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Roundup Bulletin No. 27 - 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
June 14, 2012
The entire sitting
for the House
of Assembly yesterday was dedicated to question and answer session,
both policy and written questions, taking advantage of the large
turn-out of Ministers in the House. The Privileges Committee wrapped
up the cross-examination of witnesses in the Gwaradzimba case of
prima facie contempt of parliament.
proceedings in the House of Assembly
is reserved for impromptu questions on policy issues, where backbenchers
quiz Ministers on policies they administer. The session yesterday
covered issues such as depressed revenue inflows, food deficit in
the country, executive interference in parliamentary activities,
traffic spot fines, vacancy freeze in government departments, water
situation in Bulawayo among other topical policy issues in the country.
Government Revenue Inflows
Minister Arthur Mutambara confirmed to the House that government
was experiencing serious revenue inflows. He was responding to a
question by Hon. David Chimhini (MDC-T Mutasa North) who wanted
to know what measures government was putting in place to improve
disbursements to government departments of money allocated to such
departments in the 2012
Budget. Professor Mutambara informed the House that a special
cabinet meeting has been scheduled for Thursday 13 June to specifically
deal with the issue of poor revenue inflows, public finance management
and the general poor state of the economy.
Deficit in the Country
informed the House that government was doing all it could to ensure
that people in areas that were affected by the drought would not
starve. He said as a short-term measure, government has introduced
a grain loan scheme whereby households without adequate food would
be able to access grain from government on credit. To this end,
government was moving grain from surplus areas to deficit areas
to fulfill the objectives of this programme. As a long-term measure,
he said government was working on a 3-year rolling agricultural
policy which will allow government to plan properly in advance,
not the current situation where government was resorting to “fire-fighting”
measures. Professor Mutambara was responding to a question posed
by Hon. Margaret Zinyemba (ZANU PF Mazowe South).
Interference in Parliament
Gwiyo (MDC-T Zengeza West) asked the Minister of Constitutional
and Parliamentary Affairs if it was proper for Executive Members
to drag parliament to court in view of the doctrine of separation
of powers. This question was an indirect reference to the Minister
of Local Government and Urban Development, Hon. Dr. Ignatius Chombo
who has filed an urgent application in the Supreme Court seeking
to bar parliament from considering a private member’s amendment
Bill on the Urban Councils
Act. In his response, Minister Eric Matinenga said every aggrieved
person had a right to approach the courts for redress. He, however,
said in view of the separation of powers doctrine, the conduct of
any arm of government in relation to the other arms of government
should be in accordance with the Constitution.
Matibe (MDC-T Chegutu West) asked the Co-Minister of Home Affairs
Hon. Kembo Mohadi to explain to the House the correct position regarding
spot fines issued to motorists by the police arising out of traffic
offences. The Minister confirmed that it was legal for the police
to demand that motorists pay spot fines unless the offenders preferred
to take the issue to court. Members were not satisfied with this
answer as they argued with the Minister that spot fines were not
compulsory since the law allowed a situation whereby the offender
could pay the fine later whether at his nearest police station or
court. Deputy Prime Minister Professor Mutambara had to intervene
and directed the Minister to go and research on the correct legal
position on the matter.
Position on Vacancy Freeze
Hon. Eliah Jembere
(MDC-T Epworth) asked the Minister of Finance Hon. Tendai Biti to
explain to the House if government had waivered its policy to freeze
vacancies in all government departments with respect to the Ministry
of Defence which recently recruited more than 4000 soldiers. Hon.
Biti said that the policy was still in place. He said government
adopted this policy after realizing that the economy was not in
a position to sustain a huge wage bill and all government departments
were advised of this policy through a circular issued by the Public
Service Commission. Despite the fact that the circular gave a leeway
to treasury to waive the vacancy freeze for critical posts, the
Ministries of Defence and Home Affairs went ahead and recruited
4600 soldiers and 1000 police officers, respectively, without seeking
approval from treasury. The Minister told the House that between
January and May this year, there has been an “illegal”
recruitment in the civil service of more than 10 000 employees.
He said this has raised the civil service wage bill to $190 million
versus monthly revenue of $230 million, something that was not sustainable
given that the targeted revenue from the diamond sector was not
forthcoming. This has necessitated government to convene a Special
Cabinet Meeting today to deal the issue.
in the Administration of Local Football
of Education, Sport Arts and Culture, Senator David Coltart informed
the House that problems bedeviling local football were mainly due
to lack of the rule of law in the sport, political interference
and questionable management competencies of the football mother
body, the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA). He was responding
to a question by Hon. Bright Matonga (ZANU PF Mhondoro-Ngezi) who
wanted the Minister to explain the poor string of results by the
national football team and the alleged harassment of players by
Moyo (MDC-T Luveve) asked the Minister of Water Resources Development
and Management Hon. Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo to explain measures government
was implementing to alleviate the dire water situation in Bulawayo,
given that the supply dams only had water to last for 2 months.
The minister said government was aware of the plight of Bulawayo
and was doing all it could to address the problem. He said his ministry
was working flat out to complete the Mtshabezi water project to
augment water supplies to the City of Bulawayo. He said the project
was expected to be completed by mid July this year.
Below is a summary
of some answers given by Ministers to written questions on key issues
of public interest.
of Approved Public Gatherings
of Home Affairs, Hon. Theresa Makone apologized to the House for
the police’s failure to protect the public from a violent
mob that disrupted public hearings at parliament on the Human
Rights Commission Bill and also a public gathering in Kwekwe
that had the US Ambassador Charles Ray as one of the key guests.
She said once clearance has been given for a public gathering, the
police should ensure that they provided adequate personnel to protect
the public. On the question regarding the current status of the
position of the Police Commissioner General, Minister Makone was
non-committal except to say that the issue was discussed between
the President and Prime Minister. Minister Makone said she and her
colleague Hon. Kembo Mohadi were not privy to the outcome of that
Companies in Chiadzwa
The Deputy Minister
of Mines and Mining Development, Hon. Gift Chimanikire denied that
there were companies in Chiadzwa involving police, central intelligence
officers and prison officers. He said there were only 5 companies
in Chiadzwa, namely; Mbada, Marange Resources, Anjin, DMC and Sino-Zimbabwe.
However, regarding the shareholding structure of Anjin, Hon. Chimanikire
revealed to the House that government owned 10%, Zimbabwe Defence
Industries (ZDI) 40% and the Chinese Company 50%.
In terms of
contribution to the fiscus, the Deputy Minister said that between
January and May this year, diamond mines in Chiadzwa remitted $29
million to government coffers.
Activities in Schools Premises
of Education, Sport Arts and Culture, Senator David Coltart said
political activities were not allowed within schools premises in
terms of the current government regulations. However, he noted that
there have been reports of increased political activities within
schools premises. He informed the House that his ministry was finalizing
new regulations to strengthen the current regulations, which will
make it punishable for anyone who conducts political activities
within schools premises.
on the activities of the portfolio committees
Committee wrapped up its cross-examination of witnesses in the Gwaradzimba
prima facie case of contempt of parliament. Mr. Arafas Gwaradzimba
was put to his defence and he denied all the press statements attributed
to him which the Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee deemed offensive.
cross-examined all the witnesses, it is now up to the committee
to consider the evidence before it and come up with its verdict.
The Committee will compile a report which will spell out its findings
and sanctions thereof. The report will be tabled in the House for
debate and adoption or otherwise.
of the House on privilege issues is final and not contestable in
any court of law.
of Home Affairs, Hon. Theresa Makone is set to move a motion for
the ratification of the Human Trafficking Convention today in the
House of Assembly.
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