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Parliamentary Monitor: Issue 5
Parliamentary Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
September 12, 2011

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16 Bills set for Fourth Session

At least 16 Bills will be presented for debate during the fourth session of the 7th Parliament. This is an important session for many reasons. One is that since it is not clear when the next elections will be held, especially after President Robert Mugabe said they would be held by March next year, this session of Parliament should conclude all elections related Bills. This session is also important because it is during its seating that the constitution making process is likely to be concluded. It is important in that Parliament, which has been driving the constitution making process, will continue to play this role and also pass the Bill should it be approved through a referendum.

It is important to mention that some of the bills to be debated during the Fourth Session of the Seventh Parliament, are a spillover from the third session. Reasons proffered for failure to debate them have swung from limited time as a result of focusing on equally important constitution making process and a rather disturbing assertion that there are some which were not touched because Global Political Agreement partners had not yet concluded negotiations. Waiting for the GPA partners to first negotiate on the substance of a bill is noble but the inherent danger is when one of the signatories to the agreement chooses to throw spanners into works. We have already noticed this when Honourable Member Innocent Gonese (MDC-T) moved a motion to amend sections of POSA. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, said the Act (which political parties have said was used to curtail freedoms and has been abused by the Police) could not be put up for debate because it was already being discussed by political party negotiators under GPA. “It is not necessary to bring this motion in the house as it is under the agenda of the negotiators and by bringing it to parliament it creates unnecessary friction in the GPA as the matter will be debated further as it is on the GPA table.

So debate on the matter will be adjourned and we take it to the GPA talks,” said the Minister. Gonese, during the last session of Parliament, introduced the issue of amendment to POSA as a Private Member Bill (when an MP moves a motion to amend an act. This is usually done with the support of either his party or other Members of Parliament who may share the same view with the mover of the motion.) While conceding that amendments to POSA have to go via GPA negotiations, it is important that necessary amendments are passed if the next elections are to be considered free and fair. Some of the proposed amendments would allow political parties to campaign more freely which is one of the important building blocks towards a free and fair election. Some of the bills that are going to be debated during the fourth sessions include: the Electoral Amendment Bill, Referendum Amendment Bill, Human Rights Commission Bill, Diamond Bill and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Debt Restructuring Bill. It is clear that these are politics/ economics inclined bills. There are other Bills, but these have a bearing on the performance of the economy as well as creating a proper environment for free and fair elections and should be debated and passed soon.

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