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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 24 - 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
June 07, 2012

Introduction

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara put the record straight yesterday during the question and answer session regarding resolutions of the SADC Luanda Summit on the election roadmap in Zimbabwe. In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Hon. Paddy Zhanda (ZANU PF Goromonzi North) did not attend the sitting yesterday to move his motion on alleged shady deals by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials as anticipated.

PLENARY PROCEEDINGS IN THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

Question and Answer Session on Government Policy Issues

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara took turns to answer questions from backbenchers and the bulk of the questions revolved around the issues of violence, the election roadmap and the resolutions of the SADC Summit held in Luanda, Angola last week.

Election Roadmap

Regarding the issue of the election roadmap, Professor Arthur Mutambara noted that due to media polarization in the country, the public has been given half-truths by both the public and private media. He informed the House that SADC enjoined parties in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to come back home and finish the implementation of the outstanding reforms within an agreed time-frame. The parties will do this with the assistance of the SADC-appointed Facilitator President Jacob Zuma (South Africa).

Professor Arthur Mutambara said since the completion of the implementation of the outstanding reforms was process-driven; the date of the elections will be determined by the timelines agreed upon by the GPA parties. He went on further to discuss various scenarios pertaining to the date of the election. He said in one scenario, it was possible to hold elections before the end of the year this year if the parties cooperate and implement all the outstanding reforms within the next 5 months. He said the worst case scenario may occur if one of the parties decides to walk away from the GPA and thus collapse the agreement. Professor Arthur Mutambara said if that happens, the country will have no choice but to conduct elections without the implementation of the outstanding reforms. He said the best case scenario was to give the process adequate time and target June 2013 as the deadline for implementing all the outstanding reforms. He also warned that if the impasse in the implementation of the reforms was allowed to go on unresolved until June 2013, the country will have no choice but to hold elections as the life of the current parliament is due to expire in June next year.

Declaration of Election Date

Responding to a question whether or not any one of the GPA parties or principals had unilateral powers to dictate terms of the election roadmap, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said that was not possible. He said Amendment No. 19 of the Constitution was very clear that decisions pertaining to the provisions of the GPA had to be made by the Principals in consultation with each other. This interpretation was also underscored by the resolution of the SADC Luanda Summit which tasked the three parties in the GPA to come up with an agreed timeframe for the election roadmap with the assistance and concurrence of the SADC Facilitator.

Political Violence

On the issue of violence, Professor Arthur Mutambara informed the House that government was doing all it could to stamp out this scourge from our society. He said government expected the Organ on National Healing Integration and Reconciliation to create conditions of peace and stability in the country. He said government was also working on the re-alignment of the security sector towards democratic principles as part of the outstanding GPA reforms. He also indicated that media reforms had to be implemented as well so as to deal with the issue of media polarization which he said was fanning hatred among Zimbabweans.

Progress on the Constitution-making Process

The Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Eric Matinenga, informed the House that it was difficult to give clear-cut timelines regarding the completion of the constitution process given that the process was led by 3 parties with different political views. However he said the first Draft was circulated to the three parties represented in the GPA to solicit their comments on contentious issues. The Minister said COPAC has prepared a report capturing the views of political parties, which report would be presented to the COPAC Management Committee for consideration with a view to finalizing the few outstanding issues in the Draft Constitution. Hon. Matinenga also took the opportunity to dispel false information peddled by some individuals in the press that the COPAC Drafters were given a free reign to put their own views in the Constitution. He said the Drafters prepared the Draft on the instructions of COPAC, which instructions were based on the views expressed by the people during the outreach consultation meetings.

Minimum Qualifications for Military Cadets

The Minister of Defence, Hon. Emmerson Mnangagwa, refuted claims by one of his Generals, Martin Chedondo who was recently quoted in the press saying that the military had lowered qualifications for military cadets so as to recruit soldiers from every village in Zimbabwe. Hon. Mnangagwa said in the contrary, the army has raised the minimum qualifications for its recruitees in order to match the standards set by the newly established Military Academy College in the country. However, in order to ensure that all the provinces were given equal opportunity to serve in the military, the minimum requirements may be lowered. He said this was after a realization that most young people with the pre-requisites skills in some provinces were in the diaspora and hence the remaining youths may not have the required minimum qualifications. He said the army will use this discretion as an exception not a blanket policy.

Notice of motion on alleged shady operations of RBZ

Hon. Padddy Zhanda did not move his much anticipated motion on alleged shady deals by the RBZ as he was not in the House yesterday. It is not clear why he did not attend yesterday’s sitting but speculation abound that his party caucus held yesterday morning may have prevailed on him not to move the motion, for fear that it might expose some members of the executive.

The notice of the motion remains on the Order Paper until such a time Hon. Zhanda debates it or withdraws it from the Order Paper without debate. It remains to be seen how the issue will unfold. It would, however, be a very sad development if the motion were to be withdrawn without debate as it touches on a subject which affected a large number of people in the country.

Condolence Motion on the Death of Hon. Betty Chikava

Hon. Dorothy Mangami (ZANU PF Gokwe) introduced a condolence motion in the House to pay tribute on the works of Hon. Betty Chikava (ZANU PF Mount Darwin East) who died in Members expressed sorrow on the passing on of Hon. Chikava. They described her as a selfless and humble Member of Parliament who approached issues both in committees and plenary of the House from an objective and professional manner against the often partisan approach adopted by some Members of Parliament.

Adoption of the First Report of the Education Sport Arts and Culture Committee

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Education Sport Arts and Culture wound up debate on the Committee’s report on the tender procedures regarding the printing of schools text books under the Education Transitional Fund sponsored by multiple donors. She said that the Committee stood by its findings that tender procedures were not properly followed in the awarding of the tender to Longman. Hon. Mangami also alleged that the Minister of Education Senator David Coltart and his Permanent Secretary gave conflicting statements before the Committee and urged the ministry to put its house in order. The House adopted the report.

Prime Minister’s Question Time

The Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Eric Matinenga gave notice of motion to suspend Standing Orders to bring forward the Prime Minister’s question time session this month to 20 June as opposed to last Wednesday of the month as currently required by procedures.

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