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Budget today; Setting up Media Council - Bill Watch 52/2011
Veritas
November 24, 2011

The 2012 Budget will be presented this afternoon

The Minister of Finance will deliver his twice-postponed 2012 Budget Statement in the House of Assembly this afternoon.

In Parliament 22nd and 23rd November

House of Assembly

Tuesday The acting chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion reported to the House that in a letter to his Committee the Governor of the Reserve Bank had charged the Committee’s chairperson, Mr Zhanda, with putting pressure on the Governor in an effort to get him to favour Mr Zhanda’s personal interests. [Under Mr Zhanda’s leadership the Committee has been investigating aspects of Reserve Bank business.] There was no debate, as the Speaker said he would make a ruling on 24th November on what action should be taken. As required by Standing Orders, Mr Zhanda has stepped down as chairperson of the Committee pending the resolution of the matter.

The House then devoted most of its short sitting to hearing the final contributions to the debate on the condolence motion for the late General Mujuru. Hon Bhasikiti, the motion’s proposer, wound up the debate and the House passed the motion.

There was celebratory noise before the sitting commenced, with congratulations being accepted by ZANU-PF MP Biata Nyamupinga, sister of the paparazzi-alleged bride of the Prime Minister. A congratulatory remark was made by MP Mazikana, ZANU-PF, during proceedings, but the Deputy Speaker ruled that celebrations could continue after the session – which they did. There had been no official confirmation of the marriage.

Wednesday – International Agreements approved After presentations by the Minister of Industry and Commerce and the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce the House approved two international agreements:

  • EU-ESA [Eastern and Southern Africa] Interim Economic Partnership Agreement signed in Mauritius on 29th August 2009
  • International Coffee Agreement of 2007

Wednesday – Question Time Several MPs put questions “without notice” to Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara on MPs’ remuneration. One asked the Minister of Labour whether she could assist MPs in their plight; she replied it was outside her mandate. The DPM undertook to report back to the House next week after discussing the matter with the President and the Prime Minister.

Senate

Tuesday - The Senate sat for only 13 minutes. There were no contributions to the debates on the motions currently before the Senate.

Wednesday - The Senate sat for 24 minutes. After a brief final contribution to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President for his speech opening the current Session by Senator Simon Khaya Moyo, ZANU-PF Chairperson, the motion was approved. In concluding his winding-up speech Senator Moyo also, on behalf of ZANU-PF, congratulated the Prime Minister on his “marriage”. MDC-T Senators objected and their whip Mrs Gladys Dube demanded that that Senator Moyo withdraw this, saying “you can’t rely on newspapers” and no marriage had been confirmed. The President of the Senate then asked Senator Moyo to withdraw the congratulations.

The Senate then adjourned until Thursday 24th November

Prime Minister’s Question Time in the Senate Prime Minister’s Question Time will not take place this Thursday because of the Budget presentation.

In Parliament Last Week

Both Houses sat on Tuesday 15th November only.

House of Assembly

Condolence motions: There were brief contributions to the ongoing debates on the condolence motions for Professor Mukonoweshuro and General Solomon Mujuru.

No Bills dealt with No moves were made to restore the Human Rights Commission Bill and the Electoral Amendment Bill to the Order Paper. At this rate neither Bill is likely to be proceeded with this year, as Budget business is likely to dominate the scarce remaining Parliamentary time before the customary December recess.

Senate

Report on APU Conference Senator Mumvuri presented a report on the Conference of Speakers of Parliaments of the African Parliamentary Union that was held in Equatorial Guinea at the end of 2010. Senators congratulated President of the Senate Ednah Madzongwe on her election as a Vice-President of the APU at the conference.

Motion on partisan public media Senator Komichi of MDC-T proposed his motion deploring the partisan nature of TV and radio services in Zimbabwe, and the print and electronic media, condemning hate speech and abuse of press freedom by partisan media, and calling for the “relevant thematic committee” to investigate “these unethical and unprofessional activities”. His speech concentrated on the failings of the national broadcaster [ZBH] as a public broadcaster and the pro-ZANU-PF and anti MDC-T bias of ZBH’s TV and radio stations. ZANU-PF’s Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said Hon Komichi should have provided statistics to back up his complaints. There were other contributions to the debate from all sides, with ZANU-PF Senators levelling criticism against outside radio stations and the independent print media. [Note: Earlier this year the House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology produced a report on the State of Public Media in Zimbabwe.] Electronic version available from veritas@mango.zw

Zimbabwe Media Commission to Establish Media Council

The chairperson of the Zimbabwe Media Commission [ZMC], Mr Godfrey Majonga, has said that the Commission would establish the Media Council before the end of November. He said letters had been written to appropriate organisations [see below] asking them to nominate representatives for appointment as members of the Council – each organisation has been asked to put up three names. Mr Majonga pointed out – correctly – that the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [AIPPA] obliges ZMC to set up the Council. [Section 42A(1) says “the Commission shall appoint a Media Council”. This section and other sections relating to the Media Council were inserted into AIPPA by an amending Act passed by Parliament in late 2007 as part of a “package” agreed to by all three main political parties ahead of the 2008 elections].

How Media Council to be appointed: Under section 42A of AIPPA, the chairperson of the 14-member Media Council must be a member of the Commission. The other 13 members are:

  • 2 members nominated by an association or associations representing accredited journalists;
  • 2 members nominated by an association or associations representing advertisers and advertising agencies;
  • 7 members nominated by associations representing each of the following groups [1 member per group]: publishers, advertising agencies, mass media trainers, religious bodies, business, trade union federations, women’s groups and youth groups
  • 2 members representing the legal profession, one selected by the Commission from a panel submitted by the Law Society and the other from a panel submitted by university law faculties.

[Note: Only the members representing the legal profession have to be selected by the Commission from panels of nominees; each of the other 11 representative members must be a person nominated by the associations that “in the opinion of the Commission” are representative of the group concerned. This means that, if the associations put up only one name per group, 11 members could in reality be chosen by the associations, with appointment by the Commission a mere formality. It is for the Commission, however, to decide which associations are representative of the specified groups – which could cause disputes in groups where there are rival associations. Importantly, if a group fails to nominate anyone at all, it is for the Commission to appoint someone it considers representative of the group.]

Functions of Media Council: The principal functions of the Media Council are stated in AIPPA:

  • assisting ZMC in its task of drawing up a code of conduct and ethics for journalists and mass media services [the final word on the code rests with ZMC];
  • conducting disciplinary hearings when alleged breaches of the code are referred to it by ZMC [the Council cannot itself initiate such proceedings];
  • when the Council finds a journalist or mass media service guilty, recommending to ZMC the penalty that should be imposed by ZMC [again, the final decision and responsibility for taking action rest with ZMC].

Penalties for journalists and mass media services found guilty of breaching the code include cautioning, monetary penalties and suspension of registration.

Status of Bills

Bills Passed by Parliament awaiting gazetting as Acts

Bill Gazetted and Awaiting Presentation

Bill being Printed for Gazetting

Government Gazette: 11th and 18th November

No Bills or Acts were gazetted. Statutory instruments under the Customs and Excise Act were the only ones gazetted [electronic copies NOT available].

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied

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