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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 01- 8th Parliament - 2013
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
September 18, 2013

Introduction

President Robert Mugabe officially opened the First Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe yesterday. In his speech, he outlined what looked like a busy legislative agenda of the 1st Session as he mentioned no less than 20 Bills to be brought before Parliament. MDC-T MPs boycotted the event.

Legislative agenda for Parliament

In his speech marking the official opening of the 1st Session of the 8th Parliament, President Robert Mugabe outlined a busy legislative agenda for Parliament. He said the main task of the 1st Session of the 8th Parliament was aligning existing legislation to the provisions of the new Constitution. In terms of some of the actual Bills expected to be introduced in Parliament during the life of the 1st Session are;

  • Land Commission Bill
  • Banking Act Amending Bill
  • Amendments to Insurance Act, Pension Act, Insurance and Pension Commission Amendment Act,
  • Consumer Protection Bill
  • Zimbabwe Quality Standards Regulatory Authority Bill
  • Public Private Partnership Bill
  • Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill
  • Mines and Minerals Bill
  • Border Posts Authority Bill
  • Bill to facilitate takeover of collection of toll fees from ZIMRA by ZINARA
  • Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill
  • Labour Laws Harmonization Bill
  • Occupational Health and Safety Bill
  • Health Services Amendment Bill
  • Medical Services Amendment Bill
  • Public Health Amendment Bill
  • Gwanda State University Bill
  • Marondera University of Agricultural Science and Technology Bill
  • Constituency Development Fund Bill
  • Bill to domesticate the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons

In addition, the President said the 1st Session was also expected to deal with outstanding legislative business of the Seventh Parliament.

Executive Agenda

The President also outlined key policy programmes and projects that the Executive branch of government would prioritize during the life of the 8th Parliament. He said government would implement strategies to mitigate hardships caused by perennial drought conditions in the country such as provision of irrigation programmes and agricultural inputs to farmers. He noted that such strategies would assist to ensure self-sufficiency and thus help to stop over-dependence on food imports and hand-outs from donors.

President Mugabe noted that the economy was facing numerous challenges characterized by declining production levels, high production costs, company closures and high unemployment level. The government will therefore prioritize sustained economic recovery and growth and in particular the implementation of pro-poor economic policies. The President informed the House that the mining sector was going to play a greater role in the industrial development process. Hence, the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill will be one of the Bills on Parliament’s top priority list during this session.

The President also revealed to the MPs that some of the major infrastructural development projects would be done within the framework of the Public Private Partnership arrangements. In this regard, a Public Private Partnership Bill was expected to be passed during the 1st Session.

Regarding service delivery challenges faced by many local authorities in the country, President Mugabe said government would play its role and assist these local authorities to revive their infrastructures. He noted that US144 million loan facility had already been sourced from China and disbursed to the City of Harare for water and sanitation infrastructure. He said similar facilities would be sourced for Bulawayo and other cities.

President Mugabe also noted that there was an urgent need to revamp the parastatals considering that they had the potential to contribute 40% to the country’s Gross domestic Product. Part of the measures to address this problem, would be the introduction of performance contracts for all heads of parastatals and the adoption of Results-Based Management approaches in order to engender accountability and efficient service delivery.

The President also acknowledged the plight of civil servants and said government would review their salaries and also consider non-monetary benefits in order to improve their situation.

President Mugabe received a nod of approval from MPs on measures to combat the scourge of corruption in the country. He said his government would adopt zero-tolerance on corruption. In this regard, an independent National Prosecuting Authority will be established soon in line with the provisions of the new Constitution. The Anti-Corruption Commission will be strengthened. Anti-Corruption Commissioners will be required to declare their personal assets before they assumed office. In a related matter, the President said government would be introducing Constituency Development Fund (CDF) legislation to prevent abuse of public funds by MPs as happened in the previous Parliament.

Regarding foreign policy, the President said his government was ready to work with any foreign government even those that were at odds with Zimbabwe. However, he demanded the “immediate and unconditional removal of the illegal sanctions by some Western countries”, whom he described as “arrogant”. Notably, this time he did not mention any one of those countries by name.

He concluded his speech by calling for unity in the country despite people’s political and social diversities.

Adjournment of Parliament

As per tradition, parliament immediately adjourned after the President’s speech in order to allow MPs adequate time to digest the speech in preparation of debate in Parliament’s next sitting. Thus, Parliament adjourned to Tuesday 24 September 2013.

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