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Dispute over Provincial Governors - Bill Watch 42/2010
Veritas
October 11, 2010

The House of Assembly sat on Tuesday and Wednesday and will sit again on Tuesday 12th October

The Senate will meet on 12th October after its three-month recess

Dispute over Provincial Governors Likely to Affect Tomorrow’s Senate Meeting

When the Senate resumes after its three-month recess there is likely to be controversy over the ten Senate seats allocated to Provincial Governors. Provincial Governors are ex officio members of the Senate. Given the MDC-T rejection of the President’s reappointment of the ten ZANU-PF governors as illegal and unconstitutional, MDC-T Senators can be expected to object to the presence of any provincial governors who may report for Senate duty on Tuesday. Mr Tsvangirai in his statement last Thursday [see below] said “I will be advising the President of the Senate of the improper appointment of Governors, and that they should therefore not be considered members of the Senate”. On 27th September MDC-T parliamentarians attending a Pan-African Parliament workshop at the Victoria Falls walked out in protest when Matabeleland North Provincial Governor Thokozile Mathuthu addressed the gathering; they said she was not the legitimate governor because her term of office had expired at the end of August.

The row over the Provincial Governors came to a head when on Thursday 7th October Prime Minister Tsvangirai issued a strong statement complaining of breaches of the GPA by President Mugabe. This followed a meeting on Monday 4th October with President Mugabe, who told the Prime Minister that he had unilaterally re-appointed the ten ZANU PF provincial governors. This, said Mr Tsvangirai, was one breach too many of the Constitutional provision requiring his agreement as Prime Minister to the making of key appointments by the President. He said that with immediate effect the MDC would refuse to recognize all the unilateral appointments that have been made by Mr Mugabe.

POSA Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

Having gone through its Second Reading with the support of both MDC and ZANU PF, this Bill goes into Committee Stage [during this stage the House sits as a Committee and the Bill is debated clause by clause; it is during this stage amendments can be made]. The Bill’s sponsor, Innocent Gonese, has tabled one amendment for consideration – the deletion of clause 7(3) of the Bill – a provision which would empower a magistrate who has imposed a temporary ban on public demonstrations to vary or revoke the ban. This amendment was prompted by a suggestion from the Parliamentary Legal Committee when it examined by the Bill. Further amendments are expected to be tabled by Makhosini Hlongwane of ZANU-PF, but these are not yet known and are not on tomorrow’s order paper.

In the House of Assembly last week

POSA Amendment Bill: The Second Reading of the POSA Amendment Bill was completed on Tuesday, with contributions from several members, including two ZANU-PF MPs who said ZANU-PF supported the Bill.

Questions Without Notice: On Wednesday most of the sitting time was taken up by the hour set aside for questions without notice on aspects of Government policy. MPs complained that some Ministers were not present to field questions. There were no questions with notice on the Order Paper [these are questions on matters of fact and detail requiring prior written notice to the Ministers concerned, and they are printed in the Order Paper].

Note the PM has made a strong statement that he will ensure Ministers turn up for Question Time. The Prime Minister has also said he will be introducing a Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] – Adverse Reports: On Wednesday the Speaker announced that the PLC had reported on all statutory instruments gazetted during June, July, August and September. SIs 102, 106 and 113 were given adverse reports, signifying the PLC’s opinion that they are inconsistent with the Declaration of Rights. All other statutory instruments received non-adverse reports. [See below for more on the adverse reports.]

Motions: The debate on the President’s speech opening the last session of Parliament was concluded with the passage of the traditional motion of thanks to the President. On Wednesday debate commenced on the President’s speech opening the present session [see Bill Watch 28/2010 of 16th July for details of the speech.]. No new motions were tabled.

In Parliament This Week

House of Assembly

First Readings for Three Bills: The Criminal Law Amendment (Protection of Power, Communication and Water Infrastructure) Bill, the Zimbabwe National Security Council Amendment Bill and the Attorney General’s Office Bill are down for First Reading on Tuesday. They will then be referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] for its report on whether or not they are consistent with the Constitution, particularly the Declaration of Rights. Only after the PLC has reported to the House can the Bills be taken further. [The Energy Regulatory Authority Bill, although printed and gazetted and therefore ready for presentation, has not been set down for First Reading.]

