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This article participates on the following special index pages:

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


  • Urban Councils to get special interest councillors - Bill Watch 15/2010
    Veritas
    April 15, 2010

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

    Update on Inclusive Government

    The “Agreed Package” announced by President Zuma on 18th March is still shrouded in secrecy, raising the question, did President Zuma really forge an acceptable agreement or is he playing for time until after the FIFA World cup? On 26th March President Mugabe told the ZANU-PF Central Committee there had been no agreement on the Gono, Tomana and Bennett issues, or on sharing of provincial governorships, and also said “there cannot be any further concessions from us unless the illegal sanctions are gone”.

    Negotiators report ready: The party teams resumed negotiations on 25th March and presented a “verbal report” on 31st March to the South African facilitation team. The written report was finished on 2nd April and is being reviewed by the three party principals. The facilitation team are returning to Harare to discuss it and have said they will insist on broad agreement. It has already missed the 31st March deadline and this will further delay the comprehensive report which President Zuma is to give to the SADC Organ. The negotiators have remained tight-lipped about what they have achieved, but Minister Chinamasa has said that the report will list both points of agreement and of disagreements – so it is reasonably clear that points of disagreement remain. Sources report that unspecified electoral reforms have been agreed but that the Gono, Tomana, Bennett and provincial governors issues have not been resolved.

    Prime Minister wants SADC to break deadlock: In a statement on 31st March Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai praised President Zuma’s “dedication to breaking the impasse” but also said: “after the most recent round of negotiations it appears that the issues that have stalled progress for more than a year are still being used to avoid creating the open, free and prosperous society that our people demand and deserve. If this situation continues, I will ask President Zuma to call upon SADC to break the deadlock once and for all.” [Electronic version of PM’s full statement available on request.]

    Indigenisation Regulations

    No amendments to the regulations have been gazetted, so the 15th April target date for submission by businesses of completed form IDG01, showing current extent of indigenisation and, if appropriate, indigenisation plans, remains unchanged. The Minister of Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment announced that changes, if any, would come only after indigenisation plans submitted by businesses under the regulations had been considered by sectoral inter-ministerial committees and the committees had reported on appropriate changes.

    The Regulations are being Examined by the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] which has asked the Speaker for extra time within which to consider the constitutionality and validity of the regulations. If the PLC reports that provisions in the regulations are inconsistent with the Constitution and if the PLC report is endorsed by the Senate, the offending provisions will have to be repealed by the President unless the House of Assembly resolves they should stand [Constitution, Schedule 4 paragraph 8]. If the PLC reports that the regulations are consistent with the Constitution, but are ultra vires. i.e. beyond the powers conferred on the Minister by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, or are otherwise legally unsatisfactory, it will be up to the Minister to decide whether to do something about it – if he does nothing an adverse report would strengthen the case for affected businesses to challenge the regulations in court. [Veritas Bill Watch commentary on the indigenisation regulations available on request; also available – Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights submission to the PLC and the Portfolio Committee.]

    No Parliamentary Committee Meetings This Week

    No Thematic or Portfolio Committee meetings have been scheduled for the week after the Easter break. Most committees have wound up pending business ahead of the anticipated April commencement of the constitution outreach programme, which will involve nearly all Parliamentarians.

    The State v Roy Bennett: Judgment Postponed to 10th May!

    Justice Bhunu was to have given his decision on the defence application for Mr Bennett’s discharge on Wednesday 31st March. But the judge said his judgment was not ready and postponed the case to 10th May, after the court vacation. Mr Bennett has now also been summoned to answer charges of contravening the Grain Marketing Act in 2001, but this appears to be a police initiative not sanctioned by the Attorney-General’s Office, which is to review the docket.

    Farmers Latest Efforts to Have SADC Tribunal Rulings Enforced

    A group of dispossessed commercial farmers have applied to the SADC Tribunal for [1] a declaration that Zimbabwe continues to be in contempt of the Tribunal’s earlier orders in the land cases and [2] for an order directing the SADC Summit to take action on Zimbabwe’s failure to uphold the Tribunal’s orders. [Under the SADC Treaty the Tribunal cannot enforce its orders against a member State; that is a matter for the SADC Summit.] The Tribunal made a finding of contempt against Zimbabwe in July 2008 and referred the finding to the SADC Summit “for appropriate action”, but the Summit has not yet acted.

