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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 44 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
December 16, 2011

Introduction

The Zvoma motion continued to hog the limelight in the House of Assembly as ZANU PF Members walked out during debate. The Speaker made a ruling on the procedural issues raised by ZANU PF on Wednesday during the debate on the motion. The Prime Minister, Hon. Morgan Tsvangirai delivered his year-end ministerial statement on the state of the nation. Hon. Settlement Chikwinya concluded his motion calling for the dissolution of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and the cancellation of licences issued to Talk Radio and AB Communications.

House of Assembly Plenary Proceedings:

Speaker’s Ruling on Mr. Zvoma’s Court Interdict

The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Lovemore Moyo, made a ruling on procedural arguments raised by ZANU PF Members on Wednesday 14 December when debating the motion calling for the dismissal of the Clerk of Parliament, Mr. Austin Zvoma. ZANU PF Members had sought to block the debate on the motion raising the sub-judice rule as they argued that the matter was in court.

In his ruling, the Speaker said a matter referred to in Standing Order No. 62(d) was one where pleadings have been closed and all parties to the case have submitted their arguments to the court, and awaits the judge’s decision. The mere filing of a court application is insufficient to warrant the invocation of Standing Order No. 62(d).” He noted that if the Speaker were to expunge motions on the Order Paper on the basis of someone having merely filed a court application, the House would never conduct any business. The Speaker further informed the House that Parliament had not in any event received a court order barring debate on the motion.

Regarding the argument by ZANU PF MPs that he should recuse himself from presiding over the Zvoma debate, Hon. Moyo said “the reasons put forward seeking the Speaker’s recusal are insufficient for such action because the motion refers to the flawed election process, not the officer elected as a result thereof.” He further noted that since the court application cited the Speaker and all the Chairs of the House were cited in the court application, that left an untenable situation that no presiding officer could chair over the debate of the motion.

The Speaker argued that the matter before the House related to internal procedures of the Legislative Arm of Government and therefore unwarranted interference in these internal processes seriously undermined the authority and integrity of the Legislative arm of Government, and compromised the Doctrine of Separation of Powers.

Adoption of the Motion on the Dismissal of Zvoma

During the debate on this motion, ZANU PF Members walked out of the House after procedural disagreements with their counterparts on the motion to dismiss the Clerk of Parliament. Firstly, ZANU PF Members insisted that the motion was sub-judice and therefore it should not be debated. Secondly, they argued that Mr. Zvoma should have been given a right of reply before the motion was debated in the House not the other way round, which Hon. Mushonga sought to do with his amendment to the original motion.

Hon. Mushonga proposed that before Parliament could take a vote on the dismissal of Mr. Zvoma, a panel of 5 Members be set up to hear his side of the story in view of the allegations raised against him by Hon. Tshuma. The Special five-member committee will make recommendations to the full House on its findings whether to immediately terminate the Clerk of Parliament's contract of employment, to suspend him without pay for a period of time, to demote him or to reprimand him.

The House (minus ZANU PF Members) adopted Tshuma’s motion together with Hon. Mushonga’s amendment.

What is left now is for the Standing Rules and Orders Committee to set up a 5-Member Committee to look into the allegations leveled against Mr. Zvoma by Hon. Tshuma and table a report in the House for the resolution of the issue.

Adoption of the Motion on the Dissolution of BAZ

The House adopted a motion by Hon. Settlement Chikwinya calling for the dissolution of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ). During Hon. Chikwinya’s debate to wind up his motion, Hon. Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (ZANU PF Uzumba) raised a point of order and alleged the Speaker misled the House when he said the Standing Rules and Orders Committee did not submit any nominees for the appointment to the BAZ Board. Hon. Mudarikwa claimed to be in possession of a letter signed by the Speaker recommending parliament’s nominees for appointment to the BAZ Board. However, the Deputy Speaker ruled Hon. Mudarikwa out of order and advised him to move a motion to prove his allegations against the Speaker.

It remains to be seen whether what Hon. Chikwinya sought to achieve through his motion will be implemented by the executive since the motion has been adopted by Parliament. Usually before a motion can be adopted by Parliament, the Minister whose department is the subject-matter of the motion is required to respond to issues raised by backbenchers on the motion. It is not clear why Hon. Chikwinya rushed to conclude debate on the motion before the Minister of Media Information and Publicity could respond.

Prime Minister’s Address to Parliament

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai addressed the House of Assembly yesterday on the state of the nation. He said the purpose of his address was to give feedback to the House on programmes that government had been implementing during the course of the year.

He informed the House that the implementation of programmes was affected mainly by lack of unity of purpose by coalition government members. However, he said despite factors militating against the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), the inclusive government managed to register some positive achievements; for example, stabilization of the economy, improvements in the education and health sectors. The Prime Minister underscored the fact that had it not been for the discord in the full implementation of the GPA, the inclusive government would have made a lot of achievements.

The Prime Minister informed the House that some Ministers had blatantly refused to cooperate and he singled out the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Hon. Webster Shamu. The Prime Minister informed the House that Minister Shamu was given a directive by the Cabinet and the Principals to re-constitute the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) but had not done so up to this day.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai bemoaned the slow pace regarding the implementation of the legislative agenda. He said only 7 Bills were introduced in parliament in the 3rd Session out of the 24 outlined by the President when he officially opened that session. He made assurances to the House that the executive will follow-up on all outstanding legislation in the coming year.

Adjournment of the House of Assembly

The House of Assembly adjourned to Tuesday 28 February 2012 the same date the Senate is resuming its business. However Committees of both House will resume their business on Monday 16 January 2012.

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