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New Parliamentary Session to Open on 6th September - Bill Watch 34/2011
August 23, 2011

Both Houses will meet on Tuesday 30th August

The current Parliamentary Session will end on 5th September followed by the

Opening of the Next Session on Tuesday 6th September

Presidential Proclamation Fixes Date for New Parliamentary Session

Contrary to expectations the new Parliamentary session will not begin this week, but on Tuesday 6th September. When both houses adjourned until the 30th of this month it was expected that it was a token adjournment to that date, and that the end of the present session and the beginning of a new session of Parliament would take place before then. But the presidential proclamation, gazetted on 17th August, announced that Monday 5th September would be the date Parliament would be prorogued [i.e. the present Parliamentary session would be ended]. The same proclamation summoned Parliament to meet for the opening of the new session at 12 noon on 6th September [Electronic version of proclamation available on request to]. This will be the Fourth Session of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe. There will be a ceremonial opening and then there is usually an adjournment of a week or two to allow the Parliamentarians to study the President’s opening speech.

As the present session has not ended, both Houses will have to sit on the 30th August – the day to which they had been adjourned. There is unfinished work on the Order Papers of both Houses [see below], but judging by their track records so far in this session it is unlikely that any serious business will be conducted, and more likely that both Houses will briefly fulfill their obligation of sitting and then immediately adjourn until 6th September when the new session will be opened. Once again an opportunity for continuing with the POSA Amendment Bill is Iikely to be lost.

On the Parliamentary Agenda for 30th August

If the House of Assembly and the Senate choose to get down to real work on the 30th August, there are agenda items awaiting their attention:

House of Assembly

  • National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill – this Bill has been awaiting its Second Reading debate for a long time. The responsible Minister is the Minister of Industry and Commerce.
  • Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill and Electoral Amendment Bill – these two Bills have had their First Readings, but both are awaiting Parliamentary Legal Committee reports before they can be taken further. In addition, the reports of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs are not ready, and the Portfolio Committee still has to hold its public hearings on the Electoral Amendment Bill [see below]. There have been no indications that there will be repeat public hearings on the Human Rights Commission Bill although some were aborted because of disruptions. The responsible Minister for both Bills is the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs.

Motions Unfinished business under this head includes: “take note” motions on a number of Portfolio Committee reports [on the public media, prisons, Shabani-Mashava mines, revival of industry, and “constitutionalisation” of housing]; Hon Chikwinya’s motion on unconstitutional statements by Service Chiefs; Hon Musundire’s motion on arbitrary interference in local authorities by the Ministry of Local Government; and Hon Mare’s motion on conditions of service for civil servants


Public Order and Security [POSA] Amendment Bill Mr Gonese’s Private Member’s Bill is the only Bill on the Senate Order Paper. When the Senate last met Mr Gonese completed his speech opening the Second Reading debate. After an intervention by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Mr Gonese agreed that further debate should be adjourned while the issue of amending POSA was considered by the GPA negotiators [see Bill Watch 33/2011 for details]. Whether the Bill can move forward on the 30th August will depend on what, if anything, the negotiators have managed to agree on by then.

Motions Debate is still to be concluded on Senator Komichi’s motion on violence in Harare suburbs earlier this year.

Reminder of the effect of the end of a Session:

At the end of a Session, all pending Bills and motions, and uncompleted portfolio and thematic committee proceedings, lapse. The Standing Orders of both Houses, however, allow resolutions to be proposed and approved, for lapsed Bills and motions to be restored to the Order Paper, and for the committees appointed for a new session to adopt the uncompleted work of their predecessors – and this is what usually happens. [Note: The work of the Parliamentary Legal Committee is not affected by the ending of a Session because it is a permanent committee, appointed for the life of a particular Parliament. Its adverse reports do not lapse at the end of a Session, so current adverse reports must be followed up – see Bill Watch 31/2011of 6th August for adverse reports awaiting debate.]

Portfolio Committees and Thematic Committees

There will be no meetings of these committees until the new Session. The delay in the end of the Session does not affect the position previously announced.

Public Hearings on Electoral Amendment Bill

Parliament has planned public hearings around the country, and including rural centres, on the Electoral Amendment Bill. When it was thought the new Parliamentary Session would begin on 23rd August, it was intended that the circuit of public hearings would start shortly thereafter. Now that the opening of the new Session has been put off to 6th September, the public hearings will not start until 12th September.

Parliamentary Voting Strengths

Another Vacancy in the House of Assembly

The death on 5th August of Professor Mukonoweshuro, Minister of Public Service and MDC-T MP for Gutu South, has created another vacancy in the House of Assembly, bringing the total number of vacancies – and pending House of Assembly by-elections – to 12. In terms of the GPA his successor as Minister will be an MDC-T nominee formally appointed by the President [GPA Article 20.1.10].

Current Party Voting Strengths in House of Assembly

As a result of Professor Mukonoweshuro’s death there has been a shift in voting strengths, which are now as follows: ZANU-PF 98; MDC-T 95; MDC 8.

Does Suspension from Political Party Impact on Tenure of Parliamentary Seat?

The reported suspension from ZANU-PF membership of T racy Mutinhiri, MP for Marondera East, has prompted the question whether the party suspension means she automatically forfeits her seat in the House of Assembly or is suspended from Parliament. The answer is No. It is only when an MP ceases to be a member of the party under whose banner he or she stood for election that the party can insist on that MP’s seat becoming vacant [Constitution, section 41(1)(e)]. That is what happened when three MDC MPs in Matabeleland lost their seats in 2009 following their expulsion from the party. And a party suspension does not suspend the MP’s membership of Parlliament.

Many MPs Failing to Account for Constituency Development Funds

In the 2010 Budget approved by Parliament in December 2009 funds were allocated for Constituency Development Funds [CDFs], to be channelled to MPs through the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs. Each constituency would receive $38 000 during 2010, which would have to be used for construction of boreholes, repair of schools and clinics, purchase of generators, etc., in accordance with an annual development plan drawn up by a committee of elected councillors chaired by the House of Assembly member for the constituency. Strict accountability would be required; the Ministry provided MPs with a manual on how the funds should be managed and expenditure accounted for. $50 000 was eventually disbursed for each of 209 constituencies in 2010. In the 2011 Budget the same amount was promised.

This year complaints have surfaced of misuse of funds by some MPs, and the Ministry has started on a programme of audits to check on how the money has been used. On 13th July the Minister told the House of Assembly that when money for 2011 was received from the Ministry of Finance, it would go first to those MPs who had submitted returns accounting for expenditure of the funds disbursed in 2010 – at that time only 60 out of a total of 210. A week later he told the House that more MPs were coming forward. The latest information is that 106 have submitted their returns.

Government Gazette and Statutory Instruments

[electronic versions not available]

12th August

Government’s Consolidated Statements of Financial Performance for the month of June 2011 and for the second quarter ending June 2011 were published in this Gazette.

Registration fees for medical and dental practitioners These and related fees fixed by the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council were gazetted in SI 94/2011.

19th August

Sugar milling industry wages and allowances April 2011 to March 2012 [SI 95/2011].

Regional courts for Kadoma and Kwekwe [SI 96/2011].

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