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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 25 - 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
June 08, 2012


Members continued debating the motion in reply to the Presidential Speech yesterday focusing particularly on the issue of violence. The Chairman of the Media Information Communication Technology Portfolio Committee, Hon. Settlement Chikwinya presented the Committee first report on the state of the public media in the country.

Plenary proceedings in the House of Assembly

Debate on the Motion in Reply to the Presidential Speech

As noted above, Members continued with debate on the motion in reply to the Presidential Speech. MDC Members who debated the motion bemoaned impunity given to the perpetrators of violence. They said known culprits were still roaming the streets despite having been reported to the police. The police were accused of selective application of the law. MDC MPs said police often show high-handedness when dealing with MDC suspects but always turn a blind eye when ZANU PF supporters and officials were involved. They cited the recent incident in Mudzi District where an MDC official was murdered allegedly by ZANU PF supporters in the presence of the police. They queried why the implicated ZANU PF MPs; Hon. Newten Kachepa and Hon. Aquilinah Katsande have not been picked up by the police. MDC MPs further cited the plight of their supporters and officials who have been languishing in remand prison for more than a year without trial, for allegedly murdering a police detail in GlenView.

The debate also focused on the sincerity of leaders in their denunciation of violence in public fora when their supporters go on to do the very opposite. MDC MPs argued that there was no way ZANU PF supporters would go against the position of their leaders on violence if what they do was not sanctioned by the party.

On the other hand, ZANU PF MPs denied that their party condoned violence as a means of staying in power. They said people in involved in violence were doing so in their individual capacities. They also pointed out that MDC-T was not clean either on the issue of violence as they had evidence of people in their constituencies who had their homesteads burnt down by MDC-T supporters.

Members from both sides of the political divide were agreed that violence needed to the tamed as it impacted adversely on development. They urged the President and the Prime Minister to conduct joint rallies in the country to denounce violence and preach the message of peace and reconciliation.

First Report of the Media, Information, Communication and Technology Portfolio Committee on the State of Public Media

The Chairman of the Media Information Communication Technology Portfolio Committee, Hon. Settlement Chikwinya reinstated the Committee first report on the state of the public media in the country which had lapsed due to the prorogation of the 3rd Session.

In presenting the report, the Chairman said the Committee’s enquiry was motivated by the Inclusive Government’s commitment to instigate media reforms in the country as directed by the Global Political Agreement (GPA). The Committee noted that the public media in the country, both electronic and print, were grossly under-resourced and hence relied on dilapidated infrastructure which has resulted in poor service delivery. The Committee noted that the situation was worse at Bulawayo’s Montrose Studios and the Chronicle offices.

Hon. Chikwinya informed the House that at the time when the Committee conducted its enquiry, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) did not have a board in place. However, the BAZ Board has since been appointed. It was not however clear from the Chairman’s report whether or not the current BAZ Board was properly constituted as required by the law. This has been one of the outstanding contentious issues between MDC-T and ZANU PF.

The report also reveals that at the Committee’s public hearings most people spoke strongly about Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s (ZBC) biased coverage of events especially political activities of different political parties. The public raised the same concern with regards to the public print media.

On the issue of radio and television frequencies the Committee noted that there were limitations due to the current analogue system that the country is using. Thus the Committee urged government to speed up the migration process from analogue to digital system, which can accommodate more frequencies.

Stakeholders in the media fraternity were concerned with constraints they had in accessing records and information from government departments despite the fact that the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) purported to give journalists such a right.

Update on the activities of the portfolio committees

Portfolio Committee on Agriculture

The Committee received oral evidence from the Board Chairman of the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) on the status of the Chisumbanje Ethanol Project. ARDA Board Chairman Basil Nyabadza informed the Committee that the Chisumbanje Ethanol Project was consummated in 2009 on a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model, which was an ideal business deal at the time since government did not have adequate resources to do this project on its own. However, with the advent of dollarization government now wanted to renegotiate the deal so that government becomes a shareholder. He said an inter-ministerial task-force was working on the issue and a decision would be announced soon. However, the Committee was not happy with the haphazard manner the deal was conducted which has resulted in some terms of the deal being implemented in retrospect.

The Committee also heard that ARDA’s herd had been depleted to 1300 from 357 294 cattle as a result of the land reform which saw some ARDA estates surrendered to government in terms of the land reform programme.

ARDA also informed the Committee that a fleet of its 425 tractors acquired from Iran has been decimated to 118. He said some of the tractors were surrendered to government for allocation to individuals whereas the rest were auctioned due to lack of spares. The Committee was shocked to hear that some of the tractors were auctioned for as little as $30.

Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, Gender and Community Development

The Minister of Women Affairs and Community Development, Hon. Dr. Olivier Muchena appeared before the Committee to update it on the ministry’s current activities and programmes.

Hon. Dr. Muchena explained to the Committee how the ministry was implementing the community development programme. This programme is earmarked primarily to empower women across the country. She said this programme was funded from the fiscus and to date since 2010, an allocation amounting to $5 million had been committed to the ministry for this programme. However, she expressed concern with delays by treasury in releasing the money on time. For instance, she told the Committee that of the $2 million allocated for this programme in 2011; only $1 million was released by December of that year. For 2012, the programme was allocated $3 million and this money has not been released to the ministry up to now. The Minister noted that this impacted negatively on the implementation of the programme.

However, the Minister said for the few projects that have been implemented under this programme, there have been marked improvements in the lifestyles of beneficiaries. She denied the observation by the Committee that most projects so far have been implemented in her constituency. She said all the constituencies have benefited from the programme.

Regarding the current work to review the gender policy, the Minister informed the Committee that her ministry decided to suspend this until the new constitution-making process had been concluded to ensure that the gender policy is aligned to Constitution.

Legislation Update

There was no action on the 5 Bills before the House this week, namely; Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill, Electoral Amendment Bill, Older Persons Bill, National Incomes and Pricing Commission Bill and the Urban Councils Amendment Bill.

Forthcoming Events

Both Houses will be sitting next week as well as their respective committees.

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