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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 8 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
March 18, 2011
The House of
Assembly and the Senate were not sitting this week as they had adjourned
to 22 March and 29 March respectively but Committees continued with
their meetings. Below is an update of activities of some Committees
during the week under review.
Committee on Industry and Commerce
conducted a public hearing on Tuesday 15 March 2011 at Parliament
on the National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill (H.B.
10, 2010). The Bill seeks to amend the parent Act, which was enacted
in 2007 during the height of hyper-inflation to establish a National
Incomes and Pricing Commission whose mandate was to develop pricing
models for goods and services produced in this country with a view
to balancing the viability of producers and the incomes and welfare
needs of the people of Zimbabwe.
things, the Amendment Bill seeks to downgrade the status of the
Commission to that of a Board.
that attended the public hearing and submitted their inputs included
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), Zimbabwe Teachers
Association (ZIMTA), the National Incomes and Prices Commission
(NIPC), Retailers Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ), the Consumer Council
of Zimbabwe (CCZ) and Zimbabwe Indigenous Economic Empowerment Organization
organizations were not agreed on the Bill; ZNCC, representing sentiments
of the business community were strongly opposed to the Bill, arguing
that it would affect the economy. ZNCC representatives said notwithstanding
the need to regulate abuse of the market forces by the business
community, they believed that a market economy was the best model
to achieve business and economic growth. They further indicated
that controls had resulted in shortages by decreasing production
levels and also harmed entrepreneurship. The Committee also heard
that when discussing anything to do with controls, there was need
to take into account variables like an increase in the Consumer
Price index, an increase in VAT and Excise duty, interest rate and
currency exchange rate fluctuations among other factors. The representatives
pointed out that these were real costs of production that could
not always be claimed as input costs hence the need to consider
the costs when talking of controls. On the Bill, the representatives
lauded the composition of the proposed board, which includes a number
of stakeholders from the private sector.
On his part,
the ZIMTA representative highlighted his organization's concern
with the proposed shift from a commission to a board. He argued
that, inherently, a board was weaker than a commission as the proposed
board would be subject to a Minister who might be driven by his/her
political inclination. The representative also indicated that they
were worried about the proposed repeal of controls on incomes and
argued that the repeal would widen the salary and benefits gap between
executives and workers. In addition, he also lamented the proposed
removal of service charges from the ambit of the commission/board,
which would harm the economy and the general populace.
In their remarks,
NIPC representatives indicated that the amendment was aimed at regularizing
what was already the order of the day and to clean up the parent
Act and the controls that existed in the Zimbabwe Dollar environment.
The representatives further pointed out that at the moment, the
NIPC was limited to monitoring, advising and researching on what
was happening in terms of prices and incomes compared to other countries
in the region. As such, the Act needed to reflect what was obtaining
on the ground. The Committee also heard that the changes were necessary
because the market economy was not perfect and the proposed changes
would allow the proposed board to provide consumers with up-to-date
data on food prices in different shops.
Association of Zimbabwe representative told the Committee that the
Commission and the NIPC Act had not worked and consumers were worse
off because they couldn't get much from the shops. The representative
welcomed the current arrangement of allowing competition and market
forces to determine prices. The Committee also heard that national
employment councils (NECs) were effective enough to deal with income
issues. As such, the Association welcomed the proposal in the Bill
limiting the Commission's role.
In her remarks,
the CCZ representative Mrs. Siyachitema pointed out that the market
forces were imperfect and that her organization had observed that
profiteering and inflation was creeping back into the economy and
competition had not translated into low prices. She acknowledged
that although the Commission had played its part, her organization
feared that no one would be left to regulate market forces if the
NIPC were to be abolished.
by the Committee from the public hearing would form the basis of
the Committee's report and recommendations on the Bill.
Committee on Mines and Energy
heard oral evidence from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM).
The committee was seeking clarification on the unbundling exercise
of NOCZIM and if any tender procedures were flouted when the Ministry
of Energy and Power Development purchased fuel from NOOA, a South
African Company. The Chairperson of the Committee informed the committee
that the Clerk of Parliament had advised him that it was not wise
for the Committee to continue its investigations into the procurement
of fuel as it was now subject of a police investigation. The committee
resolved that it would forge ahead with its own enquiry as it had
been the first to investigate the issue and also that it had enquired
into cases which were before the courts before without compromising
anyone or anything.
