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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 9 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
March 11, 2011

House of Assembly Plenary

Only a handful of Ministers attended the sitting on Wednesday to respond to questions by backbenchers. This was despite Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Mutambara's assurances to the House that he would ensure that Ministers attended question time sessions. As a result of absence of the majority of Ministers, backbenchers only raised a few questions for those Ministers who were in the House.

ZISCO - Essar Deal

Hon Edward Cross enquired from the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Hon Welshman Ncube, on the ZISCO-Essar deal on how it would affect the livelihood of workers and also if the workers would be paid their outstanding salaries. The Minister informed the House that government of Zimbabwe and Essar were taking over all of ZISCO's debts including outstanding salaries.

Closure of Companies

Hon Fred Kanzama asked the Minister of Industry and Commerce to comment on the closure of big companies due to lack of support from central government. The minister informed the House that companies were closing chiefly because of the absence of long-term credit facilities.

Seizure of Foreign Owned Companies

In response to a question by Hon. Settlement Chikwinya on government policy regarding threats to repossess close to 500 British and American owned companies in the country as has been recently announced by ZANU PF, Prof. Ncube assured the House that there was no such government policy to repossess those companies and that Cabinet had not discussed the issue. He went on to say that if one party intended to repossess companies this did not make it government policy.

Invasion of Sugar Estates by War Veterans

The Minister of Industry and Commerce informed the House that the sugar industry was critical to the economy and hence government would not welcome its disruption. He was responding to a question by Hon. Festus Dumbu who wanted to know what government's position on the take-over of sugar estates in the lowveld by war veterans was.

Looming Starvation

Hon. Paul Mazikana sought to find out from the Minister of Labour and Social Services, Hon. Paurina Mpariwa government efforts on alleviating the plight of Zimbabweans who are facing drought due to insufficient rainfall particularly in Mbire and Rushinga districts. The Minister informed the House that government together with the donor community would ensure that no one starves in the country. She said Government would embark on the food for work programme.

Investigation on Outstanding Water and Electricity Bills

Hon. Gift Dzirutwe enquired from Professor Mutambara on progress by the inter-ministerial task force set up by government to investigate the issue of outstanding water and electricity bills which were resulting in these services being cut off. The Deputy Prime Minister informed the House that the task force was still carrying out its investigations and as for the issue of services being cut off the responsible ministry was better placed to answer the question.

Recent utterances by the Commissioner General of Police

Hon. Prince Matibe asked the co-Minister of the Organ on National Healing and Integration, Hon. Moses Mzila Ndlovu to comment on the recent utterances by the Commissioner General of Police that the investigations for the June 2010 atrocities were now being carried out by the Organ on National Healing and Integration. The co-Minister informed the House that his ministry was gravely concerned with the spectra of violence in the country and that an inter-ministerial meeting would be held on Thursday 10 March 2011 to map the way forward. The Minister further informed the House that the Commissioner General's utterances were unfortunate and they undermined the work of his ministry.

Plight of SMM Workers

Hon. Pearson Mungofa enquired on steps being taken by government to alleviate the plight of Shabani and Mashava Mines (SMM) employees and on what was being done to resolve issues bedevilling SMM Holdings. The Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Hon. Gift Chimanikire informed the House that the question would be better handled by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs as he was the one closely dealing with the SMM issues.

COPAC Outstanding Debts

Hon. Paul Mazikana asked the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs on the ministry's plans to settle COPAC outstanding debts arising from the outreach phase, in particular what was owed to individuals who participated in the programme. Hon. Adv. Eric Matinenga informed the House that the Ministry of Finance had availed $5 million dollars to COPAC to settle its debt amounting to $4.12 million.

History Lessons by War Veterans

Hon. Shepherd Mushonga enquired from the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture government's policy regarding the training of youth brigades in schools and the teaching of war history by war veterans in rural schools and in particular in Mazowe Central at Kakora School. Hon. David Coltart informed the House that government policy was that only qualified teachers should teach at schools. He urged MPs to desist from politicizing education as it was critical for the development of the country. He appealed to all MPs to safeguard education for the benefit of children.

Leakage of Examination of Papers

In response to a question by Hon. Edward Musumbu regarding the continued leakage of examination of papers, Hon. David Coltart informed the House that the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) had improved its security of examination papers but the challenge was now at school level.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and National Housing

The Chairman of the Public Works and National Housing Portfolio Committee, Hon. Lovemore Mupukuta presented the Committee's report on the need to constitutionalize housing. The report is based on the observation that the committee made after touring Epworth and Kariba local authorities. The Committee observed that in only 1% of houses in Epworth meet the laid down housing standards. The Committee further noted that 65% residents in Epworth town were informally settled and the problem was more pronounced in ward 7 where all the residents were informal settlers. In the light of the problems it observed during its tour of housing projects in Epworth and Kariba towns, the Committee is urging the government to constitutionalize housing and treat it as a basic human right.

Legislative Update

The following Bills are before the House of Assembly at various stages as shown below;

  • Deposit Protection Corporation Bill (H.B. 7, 2010) - Second Reading
  • Small Enterprises Development Corporation Amendment Bill (H.B. 9, 2010) - Committee Stage.
  • General Laws Amendment Bill (H.B. 8, 2010) - Second Reading
  • National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill [H.B. 10, 2010] - under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee (Referred 9th March 2011).

The House of Assembly ratified the following two Agreements on Wednesday 9 March 2011in terms of Subsection (1) of section 111B of the Constitution of Zimbabwe:

  • Zimbabwe-Brazil Agreement on Cultural Co-operation concluded in Brazil, on 16 September 1999.
  • International Convention against doping in sport signed on 19 October 2005, in Paris, France.

Adjournment of Parliament

The House of Assembly adjourned to 22 March whereas the Senate adjourned to 29 March 2011. Committees will continue with their business.

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