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sworn in, presiding officers elected, President to open Parliament
on 17th September - Bill Watch 44/2013
September 07, 2013
of MPs of 8th Parliament
of MPs took place on 3rd September, the date fixed by a Presidential
proclamation gazetted in Statutory Instrument [SI] 128/2013 late
on 30th August. Members of the National Assembly were sworn in the
morning. Senators took their oaths in the afternoon. The Clerk of
Parliament presided over the proceedings until members had been
sworn in and the Speaker and the President of the Senate and their
deputies had been elected and been sworn in.
Note: all references
to the Constitution are to the new Constitution
and will be in all Bill Watches from now on unless otherwise indicated.
of Presiding Officers
After the swearing-in
proceedings, legislators elected their presiding officers. MDC-T
did not put forward candidates. Zanu-PF’s nominees were therefore
Speaker: Jacob Mudenda
Deputy Speaker: Mabel Chinomona
President: Ednah Madzongwe
Deputy President: Chenhamo Chimutengwende.
Worthy of note
is the observance of gender balance in these choices.
presiding officers took the oaths of loyalty and office before the
Chief Justice, as required by the Constitution. They then addressed
members, to express what Standing Orders describe as their “sense
of the honour conferred” upon them. There were brief congratulatory
contributions from other members before the Houses adjourned until
17th September for the ceremonial opening of Parliament.
opening of Parliament: 17th September
The same Presidential
proclamation in SI 128/2013 that announced the time and date for
the swearing-in of members of Parliament, also fixed 12 noon on
Tuesday 17th September as the time and date for the first session
of the new Parliament to begin. Parliament has now confirmed that
at this ceremonial opening the President will deliver the customary
speech outlining his Government’s legislative and other intentions
before ending his speech with “I declare the first Parliamentary
of the Constitution requires the President to determine the time
and date of the first sitting of Parliament after a general election,
which has to be within 30 days after his assumption of office on
the 22nd August. From now on, however, each House will determine
when it will sit and adjourn.
in Parliament arising from the Presiding Officer elections
in the Senate
was returned as a Mashonaland West party-list Senator for Zanu-PF
in the harmonised
elections. Her election as President of the Senate automatically
caused her Senate seat to fall vacant [Constitution, section 129(1)(d)].
[See below for the procedure for filling this vacancy and the other
party-list vacancy that has already occurred.]
arising in Parliament from Speaker’s election
Mr Mudenda did
not hold a seat in either House. So his election as Speaker has
not caused a Parliamentary vacancy. But his place as chairperson
of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission [ZHRC] falls vacant because
under section 128(9) of the Constitution the Speaker cannot hold
any other public office or any other employment.
the party-list vacancies in the Senate
As already pointed
out, Mrs Madzongwe’s election as President of the Senate caused
a vacancy in the Senate party-list seats for Mashonaland West. There
was already one other vacancy, in the Senate party-list seats for
Manicaland, caused by the death on 24th August of Zanu-PF Senator
As these are
both party-list seats, the vacancies do not necessitate by-elections
involving voting by registered voters. Instead, according to section
157(1)(c) of the Constitution, any vacancy in a party-list seat
must be filled by a person belonging to the same political party,
and of the same gender, as the person who previously held the seat.
So Mrs Madzongwe’s former seat must be filled by a woman who
belongs to Zanu-PF, and Mr Kangai’s by a man who belongs to
filling vacancy - The elaborate procedure for filling such a vacancy
is laid down in section 39 of the Electoral Act. It involves several
- Mrs Madzongwe,
in her capacity as President of the Senate, must as soon as possible
notify the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] of the vacancy,
ZEC must without
- notify the
public of the vacancy by notice in the Government Gazette
- invite Zanu-PF
to submit the name of a qualified person to fill the vacancy [note:
one person, not a list].
must then lodge with ZEC a nomination paper, in the prescribed
form and countersigned by two national office-bearers of the party,
nominating a qualified person to fill the vacancy.
Chief Elections Officer must then scrutinise the nomination paper
to check whether it is in conformity with the Act.
Once the Chief
Elections Officer is satisfied the nomination paper is in order,
ZEC must without delay:
- give public
notice of the nomination by notice in the Government Gazette,
in the notice a time within which any registered voter may lodge
an objection to the nomination together with his or her reasons
for the objection.
- If no objections
are lodged or if ZEC, after considering all objections lodged,
finds that there are no valid grounds for objection, ZEC must
notify the public by notice in the Government Gazette that the
nominee has been appointed as a Senator with effect from the date
of the notice.
- If an objection
is lodged, and ZEC finds there are valid grounds for objection,
ZEC must invite Zanu-PF to submit another nomination, and the
same procedure will be followed until a qualified person is identified
to fill the vacancy.
on Standing Rules and Orders
and responsibilities of this large and important committee are stated
in section 151 of the Constitution.
- The committee is chaired by the Speaker, with the President of
the Senate as deputy chairperson, and includes the Deputy Speaker
and the Deputy President of the Senate; the Minister of Finance
and two other Ministers appointed by the President; the Leaders
of Government Business and the Leaders of the Opposition in both
Houses; the party chief whips in both Houses; the President of the
National Council of Chiefs; two backbenchers nominated by the Speaker
and the President of the Senate, respectively; and eight backbenchers
elected by members, four from each House. The committee must be
set up “as soon as possible”.
The committee supervises the administration of Parliament, formulates
Standing Orders, considers and decides all matters concerning Parliament,
and exercises other constitutional functions, such as its functions
in relation to the making of constitutional appointments by the
President, and functions assigned to it by Standing Orders or any
Orders necessary - Standing Orders regulate the proceedings in both
Houses. The new Constitution contains provisions which need to be
incorporated into or will mean changes to the existing Standing
Orders. Under section 139 of the Constitution, Standing Orders are
made by the Houses “individually or jointly on the recommendation
of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders”. New or amending
Standing Orders will be formulated by the committee, with the assistance
of Parliamentary Counsel and staff, for eventual approval by the
National Assembly and the Senate. Until this is done, the existing
Standing Orders will continue in force under paragraph 12 of the
Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.
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