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Inaugural PM's Question Time & Another Private Member's Bill
- Bill Watch 47/2011
November 01, 2011
Houses of Parliament
sat last week and adjourned until 15th November
Prime Minister’s Question Time in House of Assembly
Question Time was inaugurated
in the House of Assembly on Wednesday 26th October, taking up the
hour immediately after the opening prayer at 2.15 pm. Questions
put to the PM by MPs included:
- Are there
contradictions within Cabinet on indigenisation policy? The PM
said No, asserting that the policy is to encourage every Zimbabwean
to participate but not to contradict the “whole thrust of
promoting investment” because “everyone would agree
that the idea is not to share a small cake, the idea is to grow
the cake so that we can all share”. A follow-up question
on the ZIMPLATS Community Share Trust was disallowed by the Speaker
as raising matters that should be dealt with by the appropriate
- What is Government
policy on unfinished projects, some as much as 10 years old? The
PM, referring in particular to nearly completed building projects,
replied that the policy is to complete unfinished projects before
implementing new projects.
- What is Government
doing to ensure Zimbabwe is on track to achieve the Millennium
Development Goals? The PM said lack of resources meant the Government
might not achieve all the MDGs on time, but it was doing well
with health services.
- What is Government
doing about ending the broadcasting monopoly and opening up the
airwaves? The PM assured the Houses that the GPA
principals regarded it as “critical” that the Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe board be reconstituted. He added that the
principals had directed Minister Shamu accordingly and that there
have to be multiple media voices.
- What is Government
policy on stopping inter-party political violence? The PM said
violence was not taking place at the higher levels, but in the
villages and on farms. The government would be convening a meeting
of national executives of all political parties to come up with
a code of conduct for parties down to branch or ward level.
- Are the current
delays in the constitution-making process caused by lack of funding?
No, said the PM, funding has been provided. Delays are caused
by other factors.
Hansard record of the question and answer session can be accessed
on the Parliamentary website.
Question Time for the House will be on Wednesday 30th November [last
Wednesday of the month].
Prime Minister’s Question Time in Senate Cancelled
The first PM’s
Question Time in the Senate was scheduled for Thursday afternoon
but was called off after the Prime Minister sent his apologies,
saying he would not be able to attend. The next opportunity for
Senators to question the Prime Minister will be on Thursday 24th
November [last Thursday of the month].
at Victoria Falls This Week
This week most
Parliamentarians will be attending the Pre-Budget Seminar, which
will run from Wednesday 2nd to Saturday 5th November at Elephant
Hills, Victoria Falls. The Houses will not sit. The only committee
meetings will be on Monday and Tuesday [details not yet available
Heads of Government Meeting
communiqué of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting
in Perth, Western Australia, dated 30th October, contained one brief
paragraph on Zimbabwe: “The Heads of Government agreed …..
to look forward to the conditions being created for the return of
Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth and continue to encourage the parties
to implement the Global Political Agreement faithfully and effectively”.
Happened in the House of Assembly Last Week
Member’s Bill to amend the Urban
Councils Act: On 25th October after brief debate the House approved
a motion giving leave to MDC-T backbencher Tangwara Matimba, MP
for Buhera Central, to bring in a Private Member’s Bill to
amend the Urban Councils Act “by reducing the powers of central
government over municipal and town councils, thereby encouraging
democracy at local levels”. Hon Matimba then handed in a copy
of his Bill. Parliament will now send the Bill to the Government
Printer for printing and gazetting. Once it has been gazetted Hon
Matimba will be able to introduce it and it will be read the First
Time. From then it will follow the stages applicable to all Bills
– scrutiny by the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] and
the appropriate portfolio committee, Second Reading, etc. [Electronic
version of Bill available from email@example.com]
[Reminder: Only Government Bills may be introduced without the leave
of the House. Private members have the right to introduce Bills,
but must obtain the leave of the House before doing so. This is
the first move to bring in a Private Member’s Bill since MDC-T
Chief Whip Innocent Gonese was given leave to introduce his POSA
Amendment Bill in late 2009.]
The three lapsed Bills have not been revived:
Human Rights Commission [ZHRC] Bill: Minister of Justice,
Legal Affairs, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick
Chinamasa has not yet given notice of a motion to restore this
Bill to the Order Paper.
Amendment Bill: Mr Chinamasa has not given notice of a motion
to restore this Bill either. Even if the Minister gets it restored
to the Order Paper, further proceedings will have to wait for
the PLC’s report to be tabled. The PLC has already drafted
an adverse report, identifying aspects of the Bill it considers
unconstitutional but the draft has not been made public.
Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill: A motion already
on the Order Paper by the Minister of Industry and Commerce proposes
the restoration of this Bill to the Order Paper.
