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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 34 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
October 14, 2011


On Tuesday 11 October 2011, the House of Assembly ratified 3 Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs). The Senate rejected a motion by Hon. Innocent Gonese to restore his Amendment Bill on POSA to the Order Paper. On Thursday, the House of Assembly broke its own record as it sat for barely 14 minutes before it adjourned without any substantive business transacted save for a notice of motion by the Minister of Science and Technology, Hon. Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei, for the ratification of the Convention on the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

House of Assembly Plenary Proceedings:

Ratification of BIPPAs

The House ratified three BIPPAs signed between the Government of Zimbabwe and the Governments of Botswana, Iran and India, respectively. Subsection (1) of Section 111B of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that “any convention, treaty or agreement acceded to, concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President with one or more foreign states or governments or international organizations shall be subject to approval by Parliament”.

The Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Government of the Republic of Botswana was signed on the 21st March 2011.

The Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Government of the Republic of India was signed on the 10th February 1999; The Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran was signed on the 9th day of May 1999.

Question and Answer Session

Resuscitation of Shabanie Mashava Mines

The Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Hon. Gift Chimanikire, informed the House that his ministry received a directive from President Mugabe to take over the resuscitation of the Shabanie Mashava Mines (SMM). He said, his ministry, through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) was in the process of auditing SMM before full operations could be started. He also informed the House that SMM workers would be paid part of their 2-year outstanding salaries in due course. The Deputy Minister also indicated that government would negotiate with SMM employees to have part of their outstanding salaries converted into shares as part of the indigenization programme. He was responding to a question by Hon. Tachiona Mharadza (MDC-T Masvingo West).

MPs’ Outstanding Sitting Allowances

MPs took the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Eric Matinenga, to task during question time regarding their outstanding sitting allowances. MPs have not been paid their sitting allowances since the beginning of the 7th Parliament in 2008. Hon. Matinenga said allowances for MPs were regulated by the Parliamentary Members Allowances and Privileges Act. This Act empowered the President to determine the level of MPs’ allowances. He informed Members that Parliament and the Executive reached a decision that MPs’ allowances be pegged at $75 per sitting. The Minister assured Members that Parliament was working flat out to determine how much each Member was owed. He promised Members that their allowances would be paid in due course.

Pollution of River Systems in Chiadzwa

Hon. Sibonile Nyamudedza (MDC-T Chipinge West) asked the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management what government was doing regarding diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa which were polluting Save and Odzi rivers. In his response, Hon. Francis Nhema said that all mining companies were required by law to submit Environmental Impact Assessment Report before they could be granted licences to operate. He said it had come to the attention of his ministry that some mining companies in Chiadzwa were in breach of environmental laws and his ministry had since approached those companies to ensure that they adhered to environmental laws.

Progress on Millennium Development Goal 2 (MDG 2)

Hon. Thamsanqa Mahlangu (MDC-T Nkulumane) asked the Minister of Education, Arts, Sport and Culture to update the House on the progress regarding the implementation of the MDG 2. The Deputy Minister of Education, Arts, Sport and Culture, Hon. Lazarus Dokora informed the House that Zimbabwe was well on course in achieving MDG 2, which relates to universal provision of primary education by year 2015. He said government was confident in achieving this goal given the policies its has enacted over the years in support of that goal.

Diamond Legislative Framework

Hon. Shepherd Mushonga asked the Minister of Mines and Mining Development why Zimbabwe did not have relevant diamond legislation. The Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Hon. Chimanikire said it was not true that Zimbabwe did not have relevant diamond legislation. He said diamond-mining law was enshrined in the Mines and Minerals Act {Chapter 5}, Precious Stones Trade Act and the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe. He further said that most diamond producing countries e.g. Botswana, Ghana etc had a similar legislative model. However he informed the House that Namibia was one example of countries that have stand-alone diamond legislation. Hon. Chimanikire said his ministry was taking the stand-alone legislation route and to that end a draft Diamonds Bill had already been submitted to the Attorney General’s Office. He assured Members that the Bill would be introduced in Parliament before the end of the year.

Regarding companies currently operating in Chiadzwa, Hon. Chimanikire mentioned three companies, namely; Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources (formerly Canadile) and Anjin Investments. He said Marange Resources was now wholly owned by government, through ZMDC. In terms of production, he said Mbada Diamonds was producing 164 489.18 carats, Marange Resources 104 713.01 carats and Anjin Investments 234 749.92 carats on average per month. He further revealed that Anjin Investments had stock-piled 2.5 to 3 million carats as it was still to be given a green light to sell its diamonds by KPCS.

Progress on Mtshabezi Dam Project

Hon. Dorcas Sibanda asked the Minister of Water Resources Development and Management, Hon. Samuel sipepa Nkomo, when Bulawayo would start drawing water from the Mtshabezi Dam so as to alleviate water shortages in the city. In his prepared response, which was read on his behalf by the Minister of National Housing and Social Amentities, Hon. Sipepa Nkomo said the Mtshabezi Dam Project was 72% complete. He said the electrification of the pumping station would delay the actual pumping of water to the city of Bulawayo as ZESA indicated that a figure of $2.1 million would be required. The State Procurement Board instructed the ministry to float an open tender for the electrification works. The Minister estimated that this process would take about six months.

