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High Court orders holding of 3 Matabeleland by-elections - Bill
October 17, 2011
of Parliament have adjourned until Tuesday 25th October
High Court Orders By-Elections
In a judgment
handed down on 13th October Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Ndou
has ordered President Mugabe to announce within 14 days dates for
the holding of by-elections in the House
of Assembly constituencies of Lupane East, Nkayi South and Bulilima
East. The 14 days will start running when the order is delivered
to the President’s office. The last time the High Court ordered
the holding of overdue by-elections was in 2008 after the deaths
of candidates caused the cancellation of polling in three constituencies
in the March general election. The Government complied with the
court order and the by-elections were held on the same day as the
Presidential run-off election at the end of June 2008.
So far there
has been no official comment; the responsible Minister – the
Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa –
only returns to his office today after presenting Zimbabwe’s
Universal Periodic Review report on human rights to the United Nations
Human Rights Council last week. [If the Government were to appeal
to the Supreme Court, it would be unlikely to succeed, so an appeal
would be little more than a delaying tactic.]
The House of
Assembly seats for these constituencies have been vacant since August
2009, when MDC-M notified the Speaker that the sitting MPs had been
expelled from the party and no longer represented its interests
in Parliament. The MPs concerned – Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso
Mguni and Norman Mpofu – then automatically lost their seats
in terms of section 41(1)(e) of the Constitution.
Article 21 of the GPA
the three GPA parties agreed that for one year they would not contest
by-elections against each other, but would leave the party that
formerly held a vacant seat to field a candidate unopposed by the
other two parties. The one-year pact was later extended by agreement
of the party principals. But this did not change the Constitution,
which entitles voters in constituencies to have their representatives
in Parliament, or the Electoral
Act, which requires the prompt holding of by-elections.
The High Court’s
order has wide implications. These are not the only vacant Parliamentary
seats. Vacancies have been occurring since July 2008 and no by-elections
have been called. There are now 18 vacant seats in the House of
Assembly and Senate. Calling by-elections is the duty of the President,
not the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, and the Electoral Act says
the President must call a by-election within 14 days of a vacancy
being officially notified to his office.
Review [UPR] of Zimbabwe’s Human Rights Performance
of Justice and Legal Affairs presented
the Government’s UPR report at a meeting of the working group
of the United Nations Human Rights Council [HRC] on Monday 10th
October. For those with appropriate Internet access video footage
of the entire 4-hour proceedings can be viewed at www.unmultimedia.org
The Minister blamed shortcomings in the country’s human rights
record on “illegal” international sanctions. In accordance
with HRC rules, the views of other stakeholders [Zimbabwean and
international human rights organisations] were presented and these
are summarised in a report
by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [OHCHR]
in a report in which many of the assertions in the Government report
are challenged and a rather different picture of the human rights
situation in Zimbabwe presented. The OHCHR also produced a compilation
of the information contained in the reports of treaty bodies, including
observations and comments by Zimbabwe, and other relevant official
United Nations documents. Electronic versions of the Government
report and the two OHCHR documents are available from firstname.lastname@example.org
Out of 177 recommendations to improve the country’s human
rights situation the Minister rejected 67 [including the scrapping
and “security sector reform”]; will respond to 31 at
the HRC’s next session in 2012; and accepted the remainder.
Of those accepted, many were “soft options” to respect
economic, social and cultural rights given adequate resources, and
unlikely to halt the many serious human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
But it is promising that the Minister undertook that the Government
would work with civil society in the human rights field.
Near Bottom on 2011 Ibrahim Index of African Governance
repeating the 2010 rankings, Zimbabwe is ranked near the bottom
of the just-released 2011 Ibrahim Index of African Governance:
- 51st out
of the 53 African countries [the Index is based on data from 2010,
so it excludes the newly independent South Sudan]
- 12th out
of their grouping of 12 Southern African countries.
Only Chad [No.
52] and Somalia [No. 53] have lower rankings. Just above Zimbabwe
are the Central African Republic [No. 50] and the DRC [No. 51].
