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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 08 - 8th Parliament - 2013
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
December 10, 2013

Introduction

Last week two motions were introduced in the National Assembly. Hon. Alexio Musundire (MDC-T Zengeza East) moved a motion on the proliferation of illegal housing structures. Hon. Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga moved a motion on the temporary relocation of the sitting of Parliament to Bulawayo to allow renovations to be done on the current building. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Local Government, Rural and Urban Development appeared before the Local Government Portfolio Committee to give oral evidence.

National Assembly Plenary

Changes to Portfolio Committee Membership

The Speaker informed the House of changes in the membership of the Portfolio Committees as follows: Hon. Dorothy Mashonganyika (ZANU PF Harare Proportional Representation) has moved from the Portfolio Committee on Communication, Technology, Postal and Courier Services to the Portfolio Committee on Mines. Hon. Alfred Mufunga (ZANU PF Muzarabani North) has moved from the Portfolio Committee on Public Works to the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Motion on the Presidential speech

Members continued the debate on the Presidential speech this week. Members spoke on the problems facing the mining sector concerning the community share ownership schemes as well as the poor state of most roads in Zimbabwe.

Motion on the Relocation of the Sitting of Parliament

On Tuesday 3 December 2013, Hon. Priscilla Misihairabwi - Mushonga (Proportional Representation, MDC) moved a motion on the temporary relocation of the venue for the sitting of Parliament preferably to Bulawayo.

This would allow the renovation of the chamber, whose current sitting capacity has become inadequate to accommodate all the Members of the National Assembly. Seats in the National Assembly were increased to 270 from 210 in the previous parliament yet the the the sitting capacity of the current Chamber is 150 members. Hon Lucia Matibenga (Kuwadzana, MDC T) seconded the motion. Members across the political divide supported the Motion. Most Members felt that the current Parliament needed more space to allow a more conducive environment for debating as well as upgrading of other facilities to meet world class standards. However Hon. Lilian Zemura (Proportional Representation, ZANU PF) felt that the proposed renovations could wait as government had other pressing priorities.

Motion on Proliferation of illegal structures

On Wednesday, Hon. Alexio Musundire (Zengeza East, MDC T) seconded by Hon. James Maridadi (Mabvuku-Tafara, MDC T) introduced a motion in the National Assembly calling for Government to take remedial measures by putting in place sustainable housing programmes and pro-poor settlement plans. They also urged government to take action against illegal land developers and unregistered cooperatives. Hon Joseph Chinotimba (Buhera South, ZANU PF) spoke on the need to have planned and acceptable housing structures. He pointed out that haphazard settlements were some of the causes of cholera and other associated diseases. All the members that debated on this motion concurred with Hon. Musundire’s argument and saw the need to protect their constituents against inhumane demolitions of “illegal” housing structures without alternative accommodation to the affected residents.

Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Rural and Urban Development

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development and National Housing, Mr Killian Mupingo and 13 other officials from the Ministry appeared before the Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Portfolio Committee on Tuesday 3 December 2013.

The Permanent Secretary acknowledged that there was a decline in service delivery by the Ministry but they were trying their best to carry out their given mandate. He said the Ministry has a backlog of 1,5 million people that want residential stands and some as a result of desperation are falling prey to dubious cooperatives. He said this was is out of their control.

Regarding the demolition of illegal housing structures, he said this was part of government effort to restore order in the City. Mr. Mupingo informed the Committee that his Ministry was currently conducting an audit of the illegal structures in the City of Harare and Chitungwiza. This exercised was coordinated by the Deputy Minister’s office. The team of 24 experts have been working for the past 23days and will table a report which the Ministry will submit to the Cabinet for policy direction.

Mr. Mupingo also informed the Committee that his Ministry in the process of reconfiguring Government buildings so that they become user friendly to people living with disabilities.

The Ministry was considering having satellite cities to decongest Harare and also adopting proper technology to manage solid waste.

