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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 16 - 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
May 16, 2012

Introduction

The House of Assembly and the Senate resumed their sittings yesterday after a one and half month long recess. The House of Assembly debated the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Youth, Gender and Community Development regarding the state of Vocational Training Centres (VTCs). The Senate briefly debated two items before it adjourned after sitting for only 23 minutes. The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Lovemore Moyo informed the House that debate on the private member’s Bill on the Urban Councils Amendment Bill was suspended pending the Supreme Court application by the Minister of Local Government and Urban Development, Hon. Ignatius Chombo.

Suspension of Debate on the Urban Councils Amendment Bill.

The Urban Councils Amendment Bill was slated for its second reading stage debate yesterday when the House of Assembly resumed its sitting. However, the Speaker informed the House that debate on the Bill could not go ahead until the Supreme Court had given its ruling on the application by the Minister of Local Government and Urban Development, Hon. Ignatius Chombo, which seeks to bar parliament from debating and passing the bill.

In his application to the Supreme Court, Hon. Ignatius Chombo is arguing that Section 20.1.2(c) of Schedule 8 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which is an extension of Article 10 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), takes away the previous constitutional right that allowed backbenchers to introduce private members’ Bills in Parliament.

Parliament has already filed a notice of opposition to the Minister’s application.

Debate on the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Youth, Gender and Community Development

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Youth, Gender and Community Development, Hon. Margaret Matienga presented its First Report in the House yesterday on the state of Vocational Training Centres (VTCs). The Committee visited 14 such VTCs throughout the country; the main objective being the need to establish the state of affairs at these VTCs and appreciate the challenges and constraints they could be facing and make policy recommendations to government. The Committee informed the House that the primary purpose of VTCs was skills development, especially for the school leavers who could not be absorbed in the mainstream education system. The rationale behind the policy was to empower these youths by equipping them with life skills which they could use to earn a decent living.

In its findings, the Committee noted that most of the VCTs it visited were in a dilapidated state due to lack of funding or under-funding by Treasury. The Committee condemned the VCTs as unfit for human habitation and called for urgent attention by government to rescue the situation.

The Committee also noted that these VCTs were manned by under-qualified personnel and most of the principals of these VCTs were in an acting capacity.

The Committee also condemned the syllabus of the VCTs and hence recommended that the syllabus and curriculum should be handed over to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education for standardization.

The Committee also established that some of the VCTs were used for political purposes during election campaign periods.

The Report was extensively debated by the House and members across the political divide called for the depoliticization of the VTCs so that the policy objective of establishing these VCTs could be met. It was interesting to hear Members across the political divide acknowledging that they often abuse and manipulate the youths during election campaign periods only to abandon them thereafter. Hence, Members called for an overhaul of the programme and realign it to the original policy objectives of the programme. They also urged the Minister of Finance to provide adequate financial resources to improve the infrastructure at the VCTs.

Plenary Proceedings in the Senate

The Senate briefly debated on two motions; the First Report of the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS on the Anti-Retroviral Therapy Roll-Out Programme and the motion on the perennial drought in ecological Region IV.

Both Houses are sitting this afternoon. Priority of business in the House of Assembly today is private members’ business; question and answer session and backbenchers private motions.

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