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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 38 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
November 24, 2011

Introduction

The House of Assembly Members spent the entire segment of Questions without Notice on Wednesday 23 November “grilling” the Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara over their allowances and welfare issues. The House of Assembly also passed the Economic Partnership Agreement and the Coffee Agreement. The Senate adopted a motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.

House of Assembly Plenary Proceedings:

Questions Without Notice

In a rare show of unity backbenchers across the political divide attacked the executive over their outstanding sitting allowances. Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara was put on the spotlight as Members demanded to know why the Executive decided to pay their sitting allowances staring this November instead of backdating them to August 2008 when they were sworn-in as Members of Parliament for the Seventh Session.

The issue of Member’s allowances has been outstanding since 2008. However, the Global Political Agreement (GPA) Principals recently pegged the sitting allowance for Members at $75 per sitting with effect of November 2011.

As indicated above, Members spent the entire session on questions without notice posing questions to Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara on issues to do with their welfare. Members were in no mood to discuss other issues except the issue of their allowances. Hon. Matimba and Hon. Dumbu suffered the wrath of their colleagues for posing questions to the Ministers of Mines and Mining Development and Education Sport Art and Culture, respectively.

Backbenchers accused the Executive of belittling them as compared to members of the other arms of the state; Ministers and Judges whom they said were well-looked after by the state.

Professor Mutambara made an undertaking to discuss the matter with his two colleagues; President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai, and bring finality to the issue. He promised to report back to the backbenchers on Wednesday next week.

Questions with Notice

Policy Regarding Students Loans and Grants

Hon. Dorcus Sibanda (MDC-T Bulawayo Central) asked the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education to explain to the House the current government policy regarding tertiary student loans and grants. In response, Hon. Dr. Mudenge said government abolished the policy in 2007 due fiscal constraints. Government then replaced this policy with the Students Cadetship Programme, which was meant to assist students from poor backgrounds. But even with this programme, government did not have adequate resources to cater for all the deserving applicants. He said his ministry was sitting on more than 50 000 applications from students across the tertiary institutions in the country who had applied for the scheme but treasury was still yet to release funding.

Printing of Text books in South Africa

Hon. Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (ZANU PF Uzumba) questioned the Minister of Education Sports Arts and Culture why the publishing companies that won a tender to print secondary school text books were printing them in South Africa not Zimbabwe. Deputy Minister Lazarus Dokora said it was the publishers’ choice to do so as they wanted to ensure that the product met recommended quality standards.

Policy Regarding Sexual Relationships between Teachers and Students

Hon. Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (ZANU PF Uzumba) asked the Minister of Education Sports Arts and Culture to explain to the House the policy regarding improper relationships between teachers and female students in light of Uzumba High School, Mr. Blessing Kadungure who was found intimate with female student. Deputy Minister Lazarus Dokora said such disciplinary matters were governed by the Public Service Commission regulations of conduct. He said the initial step was that the culprit was suspended for a period of 3 months pending investigations. Hon. Dokora said with Blessing Kadungure has since been discharged from the Civil Service.

Ratification of Agreements

The House of Assembly ratified the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which was signed in Mauritius on 29th August 2009 at a signing ceremony between the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and the European Union (EU) and the International Coffee Agreement concluded in London, United Kingdom on 28th September 2007 at the Conference convened by the International Coffee Organization (ICO).

The aforesaid agreements were ratified in fulfillment of subsection (1) of section 111B of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Senate Plenary Proceedings:

The Senate adopted a motion in reply to Presidential Speech. In winding up his motion, Senator Simon Khaya Moyo took the opportunity to clarify his statement on violence which the press wrapped him for the previous week. He said he was against violence but maintained his stance that if one is attacked he or she has the right of self-defence. He said the private media, in particular the Newsday, was unfair to him in the manner they covered the story. He urged the media to always uphold media ethics and professionalism.

On a lighter note, he extended his party’s congratulation to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who recently “marriage” to his new wife. However, this did not go down well with MDC-T Senators and compelled Senator Moyo to withdraw his statement before his motion could be adopted.

Presentation of the 2012 National Budget

The Minister of Finance is scheduled to present the 2012 National Budget this afternoon at 2.45 pm, after two failed attempts.

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