unpaid capital gains tax, customs and excise duties and income tax, specified by SIs 5, 6 and 7/2010, is an annual rate. Other statutory instruments gazetted are local authority by-laws.

    General Notices: GN 50/2010 notifies the Minister of Finance’s approval of the share capital structure of the People’s Own Savings Bank [POSB], with an authorised capital of US$ 50 million divided into 50 million $1 shares and an initial issue to the State of 6 729 662 shares. As long as the State holds at least 51% of the issued share capital, the POSB board may now, with the Minister’s approval, issue shares to persons other than the State.

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