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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 26 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
September 01, 2011

Introduction

The House of Assembly blocked the suspension of Standing Orders relating to the passage of Bills, which would have allowed the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs to fast-track the passage of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill, H.B. 2 – 2011 yesterday. Most of the Ministers were conspicuous by their absence in the House to answer questions from backbenchers.

House of Assembly Plenary

On behalf of the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Acting Leader of the House Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara sought the permission of the House to suspend Standing Orders relating to passage of Bills and the automatic adjournment of the House at 1855 hours with respect to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill, H.B. 2 – 2011. MDC MPs objected to the motion on the basis that the Bill was a very important piece of legislation and therefore MPs required ample to time to study it and consult widely in order to make informed contributions.

Leading MDC-T debate on the motion was Hon. Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma Constituency) who was supported by Hon. Simon Hove (Highfield West Constituency).

ZANU PF Chief Whip, Hon. Joram Gumbo said MPs from his party had no qualms with MDC-T objections, though they would have wanted the Bill passed as a matter of urgency given its national importance.

Questions without Notice

As indicated above, most Ministers did not attend yesterday’s sitting and as a result backbenchers could only raise questions to the Acting Leader of the House, Professor Mutambara, Hon. Eric Matinenga, Hon. Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Hon. Nelson Chamisa and Hon. Tongai Matutu.

Deportation of Foreign Ambassadors

Hon. Simon Hove (MDC-T Highfield West) asked Deputy Prime Minister Professor Mutambara to brief the House on government policy regarding deportation of accredited foreign ambassadors, specifically in light of the Libyan Ambassador. Professor Mutambara said the case of the Libyan Ambassador presented the government of Zimbabwe with a technical diplomatic dilemma in the sense that he was accredited on the basis that he was representing the Gaddafi regime which was constitutionally recognized as the legitimate government then. Compounding the problem was that the government of Zimbabwe has not recognized the National Transitional Council (NTC) in Libya and therefore it would not be correct to allow the Libyan Ambassador to remain in the country after shifting his allegiance from the government that deployed him in Zimbabwe as its Ambassador. Thus, the government of Zimbabwe took the decision to expel the Libyan Ambassador. He said the position of Zimbabwe towards the NTC will be guided by SADC and African Union resolutions.

Harbouring Deposed Dictators

Hon. Anadi Silulu (MDC-T Silobela) asked Deputy Prime Minister Professor Mutambara to explain government policy regarding harbouring deposed dictators in the light of press reports that Colonel Gaddafi may be on his way to Zimbabwe. Professor Mutambara said the decision to give asylum status to a deposed leader was usually done to allow transition to take place in his country. On whether or not the government of Zimbabwe will grant Colonel Gaddafi asylum status, Professor Mutambara said government had not discussed the matter and would only discus it when such a request had been made.

Directives to Donor Community by Manicaland Governor

Hon. Shuah Mudiwa (MDC-T Mutare West) asked Deputy Prime Minister Professor Mutambara if directives by Manicaland Governor, Hon. Christopher Mushowe that donor organizations in the province should only work with the office of the governor, the provincial administrator and district administrators and exclude elected officials such as MPs and councillors, were in line with government policy. Professor Mutambara said in terms of policy, elected officials such as MPs and councillors were part of the governance structure at the local level and therefore should be part of developmental programmes in their local areas.

Water Bills

Hon. Dorothy Mangami (ZANU PF Gokwe) asked the Minister of Water Resources Hon. Samuel Sipepa Nkomo to explain to the House why residents were billed every month for water they had not consumed. The Minister said it was incumbent upon residents to approach their local authorities to clarify their water bills. When pressed by backbenchers what exactly should residents do if they established that they had been billed for water they had not consumed, Hon. Sipepa Nkomo said residents should only pay for what they had consumed.

Disconnecting Water Supply to Essential Services

Responding to a supplementary question by Hon. Obert Matshalaga (ZANU PF Zvishavane) whether or not it was government policy to disconnect water supplies to essential services such as hospitals, the Minister said that was not government policy and those institutions should not be disconnected.

Audit of the Constituency Development Fund

Hon. Clifford Sibanda (ZANU PF Bubi) requested the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Eric Matinenga to publish names of MPs who had not submitted their returns for the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocations. Hon. Sibanda said this will clear the names of those who have acquitted themselves since the press had given the public the impression that all MPs had abused the fund. The Minister said so far 133 MPs had submitted acquittals and he made an undertaking to submit to parliament names of those MPs that had complied with the requirement to submit returns.

Indigenization Policy Regarding Banking Institutions

Hon. Wesley Sansole (MDC-T Hwange East) asked the Deputy Minister of Youth Development, Indigenization and Empowerment, Hon. Tongai Matutu to explain to the House government policy on indigenization and Empowerment in view of press statements in which Minister Saviour Kasukuwere was quoted threatening some banks with cancellation of their operating licences if they did not meet the deadline for submitting their indigenization plans. Hon. Matutu informed the House that it was not the responsibility of his ministry to cancel licences for banking institutions but that of the central bank. The role of his ministry was to ensure compliance by foreign-owned companies. He also assured the House that the issue had since been resolved and his ministry was currently involved in discussions with the banks in question on the threshold the banking sector was proposing to cede.

Laptops for MPs

Hon. Fred Kanzama asked the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Hon Nelson Chamisa if he could also consider allocating laptops to backbenchers as he recently did to Ministers. Hon. Chamisa assured backbenchers that his ministry was in the process of extending the same programme to all MPs as a way of promoting the e-government programme in the country. He said that e-government could only succeed if policy-makers take a leading role in the programme given the imperatives of the new technology age.

Appointment of Privileges Committee

The House unanimously adopted a motion by Hon. Eric Matinenga, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs to set up a Privileges Committee to investigate Mr. Arafas Gwaradzimba for prima farcie breach of privilege amounting to contempt of parliament. The Speaker informed the House that the Standing Rules and Orders Committee would appoint the Privileges Committee in due course to look into the matter. The matter was first raised by the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy in its report on the Mashava Shabanie Mines fiasco. The Committee alleged that Mr. Gwaradzimba published disparaging press statements on Committee Members soon after he appeared before the Committee insinuating that Committee Members were corrupt and dishonest. The Committee requested the Speaker to make a ruling on the matter. In his ruling, the Speaker established that there was a prima farcie case of breach of privilege by Mr. Gwaradzimba.

Adjournment of the House

The House of Assembly adjourned to 20 September 2011. The 4th Session of the 7th Parliament is scheduled to be officially opened on Tuesday 6 September 2011 by President Mugabe.

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