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  • Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 05 - 8th Parliament - 2013
    Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
    October 18, 2013


    The National Assembly saw emotions running high this week as the two main political parties had heated exchanges on a number of motions before the House; 31st July harmonized elections, food shortages, sanctions as elaborated below.

    Motion on elections ruled out of order

    On Tuesday Hon. Zvidzai (MDC-T) intended to give notice of his motion which sought the resolution of the House to allow the Portfolio Committee on Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to conduct an inquiry into the of the 31st July 2013 harmonized elections. However, the Speaker asked him to defer his motion as the Speaker wanted to scrutinize it to determine whether or not it was admissible in terms of the Constitution and the House Standing Rules and Orders. On Thursday, the Speaker gave his ruling and said the motion was inadmissible in terms of the Constitution and the House Standing Rules and Orders. In his ruling, the Speaker noted that the matter regarding the Presidential Elections has already been settled by the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the elections were free, fair and credible. Hence, there could be no any other body more competent than the Constitutional Court to pass a verdict on such a matter. The Speaker also noted that the motion fell foul of the House procedures since it sought to discuss a matter still pending in the Courts, that is, the MDC-T petitions challenging the outcome of elections in 31 constituencies.

    Appointment of Members to the Standing Rules and Orders Committee

    The Speaker announced the appointment of the following Members to the Standing Rules and Orders Committee in addition to the list announced last week:

    • Hon. Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T),
    • Sen. Chief Charumbira,
    • Hon. Melody Dziva (Zanu-PF),
    • Hon. Kazemba Kazembe (Zanu-PF),
    • Sen. Priscah Mupfumira (Zanu-PF) Hon. Daniel Shumba (Zanu-PF),
    • Hon. Jasmine Toffa (MDC),
    • Hon. Constance Tsomondo (Zanu-PF)

    Appointment of Members to the Pan African Parliament Delegation

    The following Members were appointed to the Zimbabwe Delegation to the Pan African Parliament:

    • Hon. Chenhamo Chimutengwende (Zanu-PF),
    • Hon. Jorum Gumbo (Zanu-PF),
    • Sen. Fortune Charumbira (Chiefs),
    • Hon. Tapiwa Mashakada (MDC-T) and
    • Sen. Priscah Mupfumira (Zanu-PF).

    Appointment of Members to the SADC PF Delegation

    The following Members were appointed to the Zimbabwe Delegation to the SADC Parliamentary Forum:

    • Hon. Innocent Gonese (MDC-T),
    • Sen. Tambudzani Mohadi (Zanu-PF)
    • Hon. Samson Mukanduri (Zanu-PF),
    • Sen. Monica Mutsvangwa (Zanu-PF) and
    • Hon. Jasmine Toffa (MDC).

    Motion on food shortages

    The motion by Hon. Samuel Sipepa Nkomo on food insecurity in the country created intense debate which saw Members debating on partisan lines. While Members across the political divide were agreed that many people (2.2 million) in the country were facing food shortages, they were sharply divided on the cause of this situation. Hon. Nkomo put the blame squarely on poor government policies. He said the “radical transformation in land ownership” was responsible for the decline in maize production as the new farmers did not have adequate skills, experience, technical and financial support. Hon. Nkomo said while the principle of land redistribution was noble, the manner in which it was done was meant to prop up the waning popularity of the ruling party.

    While Zanu-PF Members accepted the stark reality of hunger stalking the nation, they attributed it to the former Minister of Finance, Hon. Tendai Biti. They accused Hon. Biti for deliberately under-funding agriculture for political gains. They also blamed the situation on the “Western imposed sanctions”.

    Motion on cancer levy

    On Wednesday, Hon. Thokozani Khupe (MDC-T) seconded by Hon. Ruth Labode-Mafoko introduced a motion in the National Assembly calling for the introduction of a Cancer Levy in the same mould as the HIV/AIDS Levy. Prior to debating her motion, Hon. Khupe played a video of cancer patients to Members to demonstrate the gravity of her motion. She informed the House that, being a victim of breast cancer herself, she had taken a passionate interest in the subject and this has exposed her to the gravity of challenges that cancer patients are faced with. Hon. Khupe told the House that cancer has become the most deadly “killer’ in the country after HIV and AIDS. However, she noted that the country did not have adequate facilities to deal with this disease as only two referral hospitalities in the country were equipped to deal with the disease. She said the equipment at Mpilo and Parirenyatwa Hospitals was in most cases dysfunctional. In addition, she noted that cancer treatment was very expensive and therefore beyond the reach of many sufferers, especially the poor in rural areas. As a result, she said many women were dying silently in their agony without any treatment and care.

