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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 15 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
April 08, 2011
of Assembly struggled to maintain a quorum on Wednesday 6 April
2011 as only 26 Members were present in the House for the greater
party of the sitting and of these Members some of them kept going
out of the Chamber, necessitating some stoppages in order to satisfy
the required quorum. In terms of the House Standing Orders, the
quorum for the House of Assembly is 25 Members. This therefore means
that 25 Members out of the possible 215 Members can transact any
business in the House and this includes the passage of legislation.
As noted above,
most Members did not attend the sitting on Wednesday and this included
Ministers. Thus, backbenchers only had the opportunity to pose questions
to the Ministers who were present, namely Senator David Coltart,
Hon. Francis Nhema, Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei, Deputy Minister
Dr. Undenge and the Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara.
The following questions were raised and the Ministers present in
answered as follows;
of Bodies in Mount Darwin
Hon. Eddie Cross
asked the Deputy Prime Minister Professor Mutambara government’s
policy regarding exhumation of bodies buried in mass graves; whether
it can just be done by anybody or specialists such as forensic experts,
pathologists etc. The question was asked in reference to exhumations
currently taking place in Mount Darwin. Professor Mutambara said
exhumations should be in keeping with Zimbabwe’s laws. He
further informed the House that government through the ministry
of Home Affairs has taken over the exercise.
Tender for School Textbooks
Bhasikiti asked the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture
Senator David Coltart why the tender for the printing of school
textbooks was given to one publishing house. He further questioned
the Minister regarding the distribution of books by the publisher
not by book sellers. He also alleged in his question that the books
were of inferior quality and that many schools did not want those
books. In his response, Senator Coltart gave a historical background
to the project of producing books for schools which his ministry
embarked on in 2009. He said due to the hyperinflationary environment
that prevailed during the Zim Dollar era, the textbook-pupil ratio
was 1:15 on average, a situation his ministry found untenable. Hence
his ministry mobilized funds in 2009 to improve this ratio. Thus,
an Education Transition Fund was established and this was coordinated
by UNICEF. Hon. Coltart informed the House that all the stakeholders,
including the 3 major textbook publishers - Longman, College Press
and ZPH were consulted. However, after realizing that there was
an informal cartel by the publishing houses, UNICEF decided to flight
a tender which was won by Longman on the basis of the lowest prices
they submitted, high material quality and conformity to content
specifications by the Curriculum Development Unit. Price differential
between Longman and the other two publishers ran into millions of
dollars and thus giving the tender to Longman resulted in a saving
of $10 million. This assisted the ministry in a great way to achieve
a textbook-pupil ration of 1:1 in all schools across the country,
something which the ministry could not have achieved if the tender
had been given to either of the two losing publishers. Regarding
allegations that the content of the books was of poor quality and
that many schools did not want these books, the Minister said those
allegations were unfounded as his ministry consulted widely all
stakeholders including school heads, teachers unions, educationists,
the Curriculum Development Committee etc. He said Cabinet also gave
a nod of approval to the project.
of District Education Officers and Regional Education Directors
the Minister for the textbook project, Hon. Paul Mazikana asked
Hon. Coltart what his ministry was doing to improve mobility of
District Education Officers and Regional Education Directors to
ensure close supervision of schools. The Minister said Cabinet recently
approved a budget of $1.3 million specifically for the acquisition
of vehicles for the aforementioned officers. He said this would
go a long way in ensuring that schools
were closely monitored so that they produced better results.
of learning activities in Schools
Mahlangu asked the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture
the policy of his ministry regarding disruption of learning activities
in schools. He gave the example of ZANU PF officials whom he alleged
were going around in schools forcing teachers and school children
to sign the Anti-Sanctions Petition. Hon. Coltart said while he
had read about those allegations in the Press, there had been no
reported cases to his ministry.
Howver, he said the long standing policy of his ministry was that
schools should be “apolitical zones” of learning. He
urged Members of Parliament to assist his ministry in ensuring that
this policy was adhered to.
of Foreign Governments by State-controlled Media
Mlambo asked Professor Mutambara government’s position regarding
vilification of foreign governments, Heads of States and regional
bodies such as SADC by state-controlled media houses. Hon. Mlambo’s
question was in reference to the disparaging remarks by the Sunday
Mail and Herald directed at the SADC Troika on Politics and Defence
and in particular to President Jacob Zuma, following the communiqué
on Zimbabwe issued at the Livingstone Summit. In his response, Professor
Mutambara said governments communicated with each other through
official channels not the media.
Policy on GMO
Mudarikwa wanted to know from the Minister of Science and Technology
government’s policy regarding the use of GMO technologies
in agricultural production. Hon. Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei said
Cabinet was currently seized with the matter. He further indicated
that from a scientific or technological point of view, existing
knowledge has shown that GMO products were not harmful to health.
