Back to Index
Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 17 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
June 01, 2011
in our last
Bulletin, the House
of Assembly and Senate had adjourned to 14 June and 5 July 2011
to allow Members to participate in the COPAC Thematic Committees.
However, the Houses were recalled by the President to sit yesterday
to ratify a Concessional Loan Agreement between the Government of
Zimbabwe and the Export-Import Bank of China relating to the construction
of the National Defence College currently underway. The Loan Agreement
was concluded on the 21st of March 2011 in Harare and amounts to
US$98 million, payable in 20 years with an annual interest of 2%.
Plenary Debate in Both Houses
In an unprecedented move, debate on the ratification
of the Loan Agreement was done simultaneously in both Houses of
Parliament. In Senate, the Loan Agreement was tabled by Hon. Herbert
Murerwa (Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement) whilst the Minister
of Defence, Hon. Emerson Mnangagwa steered debate in the House of
Assembly. In the House of Assembly, debate was preceded by procedural
arguments as the MDC-T Chief Whip, Hon. Innocent Gonese called for
a point of order before the Minister of Defence, Hon. Emerson Mnangagwa
could make his speech. Hon. Gonese challenged the manner in which
the motion was put on the Order Paper, without a notice of motion.
On that score, he sought deferment of the debate on the motion until
it was properly introduced in the House. However, his point of order
was over-ruled by the Acting Speaker, Hon. Nomalanga Khumalo who
pointed out that Standing Order No. 194(2) allowed for introduction
of motions without notice in circumstances where the House is recalled
for an earlier sitting.
Procedural matters aside, the Minister of Defence
informed the House that the National Defence College was a strategic
institution which will provide professional and academic courses
to military officers and civilians as well up to a Master’s
Degree level. He said many countries had similar institutions and
thus Zimbabwe was lagging behind. Hon, Mnangagwa also explained
to the House that through the construction of the Zimbabwe National
Defence College, the country will realize many benefits; the major
being the savings on the fiscus. He said government was currently
incurring huge costs for sending senior military officers for training
in other countries with similar defence colleges. The Minister further
revealed to House that there were 122 senior officers or so attending
training and academic courses in foreign countries at a cost of
US$15 000 – $50 000 per student per year.
Members from both MDC parties were not happy with
the short notice they were given to study the Loan Agreement. They
felt “ambushed” by the executive so that they could
just rubber-stamp the Loan Agreement without meaningful debate.
Thus, they appealed to no avail to the Minister of Defence to defer
debate on the Loan Agreement to a later date to allow them adequate
time to study it. They pointed out to the Minister that they were
not against the construction of the National Defence College per
se but the manner in which the ratification process was being rushed
Members also questioned the urgency of having the
National Defence College given other pressing national priorities
in health, education, water and manufacturing sectors. They argued
that the loan would have been better spent in those sectors.
Members also queried the rationale of the loan agreement
given that the country was currently saddled with a foreign debt
of over US$7 billion dollars. Thus they quizzed the Minister as
to how the government intends to service this loan. The Minister
said this was the best deal that government has ever entered into
given the generous repayment period and the concessional interest
rate of 2% per annum.
across the political divide who debated on the issue, implored the
executive to ensure that the Chinese loan should benefit the local
industry and the people of Zimbabwe in terms of employment opportunities.
They pointed out that Chinese companies had a habit of importing
all the materials and labour from their home country, thus disadvantaging
the host country.
Deposit Protection Corporation Bill
had been recalled to ratify the Chinese Loan Agreement, the Minister
of Finance, Hon. Tendai Biti took advantage of the sitting to present
the second reading of the Deposit
Protection Corporation Bill. In his remarks on the Bill, the
Minister informed the House that the Bill was meant to harmonize
the regulatory authorities in the financial services sector. Currently,
this sector was regulated by different authorities; a situation
he said was undesirable.
He said the enactment of the law was very urgent
to deal with such problems as manifested by the ReAnnaisance Bank
He also took the opportunity to dispel press statements
that he directed NSSA to invest US$20 million in the ReAnnaisance
Bank. Hon. Biti said, although he had powers to do so under the
Insurance Act, he had not done so. He explained to the House that
his ministry only directed NSSA to do a due diligence and assess
whether it was prudent to invest in the ReAnnaisance Bank since
NSSA was sitting on US$130 million investment money.
The House of Assembly passed all the clauses of
the Bill save for 3 clauses which the Minister said he wanted to
further consult on. Hence the Assembly of Assembly adjourned to
today to pass the Bill. It is expected that the House of Assembly
will adjourn today to 14 June 2011 as per the original date before
the recall. Senate adjourned to 5 July 2011.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.