    Chiadzwa

    Parliamentarians refused access: the Portfolio Committee for Mines and Energy, under the chairmanship of Hon Chindori-Chininga of ZANU-PF, arranged to visit Chiadzwa last week and travelled to Mutare for the purpose, armed with clearance from the Ministers of Home Affairs. But the committee was prevented from carrying out its intended inspection of operations, apparently because the Minister of Mines would not grant authorisation for the visit.

    In the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee: Following the in camera appearance of the Permanent Secretary and Minister before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy the previous week, representatives of the Mbada and Canadile companies appeared before an open meeting of the Committee on 23rd March. [After initial resistance the Permanent Secretary, the Minister and the company directors eventually recognised the Committee’s right to insist on their presence under the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act.]

    The Kimberley Process Monitor for Zimbabwe, Mr Abbey Chikane, has compiled a report on his fact-finding visit to the country in early March. One of his observations on the operations at Chiadzwa is: “Too many government agencies are involved in monitoring and handling rough diamonds. This poses the danger of diamonds being swapped or stolen in the process.” [Full report available on request.]

    Urban Councils to get Special Interest Councillors

    Statutory Instrument 79/2010 [Electronic version available on request.] was gazetted on 2nd April and specifies the numbers of non-voting special interest councillors to be appointed to each of the country’s urban councils by the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development in terms of section 4A of the Urban Councils Act. [Section 4A was added to the Act when it was amended in January 2008 as part of the package of reforms agreed by the three political parties ahead of the 2008 harmonised elections.]

    Under section 4A each urban council consists of:

    • one elected councillor for each ward of the council area, and
    • a number of appointed councillors “representing special interests” fixed by Minister for the particular council by statutory instrument, the number fixed not to exceed one quarter of the number of elected councillors.

    In statutory instrument 79/2010 the Minister has fixed the maximum possible number of special interest councillors for every urban council, e.g., in Harare, which has 46 elected councillors, there are to be 11 appointed; in Bulawayo, which has 29 elected councillors there are to be 7 appointed.

    Note: Special interest appointed councillors have been a feature of rural district councils for some years. The Minister’s appointment of councillors to rural district councils has been criticised as not truly representing special interests, the complaint being that he has simply appointed former ZANU-PF councillors to councils now dominated by MDC-T. The Minister has claimed his appointees have local government experience that new MDC councillors do not have. There are no criteria controlling the Minister’s use of the power to appoint special interest councillors. They hold office “at the pleasure of the Minister” [which means they can be removed by the Minister at any time without any reason given, making it likely that they will follow his instructions]. They do not have a vote at council meetings but otherwise are entitled to participate in the business of the council and to receive the same benefits as elected councillors, e.g., allowances.]

    Legislation Update

    Acts: Four Acts were gazetted this week:

    Financial Adjustments Act (8/2009), gazetted and into force 2nd April. [Passed by Parliament 3rd December 2009]

    Public Finance Management Act (11/2009), gazetted and into force 2nd April. [Passed by Parliament 17th December 2009] This Act repeals the State Loans and Guarantees Act and the Audit and Exchequer Act, but loans and guarantees previously contracted are not affected and all existing statutory instruments under those Acts continue in force.

    Audit Office Act (12/2009), gazetted 2nd April 2010, but not yet in force [Passed by Parliament 17th December 2009.] This Act will come into force on a date to be fixed by the President by statutory instrument.

    Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Act (1/2010), gazetted and into force 31st March 2010. [Passed by Parliament 9th March 2010.] [Electronic version available on request.]

    All Acts of 2009 have now been gazetted.

    Bill in House of Assembly: Public Order and Security Amendment Bill. [Private Members Bill in second reading stage]

    Statutory Instruments: SI 79/2010 provides for Ministerial appointees on all urban councils [see note on Urban Councils get Special Interest Councillors above]. SI 80/2010 provides for customs duty rebates on engine spares, motor vehicles and components for the National Railways.

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