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Roundup Bulletin No. 07 - 8th Parliament - 2013
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
November 28, 2013
Last week and
this week MPs continued debating the Presidential Speech,
challenges bedeviling the power sector, and sanctions. Hon. Innocent
Gonese introduced a new motion urging the Executive to expedite
the alignment of existing laws with the provisions of the new Constitution.
During the Question and Answer Session on Wednesday last week, the
Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing,
Hon. Biggie Pasihomusha-Matiza was taken to task by Backbenchers
regarding the demolishment
of “illegal” houses in urban local authorities.
to Portfolio Committees
The Speaker announced
the following changes in Portfolio Committee Membership; Hon L Sibanda
withdrew from serving on the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education,
Science and Technology Development. This is because the Hon. Member
is already serving two other committees; and Hon. Majaya moved from
the Portfolio Committee on Communication Technology, Postal and
Courier Services to the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy.
on the Presidential Speech
Hon. Sabina Thembani
(Zanu-PF) and Hon. Zenzo Sibanda (Zanu-PF Tsholotsho South) debated
on the Presidential Speech and urged the government to move with
speed in addressing issues of poor road networks and to enact stiffer
penalties for reckless drivers. The two members applauded the President
for emphasising the importance of agriculture in boosting the country’s
economy and urged government to shift to irrigation farming and
thus build more dams especially in areas that receive little rainfall
such as Tsholotsho. The members also encouraged the government to
prioritise the health sector and urgently amend laws that govern
health care. The Members also made a clarion call for the removal
in the power sector in Zimbabwe
Members continued with
debate on the intermittent power cuts by Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (ZESA), a motion that was raised by Hon. James Maridadi
a couple of weeks ago. Zanu-PF Members argued that the reason why
ZESA was failing to deliver as expected was as a result of the sanctions
imposed on the country by the West. Hon. Dextor Nduna (Zanu-PF Chegutu
West) reiterated that the problem of power shortages was not only
a Zimbabwean problem but rather a regional phenomenon. He argued
that for Zimbabwe it was made worse by the fact that ZESA could
not buy spare parts from Western countries since the country was
under sanctions. Members applauded the introduction of prepaid meter
services and noted that this was set to improve electricity supply
as people were now paying upfront for what they were using. Members
also bemoaned the fact that ZESA was not compensating residents
for their damaged gadgets as a result of intermittent power cuts.
Hon. Annastancia Ndhlovu urged government to move to other alternatives
such as solar and wind energy sources which are environmentally
friendly to mitigate the problem of power shortages. By addressing
the problem of energy or electricity the government would have eased
the burden on women since they were the ones who were hit hard by
the effects of power cuts.
Hon. Edward Cross (MDC-T
Bulawayo South) disputed the argument that power shortages were
a result of sanctions. He blamed the problem squarely on Zanu-PF’s
poor management of public resources. He accused the Zanu-PF government
for failing to service and reconstruct power stations in the country
over the last 34 years. He further emphasised that unless the government
changed its draconian indigenisation policies, investors in the
energy sector will continue to shy away from Zimbabwe and the problem
of power shortages will not be solved in the near future.
of existing laws to the Constitution
Hon. Innocent Gonese
(MDC-T Mutare) and Hon. Jessie Majome (MDC-T Harare West) introduced
a motion in the National Assembly on the re-alignment of existing
laws to the provisions of the new Constitution. The motion urged
the Executive to expedite the process by bringing relevant pieces
of legislation to Parliament for realignment in order to avoid a
constitutional crisis in the country. They argued that delays in
re-aligning the existing laws and also the enactment of new laws
to give effect to the provisions of the new Constitution have hamstrung
the establishment of public institutions and commissions provided
for in the Constitution e.g. the establishment of provincial councils,
appointment of several commissions such as the Gender Commission,
Land Commission etc. Though such public institutions are provided
for in the Constitution, there must be enabling legislation to operationalize
While Zanu-PF MPs embraced
the motion, they sought to defend delays by the Executive in introducing
the relevant Bills in Parliament. Zanu-PF Chief Whip, Hon. Jorum
Gumbo, said Members should be patient as government was seized with
the matter. He said the President mentioned the issue of realignment
of laws to the Constitution as one of government’s top priority
when he officially opened the First Session of the Eighth Parliament.
He also argued that Hon. Gonese’s motion was a waste of time
as MDC Members should simply have debated the issue under the Presidential
Speech motion. Be that as it may, any Member of Parliament is free
to introduce a motion of his choice in Parliament.
of illegal houses in urban areas
As indicated above, the
Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing,
Hon. Biggie Pasihomusha-Matiza was taken to task by back-benchers
regarding the demolishment of “illegal” houses in urban
local authorities during the Question and Answer Session on Wednesday
last week. Members queried why government was evicting residents
who built their houses in undesignated areas and demolishing their
houses without offering them alternative accommodation as happened
in 2005 during the clean-up exercise (Murambatsvina). Members argued
that the timing by government was not proper given the onset of
the rain season.
In response, the Deputy
Minister said he was not in a position to confirm or deny if government
had already started evicting the affected people or demolishing
their structures. However, he said government has instituted an
audit of the illegal structures in Harare and Chitungwiza and hence
his ministry would be guided by the findings and recommendations
of the audit report on what action to take.
Hon. Gonese indicated
to the House that Hon. Khupe and Hon. Maridadi were ready to wind
up their motions on cancer levy and power sector challenges, respectively.
He called upon the relevant Minister to respond before the motions
were withdrawn from the Order Paper.
In the 7th Parliament
most Ministers ignored this requirement. However, it is now a constitutional
requirement for members of the Executive to attend parliamentary
sittings and respond to issues relevant to their government portfolios.
It remains to be seen if the Executive will observe this requirement
and also if Parliament will enforce it.
Hearings on 2014 Budget shelved
The Portfolio Committee
on Budget and Finance had planned to conduct public consultations
on the 2014 Budget this week. However, for reasons yet to be explained
to the public, this activity has been postponed to a later date.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development does not seem to
be in a hurry to table the 2014 National Budget in Parliament. Actually,
the Minister of Finance, Hon. Patrick Chinamasa indicated to Parliament
at the pre-Budget Seminar last month that the law allowed him to
present the Budget even in January next year.
National Assembly adjourned until Tuesday, 3rd December, 2013.
It was clear on Tuesday
this week that the National Assembly did not have much business
to consider in the House except for private members motions, which
by the look of things have been debated exhaustively. As a result,
the National Assembly sat for barely two hours on Tuesday this before
it adjourned to Tuesday 3 December 2013. The situation is even worse
in the Senate, where Senators are seemingly reluctant to introduce
private motions for debate.
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