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  • MDC-T protests cause shock Senate adjournment until February - Bill Watch 46/2010
    November 10, 2010

    The Senate adjourned this afternoon until 8th February 2011

    Row in the Senate

    For the second day running MDC-T Senators brought the Senate to a standstill in protest against the presence of “intruders”. Immediately after the opening prayer MDC-T Senator Tichaona Mudzingwa rose to object to the presence of Thokozile Mathuthu, David Karimanzira, Jason Machaya and Faber Chidarikire in the House. [These are persons who the MDC-T say are no longer ex officio members of the Senate, as they were illegally and unconstitutionally appointed as provincial governors by President Mugabe.] The President of the Senate refused to accept the objection, whereupon the MDC-T Senators starting singing, dancing and whistling and made such a noise that the President of the Senate rose to adjourn the Senate until February. No business was conducted. MDC-M Senators present did not join in the demonstration.

    Today’s events were a repeat of yesterday’s adjournment without business being conducted, after MDC-T made a similar protest against the presence of Thokozile Mathuthu.

    MDC-T Position on Provincial Governors in the Senate

    The MDC-T position is that MDC-T Senators will continue to prevent the Senate conducting any business until the issue of provincial governors’ appointments has been resolved.

    Effect of the Senate Adjournment on Pending Bills

    Budget Bills

    Following consultations on the Budget, it is expected that the Budget for 2011 will soon be presented to the House of Assembly together with the Appropriation and Finance Bills. These are money bills and Schedule 4, paragraph 6, of the Constitution contains special provision to permit a “money bill” passed by the House of Assembly to be presented to the President for assent if it hasn’t been passed by the Senate within eight sitting days.

    Other Bills

    During the adjournment of the Senate it will be impossible for Parliament to complete the passage of any Bills in the ordinary way, i.e., with both Houses assenting to them. Nevertheless Schedule 4, paragraph 5, of the Constitution contains special provision for the enactment, without Senate approval, of a Bill certified by a Vice-President or Minister to be “so urgent that it is not in the national interest to delay its enactment” – but it is difficult to see any of the Bills presently awaiting attention qualifying for that description.

    If a Bill not certified as urgent by a Vice-President or Minister has been passed by the House but not by the Senate, it may be sent to the President for assent, but only after the expiry of ninety days.

    Bills already in Parliament:

    Bills awaiting Introduction:

    • Deposit Protection Corporation Bill
    • General Laws Amendment Bill
    • Small Enterprises Development Corporation Amendment Bill
    • National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill.

    Early Recall of Senate Possible if Issue of Provincial Governors Resolved

    If the issue over the provincial governors is resolved before the 8th February, it will be possible for the Senate to be recalled early. Senate Standing Order 187 empowers the President of the Senate, at the request of President Mugabe, to recall the Senate for an earlier meeting if the “public interest” so requires.

    Note: the Senate could be recalled at any time, even if the provincial governor problem is not resolved, but this is unlikely to happen as it would, no doubt, lead to further incidents.

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