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Roundup Bulletin No. 11 - 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
March 22, 2012
21 March 2012, backbenchers in the House
of Assembly quizzed Ministers on various policy issues under
their purview during question and answer session. However, only
a few Ministers were in the House during the question and answer
session. The House also debated extensively a motion by Hon. Innocent
Gonese (MDC-T Chief Whip) seeking the leave of the House to introduce
a Bill to amend Section 121(3) of the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act. On the other hand, the Senate debated
a motion by Senator Tambudzani Mohadi (ZANU PF BeitBridge) on the
need for government to increase food relief efforts in the most
Proceedings in the House of Assembly
and Answer Session:
As noted above, most
of the Ministers were conspicuous by their absence in the House
during the question and answer session yesterday. Hence the bulk
of the questions went to the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary
Affairs, Hon. Eric Matinenga, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining
Development, Hon. Gift Chimanikire, the Minister of Labour and Social
Welfare Hon. Paurina Mpariwa and the Minister of Youth Development,
Indigenization and Empowerment Hon. Saviour Kasukuwere.
Hon. Cairo Mhandu (ZANU
PF Mazowe North) asked the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary
Affairs to explain the policy regarding the Members’ sitting
allowances. Hon. Matinenga explained to the House procedures regarding
the pegging of Members’ sitting allowances; that this was
a responsibility of the Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC),
which then makes recommendations to the President for approval in
terms of the Parliamentary Salaries Allowances and Benefits Act.
He said the SROC recommended a sitting allowance of $75 per sitting
which the President approved. However, Members were not being paid
regularly due to late release of funds by Treasury because of the
tight fiscal space. However, the Minister assured Members that they
would be paid their sitting allowances as soon the funds were made
available by treasury.
On how much each Member
was owed, the Minister said this was a function of the administration
of parliament and therefore referred Members to the Clerk of Parliament.
by the Attorney General on the CDF Audits
Hon. Fred Kanzama (ZANU
PF Mutare South) asked the Minister Matinenga to brief the House
whether or not his ministry had implemented a directive by Attorney
General Johannes Tomana to suspend prosecutions of MPs who had abused
the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) until the ministry had audited
all the constituencies. In response, Hon. Matinenga informed the
House that the justice system in Zimbabwe was underpinned by various
players with distinct constitutional mandates and functions. He
said the role of his ministry was to oversee and account for the
public funds allocated to the ministry as required by the Public
Finance Management Act. If in the process of carrying out this mandate,
the ministry suspected misuse of public funds it was obliged to
report the issue to the police or any other government body mandated
to make investigations like the Anti-Corruption Commission. He said
that was exactly what his ministry did regarding the CDF anomalies.
He said it was the constitutional duty of the police and the Anti-Corruption
Commission to investigate the CDF anomalies that his ministry noted
its audits. And once the police and the Anti-Corruption Commission
had concluded their investigations and were satisfied that there
was a prima facie case, they would refer the cases to the Attorney
General’s Office for prosecution. Minister Matinenga said
in terms of the law, the only body with prosecuting powers in the
country was the Attorney General’s Office. However, he noted
that the Attorney General’s office did not have powers to
direct the police to stop investigating cases and worse still the
Anti-Corruption Commission, which is an independent body.
Auditing of CDF Projects
In response to Hon. Kanzama’s
supplementary question why there was dual auditing of CDF projects
by the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs and
the Audit Office, Hon. Matinenga said that was the correct procedure.
He said his ministry had a duty to carry out its own internal audits
whereas the Audit Office was mandated to audit all public funds
in the country and thus provided an independent audit as it were.
Development by Diamond Mining Companies
The Deputy Minister
of Mines and Mining Development, Hon. Chimanikire informed the House
that principles of social corporate responsibility obliged not only
diamond mining companies to plough back to the local communities
where they were mining. He said this in response to a question by
Hon. Shuah Mudiwa (MDC-T Mutare West) who wanted to know what diamond
mining companies in Marange were expected to do in terms of
infrastructural development. Hon. Chimanikire informed the House
that the current policy framework was not legally binding. However,
his ministry was working on amendments to the Mines and Minerals
Act to create a legal obligation for all mining companies in the
country to contribute to the development of local communities.
and Duplication of Mining Claims
Hon. Chimanikire said
over-pegging and duplication of mining claims was mainly due to
the fact that his ministry was still using a manual map system.
He said most of the maps were now worn-out and therefore unreadable.
However, he informed the house that his ministry was in the process
of the uploading all the maps into a computer system and this way
the ministry would be able to deal with issues of over-pegging and
duplication of licences. He was responding to a question by Hon.
Margaret Zinyemba (ZANU PF Mazowe South).
of Mining Agreements
Hon. Willias Madzimure
(MDC-T Kambuzuma) asked the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining
Development if government could consider cancelling agreements it
hastily entered into with various mining companies thereby prejudicing
the State of more revenue. The Deputy Minister said his ministry
alone could not make such a decision since the decision to award
contracts to mining companies was a collective decision of the Cabinet.