Elephants and Lions
Nyamudeza asked the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources
Management to inform the House measures his ministry was taking
to control the movement of wild animals like elephants and lions
which often stray into communities and destroy crops and domestic
animals. Minister Francis Nhema said government introduced CAMPFIRE
as one of the strategies meant to minimize conflict between humans
and wild animals. The Minister urged communities to desist from
settling in animal corridors to minimize the conflict that Hon.
Nyamudeza referred to in his question.
of Committee Activities
Committee on Agriculture
visited Tobacco Auction Floors to assess the situation regarding
the services offered at the Auction Floors and the challenges that
tobacco farmers were facing. Mr Mutambanesango briefed the committee
on the general challenges at Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) and these
are summarized below as:
farmers just bring their crop to the floors without prior arrangements
hence creating congestion at the floors.
- Farmers were
avoiding making bookings at their designated provincial centres
and hence it was taking long before they could be served.
who were operating outside the premises were contributing to the
challenges that farmers were facing. Their presence was exposing
farmers to robbery among with other problems.
was limited as farmers were bringing along with them some of their
family members to the floors.
- Farmers were
buying goods from town and stocking it in the premises awaiting
transport back home.
were overcharging farmers (about $25 a bale).This has been attributed
to the use of unregistered transporters which the farmers were
Committee on Health and Child Welfare
received a briefing from the Chairperson of the Public Health Advisory
Board, Dr Loewenson on the progress made so far towards the amendment
of the Public Health Act. Present were representatives from Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights and Zimbabwe
Association for Doctors for Human Rights. Dr Loewenson highlighted
the following to the Committee;
- The Act
was passed in 1924 hence the need to review it as it was an ancient
piece of legislation and had fallen out of line with trends in
the health sector. The Act does not allude to critical United
Nations Conventions on Health because it was passed before their
- Since independence
there have been major health policy changes which have not been
incorporated into the Act.
- There was
a lot of outdated terminology in the Act which made it difficult
to refer to.
- The Public
Health Services Board has been tasked with coming up with a white
paper which it will submit to the ministry. The board has set
up a technical working group comprising of various stakeholders
to come up with the white paper.
- The major
challenge being faced was lack of funding for stakeholder consultation
- The board
would want to hold wide consultative meetings in the form of public
hearings but available funding can only allow for two hearings.
- The board
would therefore welcome consultations on the same by other organizations.
- The Committee
concurred with views expressed by Dr. Loewenson that there was
need forwide consultations in the form of public hearings throughout
Committee on Natural Resources and Environment
received oral evidence from the National Parks and Wildlife officials
on the land reform based conservancy policy. The officials highlighted
the following to the Committee;
and National Parks have had several meetings with stakeholders concerning
the land reform based conservancy policy. The aim of this policy
was to protect conservancies from un-orderly settlements by communities
as it happened to farms under the fast-track land reform programme.
- The political
environment was making it difficult for the implementation of
the policy as some policy makers were sending contradictory policy
- Some white
farmers have ignored leases offered by government to new farmers
and there has been no dialogue between them and the new beneficiaries.
- Some of the
beneficiaries were not chosen on merit, based on expertise, and
as result they were failing to run their conservancy businesses
- White farmers
have complained about partnerships being imposed on them and the
exclusion of their names on the lease agreement forms.
- The old and
new farmers will be required to craft business plans to guide
- The major
challenge with respect to timber plantations was to do with illegal
settlements in the plantations. These illegal settlers have converted
some of the plantation land into food crop agricultural use. 20%
of the plantation land has been lost in Manicaland. The illegal
settlers were also causing bush fires which often destroy the
- From January
2010 - March 2011, 2572 people have been arrested for poaching
and 16 killed for poaching activities.
resolved to engage timber producers in order to get a full picture
of the challenges they were facing as a result of illegal settlements
in their plantations.
Laws Amendment Bill
7 April 2011, the House of Assembly passed the General Laws Amendment
Bill. In keeping with his undertaking on Tuesday, the Minister of
Justice and Legal Affairs, Hon. Chinamasa dropped off amendments
to do with the centralization of procurement processes for local
authorities. He also withdrew proposed amendments to the Copy Right
and Neighbouring Act which had sought to make some public documents
copyrightable. The concession by the Minister of Justice and Legal
Affairs was a major victory for the Justice and Local Government
Portfolio Committees as well as the Parliamentary Legal Committee
whose compelling arguments positively swayed the Minister’s
position. The Bill has since been transmitted to the Senate.
Protection Corporation Bill (H.B. 7, 2010)
Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill [H.B. 10, 2010].
two Bills are before the House of Assembly at the second reading
This Bill is
still stuck in the Senate.
The House of
Assembly adjourned to Tuesday 17 May 2011 and the Senate to Tuesday
10 May 2011. But Committees will continue with their activities
during the adjournment of parliament.
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