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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 34 - 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
September 05, 2012

Introduction

Parliament resumed its sitting yesterday, 4 September 2012, after a month-long break. The resumption was expected to be preceded by the prorogation of the current 4th Session of Parliament, paving way for the 5th and last session of the current parliament, given that the prorogation had been deferred at short notice in July 2012. Nonetheless, at its resumption of business yesterday, the House of Assembly debated two items before it adjourned to 9 October 2012, namely; a delegation report to the Fifth Ordinary Session of the Second Parliament of the Pan African Parliament presented by Hon. Editor Matamisa and the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce on the Agreement signed Between the Government of Zimbabwe and ESSAR Holdings regarding the New Zimbabwe Steel company. The Senate only sat for 16 minutes before it adjourned to 9 October 2012 without debating any item on the Order Paper.


Plenary Proceedings in the House of Assembly

Delegation Report to the Fifth Ordinary Session of the Second Parliament of the Pan African Parliament

Hon Matamisa presented a report on the Fifth Ordinary Session of the Second Parliament of the Pan African Parliament. The report emphasized on the need for African States to support fellow African countries experiencing war or any other challenges of a political nature. Hon Sibanda submitted that the report should encourage democracy and good governance and the rule of law. Debate was adjourned to the 9th of October 2012.

Debate on the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce on the Agreement signed Between the Government of Zimbabwe and ESSAR Holdings regarding the New Zimbabwe Steel Company.

Hon. William Mutomba, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce presented the Committee’s report on the Essar Agreement. Hon. Mutomba noted there seemed to be a lot of irregularities and lack of transparency in the manner the whole ESSAR deal was negotiated and endorsed by government. The Committee was concerned that the deal was heavily skewed in favour of ESSAR and thus the Committee queried why the Ministry of Industry Commerce consented to such a deal which stood to benefit Essar more than Zimbabwe. The Committee also noted that names of ministries were misrepresented in the agreement giving rise to questions of seriousness and competency on the part on the ministry of Industry and Commerce. The Committee was also worried by the fact that workers were sidelined during the negotiations for the deal and hence their current predicament.

Members who debated the report supported the committee’s observations and recommendations. Hon. Simon Hove (MDC-T Highfield West) argued that ministries should do wide consultation before entering into such agreements as it was apparent from the Essar Agreement that there was no adequate consultation. He further indicated that the Essar Agreement should be reviewed in terms of shareholding and that agreements of a similar nature ought to be brought before Parliament for scrutiny before they were signed. Hon. Hove also insinuated that the Minister of Industry and Commerce may have received a “kick-back” from the ESSAR deal.

Hon. Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T Mbizo) submitted that the Essar deal should be saved from collapse as it had the potential to alleviate poverty from the affected workers. He further argued that a commission of enquiry should be set to investigate how the agreement was executed. He also noted that it was evident that there was no inter-ministerial communication amongst the involved ministries. Hon Chikwinya questioned the exclusion of the Minister of Mines and the inclusion of the Minister of Youth Development who was not relevant to the deal.

Hon. Bednock Nyaude (MDC-T Bindura South) lamented lack of negotiating skills by the Executive which resulted in an ill-fated agreement with Essar. He argued that there was need for the review of the agreement as the Minister of Industry and Commerce had been glaringly negligent. Hon. Willias Madzimure (MDC-T Kambuzuma) echoed the same sentiments that the agreement had been “corruptly” executed and therefore called for the renegotiation of the deal.

Plenary Proceedings in the Senate

As indicated above, the Senate adjourned without debating any of the items on the Order Paper, after sitting for only 16 minutes.

Adjournment of Parliament

Parliament adjourned to 9 October 2012. The adjournment also applies to Committees. It is hoped that by then the 5th Session would have been officially opened by the President.

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