Agreement approved: The Statute of the International Centre for
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
Motion on diamond
mining operations at Marange/Chiadzwa
diamond fields approved: On Wednesday MDC-T MP Eddie Cross delivered
a detailed speech proposing his motion, which calls for nationalisation
of the diamond fields; for mining to be carried out only by a reputable
company, selected by international tender, and in partnership with
the Government and the community; and for halting illicit dealing
in diamonds by removing all unauthorised persons from the fields
securing the boundaries against unlawful entry. Citing the example
of Botswana, Mr Cross gave figures illustrating that under his proposals
Chiadzwa could generate $2.8 billion annually for the fiscus. Several
MPs made contributions in support of the motion, and it was approved
unopposed on Thursday.
condolence motion: Hon Dumbu introduced his motion to extend condolences
to the family of the late Minister of Public Service and MP for
Gutu South, who died on 5th August. Debate was adjourned to permit
Motion on unconstitutional
statements by service chiefs restored to Order Paper: The House
resolved that Hon Chikwinya’s lapsed motion be restored to
the Order Paper to allow further debate.
report on state of affairs at Shabani-Mashava Mines: The House approved
a resolution “taking note of” the portfolio committee’s
report, which criticised the Government’s handling of this
issue. [Electronic version of report available from firstname.lastname@example.org.]
hour following Wednesday’s inaugural Prime Minister’s
Question Time was devoted to Ministers’ responses to MPs’
written questions previously put down on the Order Paper. Topics
Copies of birth
certificates: Co-Minister of Home Affairs Makone explained the birth
registration system and said it is not necessary for people to come
to Harare to get copies of long birth certificates; they are obtainable
at provincial registry offices.
to GDP by arts and culture sector: The Deputy Minister of Education,
Sport, Arts and Culture, giving a detailed reply, said the sector
contributes 14%-16% of the GDP [approximately $500 billion in 2007,
more than the agricultural sector’s $400 billion]. The arts
and culture sector is also a major factor in the success of the
closely-related tourism sector.
The Minister of Labour and Social Services gave an overview of the
various NSSA pension schemes and said pensions were being reviewed
with a view to an increase next year.
level pass rates: The Deputy Minister of Education went into detail
about the Ministry’s plans to improve exam results, including:
achieving by the end of 2011 a book-to-pupil ratio of 1:1 for the
6 core secondary school subjects; restoration of subject-specialist
education inspectors to enhance service delivery by subject teachers;
and the abolition of hot seating.
The Minister of Labour and Social Services explained that to qualify
for BEAM [Basic Education Module] funding a child must already be
registered at a school, but unable to pay fees; the neediest beneficiaries
are selected by a committee of the school community, bearing in
mind the community’s BEAM budget allocation; once validated
by a school community meeting, the beneficiaries list is verified
by the district education officer and the district social welfare
officer before approval at provincial level. The social welfare
department conducts spot checks to curb abuse.
MDGs: The Minister
of Labour and Social Services also explained her Ministry’s
coordinating role in Zimbabwe’s efforts to achieve the MDGs
on time, and gave the Government's list of priorities: 1. eradicate
extreme poverty and hunger; 2. achieve universal primary education;
3 reduce child mortality.
Happened in the Senate Last Week
Motion to Restore
POSA Amendment Bill to the Order Paper adjourned again: This meant
that there was no further debate on Mr Gonese’s motion to
revive his Private Member’s Bill. On 11th October Mr Gonese’s
made a speech urging Senators to pass this motion, and debate was
adjourned until Minister Chinamasa could be present to elaborate
on his contention that the Bill should not be proceeded with because
it is under consideration as part of the GPA implementation negotiations.
The Senate approved
the following agreements already approved by the House of Assembly:
of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
approved by the House of Assembly on Tuesday
Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements with India, Iran
by Parliament awaiting gazetting as Acts
Protection Corporation Bill [final reading in Parliament -
- Small Enterprises
Development Corporation Amendment Bill [final reading in Parliament
- 12th July]
have been awaiting the President’s assent for some time. The
President’s absences from the country should not hold things
up - the Constitution allows an Acting President to assent to Bills.]
- Older Persons
Bill [gazetted 9th September] [Electronic version available from
- Urban Councils
Amendment Bill [Private Member’s Bill - see above]
No Bills or
Acts were gazetted on the 21st nor on the 28th October.
SI 121 set out Bulawayo Cemeteries amendment by-laws.
SIs 122-125 provided for customs rebates and suspensions.
SI 126 enacted
new domestic workers wages and allowances effective 1st October
[this is the first such statutory instrument since 2007]; wages
range from $85 to $100 per month; allowances, for workers not living
on the employer’s premises cover accommodation [$50 per month],
transport [$25 per month] and lights, fuel and water [$15 per month
in total]. [Electronic version of SI 126 available from email@example.com]
459/2011 of 28th October under the indigenisation regulations fixes
net asset value of $100,000 for businesses in the manufacturing
sector and specifies four annual stages to achieve the 51% indigenous
shareholding. [Electronic version available from firstname.lastname@example.org]
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