The top five places are held by Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana,
Seychelles and South Africa. Although Zimbabwe has done reasonably
well on Infrastructure [15th position, scoring 37 out of 100, against
an African average of 31] and Education [24th position, scoring
49 against the average 51], it is way down the list for Participation
and Human Rights [47th position, scoring 27 against the average
45]; Safety and Rule of Law [51st position, scoring 28 against the
average 53]; Business Environment [52nd position, scoring 9 against
the average 50]. Full data on this year’s Index rankings can
be found at www.moibrahimfoundation.org.
Seminar for Parliamentarians
Seminar for all MPs will be held at the Elephant Hills complex,
Victoria Falls, from Wednesday 2nd to Saturday 5th November.
Public Hearings This Week
Bill Watch -
Parliamentary Committee Series bulletins dated 12th and 14th October
have given details of this weeks countrywide public hearings on:
Week in the House of Assembly
The House sat
on 11th and 12th October, and for 14 minutes on 13th October.
no steps were taken to restore the Zimbabwe
Human Rights Commission Bill or the Electoral
Amendment Bill to the Order Paper. This was because the Minister
of Justice and Legal Affairs, who is responsible for both Bills,
was out of the country all week on official duty in Geneva. The
other Bill waiting to be restored is the National
Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill; a motion to restore
it has been put down by the Minister of Industry and Commerce.
without debate or objections, the House approved Bilateral Investment
Promotion and Protection Agreements with Botswana, India. There
was no further queries about the BIPPA with Iran, despite MPs’
complaints the previous week that the Minister had not laid a sufficient
basis for its approval. The agreements were then transmitted to
the Senate for consideration.
There was progress
- the General
Mujuru condolence motion - One MP suggested that public lack of
confidence in the police force necessitates the appointment of
independent investigators into the circumstances of his tragic
- the motion
calling for the withdrawal of the Indigenisation
and Empowerment Regulations [SI 21/2010] and the indigenisation
requirements for the mining industry [GN
114/2011] and their replacement by revised versions addressing
broad-based programmes - MDC-T MP Alexio Musundire proposed the
motion in a short speech stressing the conflict between the regulations
and the Government’s economic revival policy, and calling
for new regulations that would create an atmosphere for economic
revival and foreign direct investment and would allow ordinary
Zimbabweans rather than an elite clique of already rich people
to enjoy the benefits.
on Wednesday 12th October included:
Effect of indigenisation
policy on foreign investment - the Minister of Economic Planning
and Investment Promotion acknowledged that investors are concerned
about the investment law, with the result that implementation of
by the Zimbabwe Investment Centre is affected by a “wait and
see” attitude on the part of investors. But the Minister also
said that the 51% indigenisation requirement is flexible enough
to permit a lesser investments approved percentage to be negotiated
in special cases. [This seems contradicted by Zimbabwe’s next-to-bottom
ranking for “Business Environment” in the Ibrahim Index.]
diamond mining - The Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development
explained that the law governing diamond mining is presently set
out in the Mines and Minerals Act and Precious Stones Trade Act,
but that the Attorney-General’s Office is engaged in drafting
a Bill for a separate Diamonds Act.
Week in the Senate
The Senate sat
on Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th October, then adjourned till
the 25th October.
Motion to Restore
POSA Amendment Bill
to the Order Paper Hon Gonese spoke in support of his motion to
restore this lapsed Bill to the Order Paper. ZANU-PF Senators spoke
in opposition, referring to Minister Chinamasa’s assertion
last session that the Bill should not be further debated because
POSA is being considered by the GPA party principals. Eventually
Mr Gonese moved the adjournment of the debate until Minister Chinamasa
could be present to explain the position further.
Motion of thanks
to the President for his speech opening the session. There were
brief contributions to this ongoing debate.
Ahead to the Sittings Starting on 25th October
will not be sitting this week - or, because of the Victoria Falls
Pre-Budget Seminar from 2nd to 5th November, during the week after
next - the three or four sitting days from 25th October are likely
to be busy. The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs can be expected
to push for his Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill and Electoral
Amendment Bill to be restored to the Order Paper and taken through
both Houses during the week.
of Bills [no changes]
by Parliament awaiting gazetting as Acts
Protection Corporation Bill
- Small Enterprises
Development Corporation Amendment Bill
- Bill Awaiting
- Older Persons
Bill [gazetted 9th September] [Electronic version available from
Gazette 14th October
No Bills, Acts
or statutory instruments were gazetted.
Consolidated Statement of Financial Performance for the month of
July 2011 was included in this Gazette.
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