The Acting Chief
Executive Officer Ms. Mangezi informed the Committee that at its
inception in 1983 the sole responsibility of NOCZIM was to procure
petroleum products for the petroleum market in Zimbabwe. The policy
was changed in 2004 when the market was liberalized and opened up
for other players to be able to procure petroleum products. Government
approved the unbundling process in 2010 and NOCZIM was split into
two companies, namely; PetroTrade and National Oil Infrastructure
Company. PetroTrade deals with the trading and distribution of petroleum
products whereas the National Oil Infrastructure Company deals with
the management and maintenance of infrastructure.
On tender procedures,
Ms. Mangezi informed the Committee that the system was governed
by the Procurement Act which was administered by the State Procurement
Board. She further pointed out that there was a list of suppliers
approved by the State Procurement Board; this was done to guard
against "fly by night" operators who may dupe the state.
On the NOOA
fuel deal, which has created problems for the Minister of Energy
and Power Development, Ms. Mangezi informed the committee that NOCZIM
had nothing to do with the procurement of fuel from the said company.
She said to-date NOOA had delivered 1.4 million litres.
was also informed that since its inception to-date NOCZIM had never
declared dividends to government, the sole shareholder, because
it had always operated at a loss because of the subsidy policy.
On the same
day, the committee also received oral evidence from the Reserve
Bank Governor, Dr. Gideon Gono on the Shabani Mashava Mines (SMM)
Holdings wrangle between Mr. Mutumwa Mawere and government. He said
the Reserve Bank was of the view that SMM matters should be handled
"administratively rather than criminally". Thus there
was a need for the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Hon. Chinamasa,
the SMM Administrator, Mr. Arafas Gwaradzimba and Mr. Mawere to
come together to the drawing board and map a way forward so as to
restore the economic wellbeing of SMM Holdings. Dr. Gono also urged
all the parties involved in the SMM saga to stop politicizing the
Committee on Health and Child Welfare
toured Harare Central Hospital and Beatrice Infectious Hospital
jointly with the Thematic Committee on HIV/AIDS. The objective of
the fact-finding visit was for Members to appreciate the state of
the health institutions and its impact on health service delivery.
During the tour the joint-committees made the following observations:
- That the
casualty and outpatients departments needed a facelift.
- That the
nurses' and doctors' residencies were in a deplorable state and
there was need for urgent renovations. There was also need to
build more staff quarters as nurses were currently sharing rooms
originally meant for one person.
- There was
need for a new mortuary or the completion of the one that was
initiated 10 years ago as the current one had become small and
the refrigerators were dysfunctional. Corpses were rotting due
to the malfunctioning of the refrigeration system.
- Regular water
outages at the institution were compromising service delivery.
- The laundry
facility was in a pathetic state as 90% of the machinery dysfunctional.
Committee on Gender and Development
received oral evidence from Varume Svinurai/Vukani Madoda, a men's
forum which advocates for men's rights. The organization is advocating
for the amendment of Sections 65-68 of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23, which deals
with rape. They submitted that Sections 65 and 66 of the said Act
only recognize a rapist as a male person. In terms of this Act,
when a woman rapes a man the offence is not defined as rape but
aggravated indecent assault. In that sense the men's forum felt
that the current position of the law was in conflict with the international
call for gender equality and elimination of all forms of discrimination
based on gender.
The men's forum
argued that violence and sexual abuses have broken gender barriers.
They pointed out that of late Zimbabwe had been reporting cases
of women who had been raping men at gunpoint.
It was also
submitted that there were reported cases of boys below the age of
12 years who were made to have sexual intercourse with older women
or who were sexually molested by older women.
by the Supreme Court of the election of Lovemore Moyo as Speaker
of the House of Assembly, it was expected that elections for a new
Speaker would take place on Tuesday 22 March 2011 when the House
resumes its business. However, indications so far are that the election
may be deferred to a later date in order to allow parties to mobilize
their Members to ensure that they are all available on the voting
at hand, suggests that the Attorney General Johannes Tomana has
written to the Clerk of Parliament, advising that Lovemore Moyo
reverts to being a Member of Parliament representing his Matobo
North Constituency which he held before he was elected Speaker of
the House of Assembly in August 2008. There have been conflicting
legal opinions on the matter. Thus the Attorney General's legal
advice to Parliament seems to have put the issue to rest.
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