Progress on the Millennium Development Goal 7 (MDG 7)

Hon. Thamsanqa Mahlangu (MDC-T Nkulumane) asked the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management, Hon. Francis Nhema, to update the House on the progress regarding the implementation of the MDG 7, which relates to environmental sustainability by 2015. The Minister informed the House that his ministry was facing a huge challenge in achieving MDG 7 especially as it relates to effective and timely implementation of environmental policies and legislation. He said his ministry did not have adequate financial and human resources and this has had adverse impact on the ministry’s efforts towards achieving MDG 7. He cited the fact that the Environmental Management Agency was not funded from the fiscus yet it was supposed to play a critical role in achieving environmental sustainability. Minister Nhema also cited high poverty levels in the country as working against the achievement of the MDG 7 by 2015.

Delegation Report on the Pan African Parliament Permanent Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Workshop

Hon. William Mutomba (ZANU PF Buhera North) presented a Delegation Report on the Pan African Parliament Permanent Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Workshop he attended in Botswana recently.

He said the workshop wanted to understand the realities and challenges that result from minimalistic involvement of Parliamentarians and to stimulate a discussion on how best the committee can play a more definitive role in the areas of Trade, Customs and Immigration matters. The specific objectives of the workshop were;

  • To take stock of realities faced by regional blocks as a result of minimalistic involvement of Parliaments.
  • To offer a platform for regional blocks to share best practice in overcoming the challenge of minimalistic involvement of Parliamentarians.
  • To agree on the priority issues that can enhance the role and effective engagement of the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration matters in regional integration.
  • To craft mechanisms that foster an enhanced role and effective engagement of Parliamentarians on matters of Trade Customs and Immigration.

The workshop resolved the following measures;

  • Members of Parliament must position regional integration within their broad responsibilities of law making, representation and oversight by encouraging their governments and the AU to expedite efforts in promoting regional integration.
  • Research must be carried out to inform the Committee on the action to mobilize for a research on Africa's resources and how they can be strategically presented as an investment opportunity for Africa.
  • Members should draw a programme of action to distill best practice from the various regional blocks in order to promote evidence-based decision-making. The plan of action should include strategies for mobilizing resources for the Pan African Parliament.
  • Capacity building initiatives should enable the Parliamentarians to effectively deliver on their roles at the national, regional and the Pan African Parliament.
  • The capacity of regional groupings should be enhanced so that negotiations are done for the benefit of the continent.
  • Strong and emerging economies within the region should form strong strategic alliance in the process of regional integration.
  • Parliamentarians to engage their national Parliaments in the development of common regional policies, industrial staffing and agriculture within the regional blocks.

Motion on the Indigenisation and Empowerment (General) Regulations Statutory Instrument No. 21 of 2010

Hon. Alexio Musundire (MDC-T Zengeza East) seconded by Hon. Harrison Mudzuri (MDC-T Zaka Central) moved a motion in the House of Assembly calling for the repeal of the Indigenisation and Empowerment (General) Regulations Statutory Instrument No. 21 of 2010, which they said was impacting negatively on economic revival efforts, especially efforts aimed at encouraging Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Hon. Musundire pointed out that he was not against the indigenization and empowerment policy per se but the manner the current regulations were being implemented. He said the indigenization regulations were implemented without cabinet approval.

He argued that the indigenization policy as enshrined in Statutory Instrument 21 of 2010 was counterproductive as it was in direct conflict with other economic development policies such the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme (STERP), the Medium Term Plan (MTP) and the general investment promotion drive.

Thus, Hon. Musundire called for a “broad-based economic empowerment programme” which favours economic growth as opposed to just distributing existing assets.

Notice of Motion to Introduce a Private Member’s Bill

Hon. Tangwara Matimba (MDC-T Buhera Central) gave notice seeking leave of the House to bring in a Bill to amend the Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29:15] by reducing the powers of central government over municipal and town councils, thereby encouraging democracy at local levels. He said the Bill would also correct anomalies arising from previous amendments made to the Act. The motion will be debated when parliament resumes its sitting on Tuesday 25 October 2011.

Senate Plenary Proceedings

On Tuesday the senate engaged in a heated debate on Hon. Gonese’s motion which sought to restore his Amendment Bill on POSA to the Order Paper, which had lapsed due to prorogation of the 3rd Session. Despite the fact that it was not a substantive motion but a mere procedural motion, ZANU PF Senators strongly opposed the motion. The motion was meant to bring back the Bill onto the Order Paper to enable Senators to debate it so that they could pass or reject it. The debate took a very partisan approach. MDC Senators supported the motion arguing that it was proper to have the motion on the Order Paper which would allow Members to engage on a substantive debate on the Bill. However, ZANU PF Members said it was inappropriate to restore the Bill to the Order Paper since the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Hon. Patrick Chinamasa, informed the Senate when the Bill was first brought before the Senate in the 3rd Session that the matter was before the Global Political Agreement (GPA) negotiators.

Since Hon. Chinamasa was not in the House on Tuesday when the motion was debated, Hon. Gonese moved for the adjournment of debate until such a time Hon. Chinamasa was in the House so that he could update the Senate on the progress regarding negotiations on the matter.

Adjournment of Parliament

Both Houses adjourned until Tuesday 25 October 2011 in order to give time to the Budget and Justice Committees to conduct public hearings on the 2012 National Budget and the Electoral Amendment Bill, respectively. Dates and venues for the aforementioned public hearings were highlighted in our previous Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin.

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