Motions: The only motion on the agenda is the motion for the debate on the President’s speech opening the present Parliamentary session.

Senate

The Senate agenda is light. There are no Bills for consideration. The only motions for discussion are those on the President’s speeches opening the previous Parliamentary session and the current session.

PLC Adverse Reports on Statutory Instruments

Three statutory instruments have been given adverse reports:

SIs 102/2010 [Epworth heavy vehicle parking by-laws] and 113/2010 [Epworth land and building by-laws]: The PLC report states that both are unconstitutional to the extent that they allow officials to collect fines from alleged offenders without recourse to the judicial system.

SI 106/2010 contains Plumtree Town Council by-laws: The PLC report finds the statement of possible penalties for breaches of the by-laws to be unconstitutionally vague.

The Constitution provides that all adverse reports on statutory instruments are tabled in both Houses but it is the Senate that first has to consider whether or not they agree with the PLC’s adverse report. If the Senate passes a resolution agreeing with the PLC’s adverse report and if the House of Assembly does not thereafter override the Senate by resolving that the statutory instrument should remain in force, the matter must be reported to the President and the President must gazette a notice annulling the statutory instrument [Constitution, Schedule 4, paragraph 8].

Parliamentary Committees

Standing Rules and Orders Committee – Changes in Membership: Following their appointments to ministerial positions in the June MDC-T Cabinet Reshuffle, Tapiwa Mashakada, Obert Gutu and Tongai Matutu have resigned from the committee. Their replacements are three MDC-T nominees: Dorcas Sibanda and Ellias Mudzuri from the House of Assembly and Jabulani Ndlovu from the Senate. Their unopposed election to the committee was announced by the Speaker on Tuesday. The Committee is expected to meet next week. [The SROC is Parliament’s most important committee. Among other functions it is responsible for nominating members for appointment to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, the Zimbabwe Media Commission, and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe Board; it must also be consulted on the appointment of members of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.] [Full list of current members available on request]

Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]: The PLC is expected to meet this week to consider new Bills introduced and any amendments made to the POSA Amendment Bill.

Public Accounts Committee – New Chairperson: Webber Chinyadza is the new chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, succeeding Tapiwa Mashakada, who became Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion in the June Cabinet reshuffle.

Portfolio Committees – Changes in Membership: MDC-T has made changes in its representation on portfolio committees, deploying MPs who have become available for service on committees since leaving ministerial office in the June Cabinet reshuffle..

Portfolio and Thematic Committee meetings: These committees will sit this week for inaugural meetings and meetings to consider work plans for the session. None of these meetings will be open to members of the general public.

Update on Bills

Bills Ready for First Reading [Brief Summaries of all four Bills ready for First Reading were given in Bill Watch 39 of 4th October}

Zimbabwe National Security Council Amendment Bill [Electronic versions available: (1) Bill and (2) Zimbabwe National Security Council Act showing effect of proposed amendments]

Criminal Law Amendment (Protection of Power, Communication and Water Infrastructure) Bill [Electronic version of Bill available]

Attorney-General’s Office Bill: See also a fuller discussion of the Bill in Bill Watch 41 of 7th October. [Electronic version of Bill available]

Energy Regulatory Authority Bill: [Electronic version now available]

Bills being printed [content not yet available]

Deposit Protection Corporation Bill: In his speech opening Parliament in mid-July the President said this Bill would transform the existing Deposit Protection Scheme, set up under the Banking Act, into an independent statutory entity. The object is to provide compensation for depositors if banking institutions fail.

General Laws Amendment Bill: The proper purpose of General Laws Amendment Bills is to make minor updating amendments to Acts of Parliament, but they are sometimes used to make important changes.

Small Enterprises Development Corporation Amendment Bill: no details yet available.

Statutory Instruments and General Notices

No statutory instruments or General Notices of general interest were gazetted last week.

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

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