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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 04 - 8th Parliament - 2013
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
October 11, 2013


Only the Senate was sitting this week as the National Assembly was on a week-long break until 15 October 2014. Senators continued with the debate on the motion in reply to the President’s speech and also debated a motion advocating the need to align existing laws to the new Constitution.

Debate on the Presidential speech

Senator Judith Mawire (Zanu-PF Manicaland) applauded the President for giving greater attention to agriculture in his speech. She reiterated the need to fully fund the sector and also deal with the provision of irrigation facilities in order to fight the erratic rainfall patterns. This point was shared by other Senators who contributed on the debate. Furthermore, Senator Mawire urged government to expedite the implementation of the indigenization policy and to prioritize the revival of closed industries in the country and in particular the Mutare Board and Paper Mills in Manicaland Province. Senator Nyamayabo Mashavakure, one of the Senators representing the disabled people in Parliament, underscored the need to engage disabled people in all government policies and programmes such as the Indigenization and Empowerment Programme. He also took a swipe at organizations that purport to represent interests of disabled people when in actual fact they were just lining their own pockets. Senator Mashavakure also commended the new Constitution for recognizing the peculiar needs and interests of disabled people.

Senator Alma Mkhwebu (Zanu-PF Matabeleland South Province) spoke strongly against corruption and urged government to introduce stiff and deterrent measures to deal with this social scourge. Senator Mkhwebu and Senator Mawire urged government to abolish the policy on spot fines charged by the Police for traffic offenses. They said this policy was a fertile ground for corruption. They advocated that fines for traffic offences should be paid at police stations within a specified time frame. They argued that this would reduce cases of bribery at police roadblocks.

Chief Dandawa (Mashonaland West Province) appealed to government to include Senators and Chiefs in its disbursement of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). He said Senators were mature and trustworthy to use the funds for the benefit of their communities unlike some of their counterparts in the National Assembly who abused the Fund during the 7th Parliament. Senators were excluded from the CDF Programme in the previous Parliament.

Alignment of existing laws to the new Constitution

Senator Misheck Marava (MDC-T Masvingo Province) and Senator James Makore (MDC-T Harare Metropolitan Province) introduced a motion in the Senate on Tuesday urging the Executive to expedite the alignment of existing laws to the new Constitution.

The Deputy Minister of Justice, legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Fortune Chasi, assured the Senate that his ministry was working flat out to re-align all existing laws to the Constitution. He said this was a cumbersome process given the technical nature of legal drafting. He also informed the Senate that the Legal Drafting Department was understaffed. Nonetheless, he said his ministry was treating this matter as an extremely urgent one and amendment Bills for all the laws that needed to be re-aligned to the new Constitution would be brought before Parliament in due course. Following Deputy Minister Chasi’s undertaking, Senator Marava deferred further debate on his motion to 20th November 2013.

Question and Answer session

Carnage on the Roads
Senator Misheck Marava (MDC-T Masvingo Province) asked the Leader of the House, Hon. Mnangagwa, in the absence of the relevant Minister, to clarify to the House if government had relaxed the policy regarding public transport to allow small vehicles, e.g. Ipsums and Noahs to pirate on highways between major cities. Senator Marava attributed the increase on road carnage to these small vehicles pirating on the major roads. The Leader of the House said government was extremely concerned with accidents on the highways and was doing everything possible to reduce these accidents. He said government was in the process of expanding major highways given the increase in the volume of traffic in this country. He said this programme has been largely hampered by “sanctions”.

Recognition of Chiefs in the judiciary system
Senator Chief Chitsunge (Mashonaland Central Province) asked the Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs if the new Constitution recognizes chiefs as part of the judiciary so as to safeguard the integrity of their courts considering that in previous years people undermined the courts. Minister Mnangagwa said no changes had been made and chiefs have always been part of the dispensation of the Justice system in the country and they would continue to do so. He further informed the House that his ministry was reviewing the extent of the jurisdiction of chiefs with a view to expanding their responsibilities in some areas of their competence.

Construction of modern courts for Chiefs
Hon. Musaka (Mashonaland West Province) also asked the Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs if the ministry could consider providing infrastructure at chiefs courts so that individuals on trial can feel comfortable and feel fairness and justice was being delivered. Hon Mnangangwa said that it was a good idea but it was problematic to implement especially in Mashonaland where chieftaincy did not reside in one household but rotated among brothers. However, he said his ministry would consult the Chief’s Council and come up with a way forward.

Induction of Chiefs on the interpretation of the law
Senator Damien Mumvuri (Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central) asked a question to the Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on whether the ministry could introduce induction courses for chiefs so that they had common understanding of the laws of the country and interpreted the law uniformly, as previous judgements by some Chiefs displayed ignorance of the law and some were ultra-vires the Constitution. The Minister said a workshop to sensitize chiefs changes brought in by the new Constitution was in the offing.

Decentralization of passport offices
Senator Siansali (Matabeleland North Province) asked the Deputy Minister of Home affairs if the ministry had any plans of decentralising passport offices to provinces if not districts so that people can be afforded those documents without hassles. The Deputy Minister, Hon. Ziyambi said his ministry was planning to station its offices at major hospitals for birth certificates. Regarding passport, he said the major hindrance was the paper used to print passports. He said the paper was imported and because of “sanctions” it has not been possible to decentralize passport offices to districts without adequate resources like the printing paper.

Construction Joshua Nkomo statue
Senator Alma Mkhwebu (Zanu-PF Matabeleland South Province) asked the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs to brief the House on progress regarding the construction of late Vice President Joshua Nkomo’s statue in Bulawayo. In response, Hon. Ziyambi said it was work in progress. The sculptors were finishing up the statue.

Measures to protect sexually abused children
Senator Chimbudzi (Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central Province) asked the Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, to explain to the House measures that government has put in place to protect sexually abused children. The Minister said Government of Zimbabwe, as a signatory to various national, regional and international declarations on the rights and protection of children, has implemented various social protection policies, legislative instruments and programmes to ensure the fulfillment of all children and women’s rights. These initiatives resulted in the establishment of the Victims Friendly System in 1997 through the amendment of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act that aimed at supporting survivors of sexual violence and abuse to pursue their right to access specialized health, justice, welfare and other services without hindrance or intimidation.

Adjournment of Parliament

The Senate adjourned to Tuesday 15 October 2013.

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