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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 7– 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
March 14, 2012

Introduction

The Prime Minister, Hon. Morgan Tsvangirai presented a monthly progress report on government programmes and activities to Parliament yesterday. Members also debated the motion on reply to the presidential speech. The Senate only set for 13 minutes yesterday before it adjourned immediately after the prayer and announcements.

Plenary Proceedings in the House of Assembly

Monthly Progress Report by Prime Minister

In his inaugural progress report to parliament yesterday, the Prime Minister informed the House of Assembly that it was his duty as Leader of Government Business in Parliament to update the nation on government programmes through their elected representatives. He said this was done in the spirit of openness, transparency and accountability so that the nation was kept abreast of the challenges affecting the country. Thus, the Prime Minister pledged to make monthly reports to parliament and warned that in his next reports he would “name and shame” under performing Ministers and their ministries.

He appreciated the good work the portfolio committees were doing to hold the executive to account. He noted that some Ministers were refusing to appear before committees when requested to do so and that some Ministers were absconding question and answer sessions in parliament. The Prime Minister made an undertaking to ensure that Ministers attended parliamentary sittings as well as appearing before relevant portfolio committees when requested to do so.

The Prime Minister said the evaluation of the performance of Ministers will be based on the Government Work Programme (GWP) recently adopted by government, which he tabled before parliament yesterday.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai noted that his monthly progress reports in parliament, coupled with the Prime Minister’s Question Time, will enhance the oversight role of the institution of parliament. Hon. Tsvangirai identified the national census and the current constitution-making process as the two major activities that government was paying much of its attention to. He informed the House that Global Political Agreement (GPA) Principals had taken a keen interest in the constitution-making process so that the process was expedited to ensure that all the necessary structures had been put in place ahead of the forth-coming elections.

The House was also informed that government was keen on improving and normalizing relations with countries in the region and the international community in general. The Prime Minister told the House that the Re-engagement Committee had begun its dialogue with the European Union (EU).

On the scourge of corruption in the country, the Prime Minister urged all relevant government agencies to ensure that “justice [was] done and any corrupt person [was] arrested”. He said as an independent body, the Anti-Corruption Commission should not be threatened or hindered from doing its work professionally; to expose corruption and ensure that justice was done without favour or bias. In this regard, he also urged parliament to come up with a mechanism that will enable it to hold its own Members to account.

The Prime Minister outlined the following as priorities that government was currently paying its attention to; abuse of citizens by the police and the mush-rooming of roadblocks across the country, ethanol fuel project, challenges faced by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Air Zimbabwe Challenges and Voter Registration process. On the issue regarding police roadblocks and cases of bribery, the Prime Minister informed the House that Cabinet tasked the co-Ministers of Home Affairs to investigate the issue and report back to Cabinet so that a decision would be taken on the matter.

The Prime Minister also bemoaned the slow pace in implementing political, electoral and media reforms that were agreed to in the GPA. He said the “non-implementation has largely been due to insincerity, downright arrogance and a lack of appreciation of the mission of this transitional government and its general mandate”.

Debate on the Presidential Speech

Debating on the motion in reply to the Speech the President delivered in parliament when he officially opened the 4th session of Parliament, Hon. Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (ZANU PF Mwenezi East), noted with concern that the $40 million fund (Distressed and Marginalized Fund [DiMAF]) earmarked for the resuscitation of industries in Bulawayo had still not been released by government. Hon. Bhasikiti also lamented the slow pace of the constitution-making process.

Hon. Pishai Muchauraya noted that most of the priorities mentioned in the President’s Speech had not been achieved, thus making the debate on the Speech a mere talk-show. He cited the issue of ghost workers’ the plight of civil servants, challenges facing Air Zimbabwe, lack of transparency in Chiadzwa diamond mining and access to Anti-Retro Viral (ARV) drugs by people suffering from HIV and AIDS.

Plenary Proceedings in the Senate

The Senate only set for 13 minutes yesterday before it adjourned immediately after the prayer and announcements. There were only two items on the Order Paper for debate and no Senator was interested to debate those two items and as a result the House had to adjourn because of the apparent lack of any other business to transact. The President of the Senate, Hon. Edna Madzongwe, had to remind Senators that they should not wait for the executive to give them business but to create their own business through the introduction of motions.

Parliament Sitting

Both Houses are sitting this afternoon. The priority today in the House of Assembly is private members’ business, question time and motions by backbenchers.

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