Activities Take Precedence over Agriculture
Hon. Zachariah Ziyambi
(ZANU PF Chakari) asked the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining
Development why government did not protect farmers from mining activities
since they encroach onto their farms. Hon. Chimanikire said the
current mining law placed more priority over farming activities.
Increase in Mining Fees
The Deputy Minister of
Mines and Mining Development said the recent increase in mining
administration fees and levies were necessitated by the need to
open ground for exploration by compelling companies to release ground
held for speculative purposes.
Release of BEAM Funds
Hon. Evelyn Masaiti (MDC-T
Dzivarasekwa) asked the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare what
measures government had taken to ensure that vulnerable children
under the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) were not expelled
from school due to late payment of school fees as a result of late
release of BEAM funds by Treasury. Minister Mpariwa said her ministry
had instructed all school authorities not to expel children under
BEAM for late payment of school fees as this was not a problem of
their own making but government.
of NGOs and Civic Society Organizations
Hon. Felix Sibanda
(MDC-T Magwegwe) asked the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare
on the status of NGOs and CSOs given reports that the Governor and
Resident Minister of Masvingo Province had banned
all NGOs operating in the province. Minister Mpariwa restated what
she told parliament last week when she gave a ministerial statement
on the same issue. She again informed the House that it was her
and her ministry alone who had the authority to register, de-register
ban or regulate the operations of NGOs and CSOs since the administration
of the Private Voluntary Organizations Act fell under her ambit.
She said since the formation of the inclusive government no NGO
or CSO had been banned or deregistered. She further informed Members
that it would be folly of government to ban or deregister NGOs given
the unfolding humanitarian situation in most parts of country as
a result of the drought.
of Community Share Trusts
Hon. Shepherd Mushonga
(MDC-T Mazowe Central) asked the Minister of Youth Indigenization
and Empowerment the community share trusts were administered in
the absence of legislation or regulations. In response, the Minister
said that his ministry had come up with regulations to guide the
process. He further said that the objective of community share trusts
was to achieve a broad-based empowerment goal.
on the Motion to Introduce a Bill to Amend Section 121(3) of the
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act
Gonese introduced a motion in the House yesterday seeking leave
of the House to introduce a private member’s Bill to amend
Section 121(3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. Predictably,
the debate took a very partisan route with MDC Members in support
of the motion whereas ZANU PF Members vigorously opposed the motion.
In its caucus meeting last week, ZANU PF resolved to oppose private
member’s Bills as the party argued that Amendment No. 19 of
the Constitution took away the right of backbenchers to introduce
private members’ Bills in parliament.
Be that as it may, Hon. Gonese argued that the aforementioned Section
121 had been often abused by the Attorney General’s office
as they always invoke it to deny accused persons bail when the presiding
officer would have seen it fit to grant such bail. He said in most
cases the invocation of this section appeared to be motivated by
malice more than anything, as the accused is further detained for
7 days before he was brought to court. He said in a proper democracy,
prosecutors should not be granted powers to overturn decisions of
magistrates and judges to grant accused persons bail.
MDC Members who debated
the motion argued that apart from being draconian, this piece of
legislation was a colonial relic which was used by the Smith regime
to detain freedom fighters without bail. They also argued that the
legislation deprived suspects the benefit of the doubt as the law
tended to treat the accused persons as guilty before they have actually
been proven guilty. MDC Members also bemoaned the fact that when
a person was later found innocent he or she was not compensated
the time he/she would have spent in remand.
ZANU PF Members were
clearly opposed to the motion as they argued that there would be
anarchy in the country if the accused was granted bail. Their reasoning
was that if granted bail, there were high chances that accused persons
would interfere with the witnesses or flee the country.
Debate is set to continue
this afternoon. MDC has the numbers to pass the motion and the Bill.
However, the Bill may meet a different fate in the Senate.
of the Condolence Motion on the Death of Professor Mukonoweshuro
Hon. Festus Dumbu (MDC-T
Zaka West) wound up his condolence motion on the death of Hon. Professor
Proceedings in the Senate
Debate on the Motion
Calling upon Government to Increase Food Relief Efforts in the Most
Senator Tambudzani Mohadi
(ZANU PF BeitBridge) introduced a motion in the Senate urging government
to increase food relief efforts in the most affected regions in
the country. She noted that most areas in the country found in ecological
region 5; that is, semi-arid regions were facing starvation due
to drought. She said the plight of communities in region 5 was compounded
by the phenomenon of climate change as this has worsened the situation.
Senator Mohadi called for government to come up with urgent policy
measures to arrest the situation from further deteriorating. She
called on the Ministry of Finance to set aside a special grant to
buy relief food for the affected communities. She also appealed
to government to prioritize the rehabilitation of dams and irrigation
schemes in the affected areas so that those communities could produce
their own food.
The motion was unanimously
supported by Senators across the political divide.
Legal Committee (PLC) presented a non-adverse report on the Urban
Councils Amendment Bill (H.B.5, 2011). This puts paid to the
argument by the Minister of Local Government and Urban Development,
Hon. Dr. Ignatius Chombo, who attempted to block debate on the Bill
as he alleged that the introduction of private members’ Bills
was ultra vires provisions of Amendment
No.19 of the Constitution.
The Bill is now set for its second reading stage.
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