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Summary of Parliamentary proceedings for Tuesday 7 December 2010
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
December 08, 2010

Both Houses resumed business yesterday, Tuesday 7 December 2010 to consider urgent business before parliament, namely the 2011 National Budget, presented to the House by the Minister of Finance on Thursday 25 November 2010. The Senate had to be recalled to sit earlier than the date to which it been adjourned. The Senate had abruptly adjourned to 8 February 2011 following disruptions in the House by MDC-T Senators who were protesting the presence of Governors in the House, whose re-appointment they said was unconstitutional.

House of Assembly Plenary

Budget Debate

Budget debate dominated business in the House of Assembly yesterday. The Chairman of the Portfolio Committee on Budget Finance and Investment Promotion, Hon. Paddy Zhanda (ZANU PF), took the centre stage as he presented the committee’s report on the 2011 National Budget Proposals. Hon. Zhanda’s report mainly focused on the macro-economic aspects of the budget. While his committee commended the Minister of Finance for consulting widely for the 2011 National Budget, the Committee was not happy with certain aspects of the budget, namely; inadequate funding to the agricultural sector, low tax levels for the mining sector and removal of customs duty on textile and some finished goods. The committee noted that the latter would lead to the collapse of the manufacturing sector, which was already reeling under the unfair competition from cheap imports.

Hon. Zhanda’s motion requesting the House to set aside budget debate until the Minister of Finance had addressed the aspects of the budget MPs were not happy with was dismissed by the Speaker on the basis that it flouted House procedures. The Speaker ruled that Hon. Zhanda could not move a motion within another motion and advised him to introduce a separate motion on the issue. Before accepting the Speaker’s advice, Hon. Zhanda warned the Minister of Finance that backbenchers were not going to pass the budget as long as their grievances had not been addressed. He said backbenchers were tired of rubber-stamping executive decisions. Thus he called on his fellow backbenchers not to be intimidated by the whipping system if parliament were to effectively exercise its powers.

Hon. Zhanda’s presentation was followed by presentations by Chairpersons of other portfolio committees, who presented their reports on the budget as it related to their specific sectors.

It appears the House exhausted debate on the budget yesterday after extensive debate by Chairpersons of Committees and backbenchers. The Minister of Finance will respond today to the issues raised by Members on the budget. It looks certain therefore that the budget could be passed either today or tomorrow. It appears the leadership of the 3 parties would want the budget passed this week despite argument by their Members to be given adequate time to debate the budget.

[Electronic copies of all committee reports on the budget presented to parliament are available at SAPST and can be availed upon request.]

Senate Plenary

The anticipated showdown between ZANU PF and MDC-T Senators never materialized. The Senate business went ahead without any incident despite the presence of ZANU PF Governors, whose presence in the House MDC-T Senators objected to last month, leading to the abrupt adjournment of the Senate to 8 February 2011.

In terms of Section 111B of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Senate approved 4 international agreements. These were;

  • Agreement on the Establishment of the Zambezi Watercourse Commission
  • Loan Agreement between Government of Zimbabwe and Export-Import Bank of China relating to Zimbabwe’s 2G and 3G National Network Rollout Project being implemented by Net One;
  • Agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments between the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Government of the Republic of South Africa, and;
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Water Supply and Wastewater Management Policy and Technology between the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Republic of Korea.
  • Election of Speaker and President of Senate to Regional Bodies

The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Lovemore Moyo was elected Chairperson of the SADC Parliamentary Forum for the next 2 years.

On the other hand, the President of the Senate, Hon. Edna Madzongwe was elected the Deputy President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) Executive Committee, representing Southern African region. She will occupy this position until 2012.

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