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Roundup Bulletin No. 41 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
December 07, 2011
After some heated
haggling over the date to which the budget debate had been adjourned
last week, the House
of Assembly finally debated and passed the 2012
National Budget in fast-track fashion. Hon. Brian Tshuma (MDC-T
Hwange Central) gave notice of motion calling for the dismissal
of the Clerk of Parliament, Mr. Austin Zvoma. Hon. Settlement Chikwinya
(MDC-T Mbizo) gave notice of motion for the dissolution of the Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) as it was improperly constituted and
consequently the cancellation of the radio licences recently awarded
to Zimpapers Talk Radio and AB Communications by BAZ.
House of Assembly
on the 2012 National Budget
Debate on the
2012 National Budget yesterday was preceded by a heated procedural
argument by ZANU PF and MDC-T Members over the date to which the
debate on the budget had been adjourned last week. ZANU PF argued
that the debate had been adjourned to Tuesday 13 December 2011 whereas
MDC-T Members said it was Tuesday 6 December 2011. After some caucusing
between the Acting Speaker, Hon. Nomalanga Khumalo, the Acting Leader
of the House, Hon. Professor Arthur Mutambara, the Minister of Constitutional
Affairs Hon. Advocate Eric Matinenga and the respective party Chief
Whips, sanity finally prevailed and the debate on the 2012 National
Budget went ahead.
of the Budget Finance and Investment Promotion Committee
As per Parliamentary
tradition, the Chairperson of the Budget Finance and Investment
Promotion Committee, Hon. Paddy Zhanda led debate on the 2012 National
Budget as he presented the Committee’s report on the proposed
budget. His report dwelt much on the macro-economic aspect of the
budget whereas reports from Portfolio Committees focused on their
relevant sectors. Hon. Zhanda noted that parliamentary committees
were not afforded adequate time to scrutinize the Budget. He therefore
called for the amendment of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA)
to “allow parliament enough time to consult and analyze the
budget to avoid continuous discord between the Executive and Parliament”.
Notwithstanding this setback, Hon. Zhanda commended the Minister
of Finance Hon. Tendai Biti for coming up with a “very reasonable
budget under very difficult circumstances”. He also commended
the Minister for conducting public consultations on the 2012 National
noted in its report that key sectors such as energy, agriculture,
manufacturing, mining, tourism, financial sector, health etc needed
to be looked at closely. On dealing with challenges facing the energy
sector, the Committee recommended that government should convene
an Energy and Investment Conference to thrash out problems bedeviling
this sector. On the agriculture sector, the Committee commended
the Minister of Finance for coming up with the idea of an Agriculture
Three-year Rolling Financing Strategy. However, the Committee argued
that in addition of this strategy, government should look into alternative
financing sources for agriculture as government alone could not
sufficiently do it. On the mining sector the Committee emphasized
on the need for transparency and accountability in the mining of
all minerals in the country to ensure that all Zimbabweans benefit
from these “finite resources”. Regarding the financial
sector, the Committee noted that “total sanity in the financial
sector can only be achieved once there is sanity at the central
bank itself’. The committee further urged government to bring
closure to the demonetized Zimbabwe dollar deposits, which have
remained outstanding since 2009.
In his report,
Hon. Zhanda noted that parliament’s role on the debt overhang
was reduced to “rubber-stamping” through ratification
of the debt instead of taking part in the whole debt origination
and contracting process. He thus called for amendments to the PFMA
to ensure Parliament played an active oversight role in debt “origination
and contracting by analyzing, reviewing and scrutinizing the purpose
of debt and its terms and conditions before the agreements have
been signed government.”
appealed to the Minister of Finance to allocate 1% of the National
Budget to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) if this programme
is to make a meaningful impact in community development. He lamented
the fact that decisions on the fund were currently left to the discretion
of the executive. He thus called for the enactment of legislation
to deal with CDF matters in order to achieve transparency, accountability
and permanent future of the fund.
of Portfolio Committees noted in their reports that the 2012 National
Budget attempted to address key sectors of the economy despite limited
resources. Though they were not very happy with allocations to some
programmes under their sectors, they urged Treasury to release the
allocated resources timeously for the smooth implementation of programmes.
They noted that late release of funds by treasury resulted in key
national projects remaining incomplete for years.
Response to Concerns of Committees
In his response,
Hon. Biti acknowledged concerns raised by Members regarding the
2012 National Budget as it affected the economic and social sectors
they shadow. However, he said there was not much his ministry could
do given the “small size of the cake”. He said the challenge
was to expand the cake so that it was big enough to meet the needs
of all the ministries.
late release of funds by treasury which all portfolio committees
lamented in their reports, the Minister said this was due to the
fact that the country was operating a “cash budget system”
as there were no reserves in government coffers.
Hon. Biti also
pointed out that much of the budget resources were skewed in favour
of the re-current expenditure, of which the wage bill accounted
for 63%, a situation that was clearly untenable. This left little
resources for capital projects and key national programmes. And
even in terms of releasing the resources, Treasury had to prioritize
argued that given limited government resources, there was a need
to encourage the participation of the private sector in major infrastructural
projects like dam construction and power station construction through
the Private-Public Partnership concept.
On the CDF concerns
raised by Members, Hon. Biti agreed with observations made by Hon.
Zhanda that the fund should be legislated. He made an undertaking
to look into the possibility of bringing in a Bill to Parliament
next year after liaising with the Minister of Constitutional and
After the Budget
debate had been exhausted, the budget legislation, namely; Finance
(No. 2) Bill (H.B. 6, 2011) Appropriation (2012) Bill (H.B. 6, 2011)
and the Appropriation (2011) Amendment Bill (H.B. 8, 2011) were
fast-tracked and passed in no time. The Budget now awaits approval
by the Senate on Tuesday 13 December 2011.
of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) Board
Chikwinya gave notice to introduce a motion in the House of Assembly
calling for the dissolution of the BAZ Board and the cancellation
of the radio licences that it recently awarded to Zimpapers talk
Radio and AB Communications. He said the BAZ Board was improperly
constituted and ultra vires the Broadcasting
Services Amendment Act (2007) which provides for the appointment
of BAZ Board by the President in consultation with the parliamentary
Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC). However, the current
BAZ Board was unilaterally appointed by the Minster of Media, Information
and Publicity, Hon. Webster Shamu.
of the Clerk of Parliament
Hon. Brian Tshuma
gave notice of a motion calling for the dismissal of the Clerk of
Parliament, Mr. Austin Zvoma in terms of section 48(2) of the Constitution
of Zimbabwe, for the following “misdemeanors” which
he said brought the image of parliament into disrepute:
i) Failure to
conduct elections of the Speaker on 25th August 2008 in accordance
with section 39 of the Constitution
and Standing Order No. 6 as noted by the Supreme Court Ruling nullifying
the afore-mentioned election.
and unilaterally deferring the sitting of the House of Assembly
on 22nd March 2011,
for the legal advice from the Attorney General regarding the status
of the Matobo North Constituency following the Supreme Court's Ruling
on the 2008 election of the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
attitude towards Honorable Members of this August House and in particular,
the Office of the Speaker.
of press statements contemptuous of Honourable Members of this House,
with the records of the proceedings of this House by expunging some
material from the Hansard of 29 March 2011 without the authority
of the House.
to Tuesday 13 December 2011, to allow ZANU PF Members to attend
their party’s conference in Bulawayo, which begins this Thursday.
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