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lame end to the seventh Parliament - Bill Watch 27/2013
July 03, 2013
Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe Sat for the Last Time on Thursday
was officially dissolved on midnight of 28th June, five years from
the day President Mugabe was sworn in as President in June 2008.
There did not have to be a Presidential proclamation dissolving
Parliament because it had sat for its full 5-year term and was therefore
automatically dissolved in terms of section 63(4) of the former
Constitution [“Parliament ... shall last for five years, which
period shall be deemed to commence on the day the person elected
as President enters office ... and shall then stand dissolved.”]
The last sittings
of both the House of Assembly and the Senate took place on Thursday
27th June. The House sat for an hour, the Senate for 15 minutes.
It was a disappointing end to a Parliament that during its 5 years
had not done much. The country had been hoping to see MPs enacting
a raft of democratic reforms – changes to POSA,
AIPPA, and so on
– before Parliament dissolved.
was highlighted in the wrap-up remarks of the the Minister of Constitutional
and Parliamentary Affairs: “It was the vain anticipation of
some of us that maybe the Constitutional Court would be able to
sit and determine the various constitutional applications which
were placed before it before this Seventh Parliament’s life
comes to an end, but that has not been possible. Those constitutional
applications which would have been relevant to a further sitting
of this House are only going to be before the court, I am told,
next week Thursday, 4th of July, 2013.
in the House of Assembly
Death of Hon
Chindori-Chininga - Moving tributes were paid to the late Edward
Chindori-Chininga who died in a vehicle accident on 21st June. Contributors
from all sides spoke of his exceptional qualities, and the significance
of his work as the chairperson of the Portfolio
Committee on Mines and Energy. Before passing a motion expressing
sympathy for the Chindori-Chininga family, all present joined in
singing Mariya naMarita.
In his wrap-up
remarks the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs
expressed disappointment [see below] and thanked “the members
who have contributed to making this Parliament possible and I wish
that a number of them would be able to come back in the next Parliament.
For a number of us, today would be our ‘last supper’.
[Mr Matinenga has already announced his coming departure from politics
and return to full-time legal practice.] May I then move for the
adjournment of the House.”
The last entry
in the journal of the House reads: “The House adjourned at
a quarter past three o’clock pm”.
in the Senate
the Senate Ednah Madzongwe began the afternoon’s proceedings
by announcing that there was no business, wishing Senators well
in their future endeavours and exhorting them ”to always put
Zimbabwe first before anything else”. Senator Chief Charumbira
and other Senators paid tribute to Mrs Madzongwe’s firm leadership
of the Senate. The Senate then adjourned for the last time after
sitting for 15 minutes.
on Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th June
Bills - On Tuesday
the House passed both the Electricity Amendment Bill and the Income
Tax Bill, the latter with substantial amendments proposed by the
Minister of Finance. Both Bills were immediately transmitted to
the Senate. There were no other Bills on the Order Paper.
on Wednesday took up the House’s entire 88-minute sitting.
The Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, the Minister
of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and the Minister of Home Affairs
were present to answer questions. Topics on which Ministers responded
meetings following SADC Summit
- Minister Matinenga gave an admirably clear account of the previous
week’s unproductive engagement, or lack of engagement, between
the GPA parties following the SADC Summit in Maputo on Saturday
- on Tuesday
18th June the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs filed a Constitutional
Court application asking for a two-week extension of the election
date. The application, said Minister Matinenga, was filed “unbeknown
to the other members of the Inclusive
- on Wednesday
19th June there was a meeting at State House “where the
three parties in the Inclusive Government met in order to agree
on a common position with regard to the disputed election date.
Aligned to this were also attempts to seek agreement on what should
be done with regard to both SIs 85 and 86 of 2013 and subsequent
statutory instruments”. The meeting did not come to an agreement.
Presentations were made by Minister Biti for MDC-T and Minister
Coltart for MDC. Minister Chinamasa, for ZANU-PF, said he wanted
until Friday to respond and this was granted, although “a
lot of us were of the view that the issue was an urgent one, and
that the Minister could have responded if he wanted to, but he
did not”. But it was agreed that a smaller committee might
possibly meet to agree on an affidavit for a joint court application.
Accordingly, Ministers Chinamasa, Ncube and Biti stayed behind
for that purpose but failed to reach agreement..
- on Friday
21st June Minister Matinenga arrived at State House at 10 am for
the follow-up meeting. At 10.30 am those present were told the
President was not available and they should return at 12.05 pm.
Minister Matinenga did so, and was joined by the MDC representatives.
