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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 20 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
July 01, 2011
The Senate and
the House of Assembly are in recess until 5 July and 12 July, respectively.
However, committees of both houses have been conducting their business
and below are some of the major highlights during the week under
Committees Portfolio Committee on Transport, Communications and
Since the beginning
of June this year, the Committee has been seized with the scrutiny
of the provisions of Statutory
Instrument 154 of 2010 (S.I. 154/10), which seeks, among other
things, to ban Left Hand Drive Vehicles and the importation of vehicles
assembled more than 5 years ago. As part of this process, SAPST
facilitated public hearings for the Committee to gather views of
the public and interested stakeholders on the issue. Thus, between
6 -8 June, 2011 the Committee conducted public hearings in Mutare,
Masvingo and Bulawayo and wound up its programme on 27 June 2011
in Harare. The public hearings were attended by a number of stakeholders
representing various organizations, while others came in their individual
and members of the public that made their representations at the
afore-mentioned public hearings were vehemently opposed to provisions
of Statutory Instrument 154 of 2010 (S.I. 154/10), citing various
reasons. They argued that since Zimbabwe was a 3rd world country
the majority of people could not afford to buy new vehicles. They
informed the Committee that newer vehicles, be they locally assembled
or imported, were more expensive. Stakeholders also pointed out
to the Committee that duty charged by government on new vehicles
was punitive and hence the influx of second hand cars, which were
affordable to the generality of the population in Zimbabwe, given
the suppressed incomes of workers in Zimbabwe.
also heard that the local car assembly industry was in a comatose
state and was not able to meet demand and their products were priced
way above what an average worker could afford.
banning of Left Hand Drive Vehicles, especially the haulage trucks
on the basis that they were a safety hazard that contributed to
high accident rates on the roads, representatives of the Transporters
Association of Zimbabwe (TAO) dismissed this assertion as fallacious.
Instead they argued that major factors responsible for the carnage
on the roads were to do with the poor state of the roads, reckless
and incompetent drivers. They said police statistics confirmed this.
and members of the public welcomed the issue regarding other safety
requirements like fire extinguishers and reflective triangles etc,
they pointed out that specifications of these items stipulated in
the Statutory Instrument were not available on the market and wondered
how motorists were expected to comply with this requirement.
and members of the public lambasted the ministry for lack of extensive
consultation on such a major policy that affected the lives of the
majority citizens. They appealed to the ministry to re-think this
policy as many people stand to lose jobs and businesses and thus
impacting negatively on the economy, which they said was still fragile.
Committee on Justice, Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs
Committee received a briefing on the Human Rights Commission Bill
from Phillip Muziri (SAPST Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Programme
Advisor). In his presentation, Mr. Muziri pointed out the following
provisions of the Bill, which the Committee need to pay close attention
- Clause 2
of the Bill in its definition of human rights violations appears
to limit the scope of what can be defined as such.
- The Bill
gives excessive powers to the Minister who is a member of the
executive. Usually the executive is the major culprit in issues
to do with human rights violations as it has control over organs
such as the army, police and intelligence agencies.
- In clause
8 the commission can only act on issues that would have been reported,
one has to take into cognizance that some people who have had
their human rights infringed upon can be cowered into not reporting.
- The Commission
is required to report to the minister who is a member of the executive.
Options are the committee can report to parliament as an elected
body or a committee of parliament.
and illegal immigrants have no legal recourse in the Bill if their
human rights are violated during their stay in the country.
- The Bill
does not specify whether the Commission can visit places of detention
without notice so as to avoid stage managing by officials manning
these places. Malawi has such a provision.
- The Paris
Principles set the general framework for ensuring an effective
human rights body and it was therefore important and incumbent
upon legislators to make sure that the Bill conforms to the Paris
deliberated on the presentation and expressed concern on how the
Bill dismissed human rights violations committed before the 13th
of February 2009. The committee resolved to hold public hearings
on the Bill in Chinhoyi, Gweru, Gwanda, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare
and Harare before compiling its report to be tabled when the House
resumes sitting on 12 July
Committee on Budget, Finance, Economic Planning and Investment Promotion
had been scheduled to meet the Minister of Finance on Monday to
discuss the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review but the meeting had to
be deferred as the Minister was engaged elsewhere. However, the
Committee took the opportunity to brainstorm on topics to be discussed
at its workshop scheduled for mid July. The Committee agreed on
the following topics among others;
of growing the Economy
strategies for a sustainable Agricultural sector
facing the Industry; Opportunities for Revival
Fundamentals as a requisite for Economic Growth
of the mining sector for the benefit of all
Goals (MDGs) Thematic Committee The Thematic Committee on MDGs had
a briefing from the ministries of Economic Planning, Agriculture,
Social Welfare, Health and Environment regarding progress on the
fulfillment of the MDGs. The Committee was informed by officials
from the afore-mentioned ministries that the country was unlikely
to achieve the MDGs target of 2015 mainly because of budgetary constraints.
The worst affected were MDG 1; eradication of extreme poverty and
hunger, and MDG 2; achieving universal primary education.
Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social services, Mr. Museka
informed the committee that the Vulnerability Assessment Survey
done in 2010 had projected that 1.3 million people would require
food assistance between January and March 2011 at a total cost of
$5.9 million. However, the Ministry had only been allocated $3 million
in the 2011 Budget
for this purpose, which could only assist the vulnerable families
over a period of less than two months. He further informed the Committee
that treasury released the money late and the programme had to rely
on donor funding.
Mr. Museka said
the 2011 Second Crop and Livestock Assessment Survey indicated that
4 provinces in the country would be food insecure, affecting 1.34
million people. To provide food assistance to the affected people,
the ministry required a budget of $7 million. This is against the
same budget of $3 million that treasury was yet to release leaving
a deficit of $4 million.
to vulnerable children under the Basic Education Assistance Module
(BEAM), the Committee heard that 765 000 children were assisted
in 2010 at a cost of $27 million of which $15 million was financed
by donors. For 2011, the programme was allocated $23 million. Hence,
if additional funding to the tune of $4 million was not provided,
some children who were assisted last year may have to drop out of
Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Planning, Dr. Desire Sibanda
informed the Committee that the Medium Term Plan (MTP) set to be
launched on 7 July at the HICC focuses on strategies to expedite
progress towards the achievement of the MDGs by 2015.
Bills, namely; the Human Rights Commission bill, which operationalizes
the Human Rights Commission and the Electoral
Amendment Bill setting out election roadmap, have been gazetted.
The Portfolio Committee on Justice will be conducting extensive
public hearings on the two bills as they have a bearing on the forthcoming
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