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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 39 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
November 25, 2011

Introduction

The Minister of Finance, Hon. Tendai Biti, finally presented the 2012 National Budget to Parliament yesterday after having deferred it twice in as many days. The Speaker announced Members of the Privileges Committee set up to look into allegations of contempt of parliament by Arafas Gwaradzimba, the-government appointed administrator of the Shabanie Mashava Mines (SMM). On the matter brought to Parliament by Dr. Gideon Gono alleging improper conduct by Hon. Paddy Zhanda, the Speaker ruled that there was a prima facie case of breach of privilege.

House of Assembly Plenary Proceedings:

Appointment of the Committee on Privileges

The Speaker announced the Committee on Privileges set up by the Standing Rules and Orders Committee to investigate allegations of contempt of parliament raised by the Portfolio Committee on Mines, Energy and Power Development against Arafas Gwaradzimba. The Members are;

Hon. Emmerson Mnangagwa (ZANU PF) Hon. Paul Mangwana (ZANU PF) Hon. Jessie Majome (MDC-T) Hon. Shepherd Mushonga (MDC-T) Hon. Patrick Dube (MDC)

The Portfolio Committee on Mines Energy and Power Development alleged that after Mr. Arafas Gwaradzimba appeared before it he issued press statements to the effect that the Committee was biased against him and further insinuated that some Committee Members had been bribed by Mr. Mutumwa Mawere.

The task of the Privileges Committee is to establish if Mr. Gwaradzimba’s press statements amounted to contempt of parliament as prayed for by the Portfolio Committee on Mines Energy and Power Development. If found guilty, Mr. Gwaradzimba faces a maximum sentence of up to 2 years in prison or a level seven fine, depending on the recommendations of the Privileges Committee.

Speaker’s Ruling on Allegations of Impropriety by Hon. Zhanda

As reported in our Parliamentary Bulletin No. 37 – 2011, the Acting Chairman of the Budget Portfolio Committee, Hon Willas Madzimure, tabled the Committee’s interim report in terms of Select Committee Rule No. 13 asking the Speaker to make a ruling on a matter of breach of privilege leveled against Hon. Paddy Zhanda by Dr. Gono.

The Speaker made his ruling yesterday and said the allegations against Hon. Zhanda constituted a prima facie case of breach of privilege.

Following the Speaker’s ruling on the aforementioned matter, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs immediately moved a motion to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee to establish the veracity of the allegations against Hon. Zhanda. In an unprecedented move, the House unanimously opposed the motion.

Now that the House has rejected the referral of the matter to the Privileges Committee, the Standing Rules are not clear whether or not Hon. Zhanda would remain recused from chairing the Committee vis-à-vis the Budget Committee’s enquiry on RBZ.

Presentation of the 2012 National Budget

The 2012 National Budget was presented in Parliament by the Hon T. Biti, Minister of Finance on 24 November, 2011 under the theme, “Sustaining Efficient Inclusive Growth with Jobs” anchored by the implementation of the Medium Term Plan (MTP). The major thrust of the 2012 National Budget is the attainment of both, pro-poor and structural transformation growth, across all sectors. The Budget Strategy Paper that was released on 6th October, 2011 set the tone by providing the context and background to the Budget. However, there were adjustments to the macroeconomic framework owing to the $600 million diamond revenue expected in 2012 to be channeled to the fiscus that boosts government finances by 20% to US$4 billion. The major highlights of the 2011 Budget are-

2012 National Budget Highlights

  • GDP growth estimated at 9.3% in 2011, and projected to 9.4% in 2011, with the bulk of this growth expected from mining (44%), and agriculture (19.3%);, „g Annual Inflation to average between 3-5% in 2012, with rentals and alcohol being the major drivers of inflation;
  • Total 2012 Budget envelope is $4billion, with 57% channeled to employment cost, 22,5% for operations , 20% on capital expenditure and 0.5% on interest;
  • 65.3% of total employment cost goes to the civil service which remains unprecedentedly high ,
  • Tax and non-tax to contribute 85% of total revenue;
  • Capital expenditure is expected to gobble 50% of the $600million from diamond revenue;
  • Recurrent expenditure will gobble US$3.2 billion or 80% of government expenditure, while 20% will be devoted to capital expenditure;
  • Cash Budgeting and multiple currencies to prevail;
  • The budget made progress in complying with declarations and Protocols signed by the country, Education budget surpassed the target by more than 200% allocating 25% of the total budget;
  • A three year rolling Financing Strategy for the Agricultural season was proposed to improve planning and preparedness of farmers;
  • A $20million Jobs fund has been availed to provide seed capital to Zimbabwean with no collateral;
  • Customs duty has been increased for fresh produce, whereas Import duty was scraped on locally produced products such as soya meal and crude soya oil;
  • Royalties on gold and platinum to be increased from 4.5% and 5% to 7% and 10% respectively;
  • Income Tax bands have been widened from to start off from US$250 (a US$25 notch from 2011),
  • Incentives to the civil service to be exempted from tax, and
  • Bonus exempt tax threshold increased from the current US$500 to US$700.

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