They waited until 1 pm without anyone from ZANU-PF, let alone
the President, showing up. “On realising that nobody was
going to attend on behalf of ZANU-PF, we then went back to our
summing-up of the situation as of the afternoon of 26th June, therefore,
was: “What we have experienced in the past week or so points
to an election which is not going to produce results which are not
disputed” – as opposed to “not just elections
for the sake of it, but elections which are free and fair, elections
which are not disputed and elections in which every citizen of this
country is able to vote and has been registered.”
for Parliamentarians - Minister Matinenga assured MPs concerned
about their outstanding allowances that the imminent dissolution
of Parliament would not extinguish their legal right to payment.
Display of force
numbers on ZRP uniforms - Minister Makone explained that although
all uniformed police should display their force numbers visibly
on all police uniforms, financial constraints had made full compliance
of short-wave radios - In the course of an at times confusing series
of exchanges with MPs, Minister Makone conceded that it was wrong
for police to confiscate radio receivers and that confiscation should
not be carried out as a form of censorship of broadcasts from certain
outside broadcasters. She said two-way radios incorporating transmitters
are illegal, and that confiscation of illegally imported radios
on information from the customs authorities was in order.
in ZANU-PF primary elections - Minister Makone said that while police
could be present at party primary elections to maintain order, if
they had been used to carry ballot boxes, count people or to verify
anything on behalf of parties, that was an illegal activity, and
no-one could be blamed for thinking it a misdirection of state resources.
and the elections - Minister Mzembi assured the House that UNWTO
had recently judged “our state of preparedness to be satisfactory
and our level of collaboration with the Zambians to be excellent”.
On the probable
proximity of the elections to the conference, he expressed optimism
that a peaceful and stable election would be a “branding opportunity
for the country and the global endorsement of destination Zimbabwe”.
Bills - On Wednesday
the Senate dealt rapidly with both the Electricity Amendment Bill
and the Income Tax Bill as passed by the House of Assembly on Tuesday.
Second Reading speeches for both Bills were delivered by the Minister
of Energy and Power Development. Having got his own Bill through
all stages in a few minutes, the Minister stood in for the Minister
of Finance and managed to sum up the voluminous Income Tax Bill
in four short paragraphs. Senators had no contributions to make
or questions to ask on either Bill, and passed both without amendments.
The Senate adjourned after sitting for only 28 minutes.
Motions - During
Tuesday’s 12-minute sitting the Senate adopted without further
discussion the motions to take note of reports of delegations to
ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly sessions held in 2011. [Correction:
We incorrectly said in Bill
Watch 26/2013 of 25th June that the sitting ran for only 5 minutes.]
Business Left Unfinished
The House left
behind a large amount of uncompleted business. 18 motions at various
stages of debate did not receive further attention; 13 “deferred”
questions were also abandoned.
- The 13 questions, for reply by Ministers, had been on the Order
Paper and been unanswered by the Ministers concerned, some since
February and others since 22nd May. Among the May questions were
one for the Minister of State for Security about the Ministry’s
policy on CIO officers who are openly politically partisan and hold
provincial and Central Committee positions in ZANU-PF, and one for
the Minister of Mines and Energy seeking details about the value
of the Government’s financial stake in diamond mining operations
in the Marange
diamond fields. There have been many complaints from MPs during
this Parliament about Ministers failing to attend Question Time
and answer questions addressed to them, as well as instances of
Ministers refusing to attend Parliamentary committee hearings. The
Prime Minister has on several occasions promised MPs he will bring
errant Ministers into line, apparently without any really lasting
prevent this situation in the next Parliament an amendment to Standing
Orders could be made providing for flagrant cases of Ministerial
defiance to be treated as contempt of Parliament, and Ministers
found guilty to be punished accordingly.
PLC reports not considered
rose for the last time without discussing the adverse reports on
statutory instruments that had been awaiting their attention since
the beginning of June. This means that the adverse reports [available
cannot now result in the President being obliged to repeal or amend
the three statutory instruments concerned, as he might have had
to if the Senate had passed motions approving the reports. But interested
parties are not without remedies. Those who believe, as the PLC
did, that the SIs are legally unsound, can still seek declarations
of nullity from the High Court. [Reminder: The SIs are: the Youth
Council regulations [SI 4/2013]; the tariff of mining fees [SI 29/2013];
and the Mangwe sand extraction by-laws [SI 25/2013].]
no PLC report on the Presidential Powers Regulations amending the
The PLC had
time to table a special report in the Senate on the controversial
SI 85/2013 which was gazetted on 12th June. Regrettably, no such
report was tabled. Perhaps the members, or some of them, thought
the SI “too hot to handle”, given that its questionable
validity was the subject of discussion at the SADC Summit on 16th
June and seemed destined to be taken to the Constitutional Court.
Or perhaps they saw no point in reporting to a Senate scheduled
for dissolution two weeks later, particularly when the Standing
Orders deadline for reporting would be the end of July.
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