    The House was shocked to hear that 60% of women in the country were at risk of cervical cancer. In addition, 1800 women were affected by breast cancer annually and 1200 of those succumb to the disease annually.

    The motion received support across the political divide. Members supported the idea of setting up a Cancer Levy as proposed by Hon. Khupe. However, the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Hon. Dr. Paul Chimedza suggested that instead of coming up with a levy specifically for cancer, it would be more beneficial to introduce a National Health Insurance Fund that will cover all non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension etc.

    Motion on the lifting of sanctions

    The motion calling for the lifting of “sanctions” imposed on Zimbabwe by western countries caused heated debate in the House. The motion was introduced by Hon. Makhosini Hlongwane (Zanu-PF Mberengwa East) seconded by Hon. Mavima. Hon. Hlongwane called upon the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and United States of America to “lift all forms of sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe”. He said these sanctions were responsible for high rate of de-industrialization, unemployment and poverty levels which the country has been experiencing for the last 12 years. Hon. Hlongwane and his seconder argued that the really reason Zimbabwe was slapped with sanctions was for implementing the land reform programme not the so called human rights abuses. He said Zimbabwe was not able to access lines of credit from international financial institutions because of the restrictions contained in the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act passed by the US Congress as well as restrictive measures invoked by the EU under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.

    MDC-T Members who contributed to the debate, Hon. Mashakada and Hon. S Chikwinya dismissed Hon. Hlongwane’s assertions on sanctions. Hon. Mashakada said it was unfortunate that Zanu-PF had found a convenient scapegoat in sanctions as they now blame all their failures on sanctions. He said what the western countries imposed on Zimbabwe were restrictive measures as there were no complete trade embargoes. Further, Hon. Mashakada noted that Zimbabwe was still in trade with Western countries but was failing to meet its quotas. He also argued that economic decline in the country started in the 90’s well before the implementation of the said restrictive measures during the time of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP). Hon. Mashakada also said the effects ESAP were worsened by Zimbabwe’s involvement in the DR Congo war which cost the country US$3 billion.

    Hon. Settlement Chikwinya said Zimbabwe had an obligation under Article 9 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement to respect and observe human rights and the rule of law. However, he said Zimbabwe was in flagrant violation of the above mentioned Article and perpetrators of violence and other forms of human rights abuses did so with impunity. He alleged that Hon. Chinotimba murdered an MDC-T activist, Dickson Sibamba, in Buhera during the March 2008 elections. This did not go down well with Hon. Chinotimba and other Zanu-PF Members. The Speaker ordered Hon. Chikwinya to withdraw his allegations against Hon. Chinotimba. Hon. Chikwinya obliged but requested permission to submit his documented evidence. The Speaker ruled against Hon. Chikwinya’s request but rather advised him to report the issue to the police. Zanu-PF Members broke into song and temporarily brought the House into pandemonium. Hon. Chikwinya was not able to finish debate as he was timed-out.

    Motion on power outages

    Hon. James Maridadi (MDC-T) seconded by Hon. Gift Chimanikire (MDC-T) introduced a motion in the House regarding the intermittent power outages and the attendant consequences. Hon. Maridadi revealed to the House that the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) currently had an installed generating capacity of 1 950 mega watts from its five plants against a national demand of 2200 mega watts. He pointed out that currently, ZESA was only generating 1000 mega watts. Hon. Maridadi attributed the electricity problem in the country to “lack of vision and forward planning” by government. He argued that since independence there hasn’t been any investment into new electricity generating plants. Hon. Maridadi also noted that electricity was one of the economic enablers and therefore this was affecting economic development in the country.

    Hon. Chimanikire highlighted the social and economic consequences of the intermittent power outages in the country. He noted hospitals were hard-hit by the problem and as a result some patients had died due to power outages. He strongly recommended the use of other energy sources such as solar, wind, biogas etc to supplement electricity currently generated by ZESA.

    Appointment of Committees

    The Speaker and the President of the Senate announced the appointment of Portfolio Committees and Thematic Committees, respectively. The electronic list is available at SAPST upon request.

    Adjournment of Parliament

    The National Assembly adjourned to 5 November 2013 whereas the Senate adjourned to 22 October 2013. However, Committees will continue meeting.

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