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MTP on Governance; Adverse Report on Mines Indigenisation - Bill Watch 30/2011
Veritas
July 25, 2011

Both the House of Assembly and the Senate will meet on Tuesday 26th July

Medium Term Plan: Governance and Development

The Medium Term Plan [MTP] was launched on 7th July. In his foreword the Prime Minister acknowledged that some previous economic blue prints had fallen short on implementation. The plan lists some of the achievements made under the Short Term Economic Recovery Programme [STERP] in bringing the country from gross economic instability characterized by hyperinflation to considerable economic stability. This has enabled the government to improve social service delivery, especially health and education; and to bring about some improvements in infrastructure; but there have been only meagre gains in the rights and interests cluster embracing fundamental freedoms and national reconciliation. The MTP is supposed to build on STERP’s gains and plans to transform the economy during the period 2011 to 2015. Meeting the MTP’s growth and development targets is optimistically premised on approximately $9.2 billion being harvested from Zimbabwe’s own natural resources and growth dividend. Foreign direct investment will be considered “a bonus”. [The glossy 285-page MTP document is available from the Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, 4th Floor, Block E, New Government Complex, Harare. It is not on the Ministry’s website.]

The MTP has a chapter on Governance and Economic Development. Good governance is acknowledged to be “integral to the successful implementation of the MTP”. Planned measures presented include:

  • Independent Budget Office for Parliament: The plan envisages Parliament having its own independent non-partisan professional Budget Office to provide information and analysis concerning the national budget to legislators, parliamentary committees, civil society organisations and citizens. The idea is to enhance Parliament’s understanding of the budget and enable it to debate it with the executive on equal terms, and also to enhance transparency in the use of public funds by enabling citizen participation in the formulation of budgets and monitoring and evaluating the performance of Government.
  • Anti-Corruption Drive: There is a promise of intensification of Government efforts to crack down on corruption, and to work towards increased accountability and transparency.
  • Transformation of Security Sector: Paragraph 24:13 of the MTP promises that security organs will be transformed “in a manner that enables them to perform their constitutional duties without fear or favour, in defence of the people, the country and its sovereignty”. The security sector will be adequately resourced and there will be an emphasis on training and ensuring improved conditions of service for the security forces.
  • Prison Reform: The need to improve living conditions of prisoners is recognized and there are plans to address it.

Mining Sector Indigenisation: Adverse Report from PLC

On Tuesday 19th July the Speaker announced in the House of Assembly that he had received an adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] on the requirements for indigenisation of the mining sector gazetted by the Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment in General Notice 114/2011 in late March. Veritas will provide further details as soon as they become available. [Prominent lawyers have given opinions condemning the requirements as both unconstitutional and ultra vires the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.]

In the House of Assembly Last Week

The House sat on Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th. The Senate did not sit.

Bills

National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill – there was no movement on this Bill, so it remained awaiting its Second Reading. The responsible Minister is Minister of Industry and Commerce Welshman Ncube.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill – this Bill was still under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] at week’s end. The PLC could take until the 19th August to come up with its report on the constitutionality of the Bill – or even longer if the Speaker grants it more time. The House cannot take the Bill further until the PLC has reported.

Motions

Unconstitutional Statements by Service Chiefs On Tuesday, debate on Hon Chikwinya’s motion [see Bill Watch 29/2011 of 21st July] lasted for over four hours, with MDC-T and ZANU-PF MPs putting forward sharply differing views. ZANU-PF members defended the right of military officers to express publicly their personal political opinions, and also insisted that the main culprit identified by MDC-T members, Brigadier-General Nyikayaramba, was not speaking for the Defence Forces. Debate petered out at 6.47 pm when the number of MPs present fell below the statutory quorum of 25 and the Speaker adjourned the House.

Question Time

Wednesday saw full use being made of the two hours allocated for Ministerial replies to members’ questions. Topics referred to included:

Police spot-fines for motorists

Co-Minister of Home Affairs Theresa Makone told the House that spot-fines collected by police are, with the permission of the Ministry of Finance, retained for use within the ZRP; she also said that there is no law requiring spot-fines to be paid “on the spot” and that people should be give time [“maybe seven days”] within which to pay.

Sanctions

The Prime Minister assured a questioner that there was no division within the Government on “sanctions or restrictive measures”; from a government point of view the issue was being attended to from “a united position”.

Ratification of UN Convention against Torture

In a question without notice, Hon Madzimure raised Zimbabwe’s continued failure to ratify this convention. The Speaker directed that the question be put in writing to enable a properly considered response to be given.

Asiagate Soccer Scandal

The Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture said he had only just received the ZIFA report on this matter, and would be raising it with the police and the Attorney-General.

Police Ban on Public Transport in Diamond Zone

Co-Minister of Home Affairs Makone confirmed the existence of a ban on public transport in the Mutsago, Mukwada and Chiadzwa areas “in the interest of state security”, i.e. to keep the area clear of illegal diamond panners. Private vehicles are allowed to enter under a permit system administered by police, with permits having to be renewed every month.

Coming up in Parliament This Week

Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review

The Minister of Finance is expected to present his Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review in the House of Assembly on Tuesday 26th July. The Minister has already said he will not be announcing a supplementary Budget, i.e., a Budget increasing the overall revenue and expenditure approved by Parliament for 2011. But he could still present Amended Estimates of Expenditure proposing adjustments and re-alignments in certain Ministry votes, without changing the original Budget’s overall revenue and expenditure figures. That is what happened at this time last year, when Amendment Estimates were approved and an Appropriation Amendment Bill passed.

Bills

Electoral Amendment Bill – the Minister of Justice is due to present this Bill in the House of Assembly on Tuesday 26th July. After presentation the Bill will be referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for the committee’s report on its constitutionality. [Standing Orders allow the PLC 26 business days – i.e. up to the 2nd September – to present its report, and also allow the Speaker to grant an extension of that period if the PLC requests it.]

Deposit Protection Corporation Bill [H.B. 7A, 2010] – awaiting its Second Reading in the Senate.

Public Order and Security [POSA] Amendment Bill [H.B. 11A, 2009] – this Private Member’s Bill, long since passed by the House of Assembly, has been held up for months in the Senate pending an amendment to Standing Orders to grant its sponsor, MDC-T MP Innocent Gonese, the right to speak to it in the Senate although he is not a Senator. The amendment has now come into force, so Mr Gonese at last has the right to present his Second Reading speech and see the Bill through its remaining stages in the Senate.

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