He said the establishment of Provisional Councils pursuant to the provisions of the new Constitution was going to be done early next year. The Ministry said there is need for the necessary legal legislation to regulate their relationships and conditions of service.

Senate Plenary

Three motions where debated in Senate namely the Presidential Speech, Cancer Levy and Alignment of Laws.

Presidential Speech

Senator Madelina Bhebhe (Matebeleland North, ZANU PF) and Senator Dorothy Khumalo (Bulawayo, MDC) applauded the President for his emphasis that agriculture was the backbone of the country. They also emphasized that hospitals and clinics should be built in many areas to curb health problems. In the education sector Senator Bhebhe urged government to encourage the girl-child to go to school. Senator Khumalo encouraged the expedition of devolution so that local people can benefit from the proceeds which come from the local resources.

Alignment of Laws

Senator Sithembile Mlotshwa (Matebeleland South, MDC T) and Senator Watchy Sibanda (Matebeleland South, MDC T) emphasized the need for the government to expedite the alignment of laws to conform to the new constitution. They reiterated that women in Zimbabwe who struggled for total emancipation will not realize this dream if laws took too long to be enacted. Senator Sibanda argued that it was the duty of Senators to make laws for the order and good governance of the country but surprisingly up to date there has not been a bill that has been brought to the Parliament. She said this was tantamount to short-changing the electorate. In particular, she called for the repeal of Section 26 of POSA that violates the right to peaceful protest so that application of law by enforcement agency does not result in the violation of citizens rights.

Cancer Levy

Senator Siphiwe Ncube (Bulawayo, MDC T) and Senator Rorana Muchihwa (Harare, MDC T) concurred with Senator Lilian Timveous (Midlands, MDC T) who tabled a motion calling for the introduction of a cancer levy. They noted that the disease has become a major killer in the country. They argued that government should assist patients by introducing a levy similar to the AIDS Levy. The Senators advised government to enlighten people in rural areas and those in urban areas who seem not to care about the disease. Senator Madolo Sinampande (Matabeleland North, MDC T) and Senator James Makore (Harare, MDC T) also lent their support to the motion.

Thematic Committee on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

The Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare officials appeared before the Thematic Committee on MDGs to give oral evidence on the progress of MDGs in 2013 and 2014 implementation plan.

In their report the Ministry officials highlighted that Zimbabwe has managed to score success on some goals and yet on others it has dismally failed due to various factors. On Goal 1 which is extreme eradication of poverty, Zimbabwe has not done well since the majority of the populace still languish in abject poverty. Universal primary education which is Goal 2, the Ministry reiterated that with its engagement with the Ministry of Education it has managed to source funding for the BEAM programme and was working in order to provide child supplementary feeding in schools so that every child benefits from the programme. The Ministry highlighted that their major challenge on this goal was that there were no adequate funds to finance the child supplementary feeding programme. Reduction of child mortality rate as one of the goals of the MDGs has proven to be difficult for the country as the rates have increased from 612 deaths per 100 000 born babies to 960 deaths per 100 000 live births. This has been further exacerbated by lack of resources and brain drain in the health sector. The government has rolled out health acceleration programme in all districts and through the EU grant it has started to construct shelters for mothers expecting in all districts.

The Ministry reported that it had enrolled the cash transfer programme to 13 districts in the country. The ministry officials informed the Committee that the ministry had acquired $7 million from donors but urged the Committee to assist the ministry in lobbying the budget process to allocate more money for this cause, which is targeted at alleviating poverty.

The oral evidence report given by the Ministry made it clear that the world agreed that they should be a successor of MDGs soon after 2015 and the MDGs have been instrumental in driving down poverty. The Ministry however noted that one of the weaknesses of the MDGs which have made Zimbabwe not to realise its goals fully is that MDGs only defined the destination but it did not define the journey. The successor of MDGs which is going to be Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) will bring in a new dimension and not primarily focus on the social aspect only as the MDGs did but will stretch to look on the political and economic as well.

Adjournment of Parliament

The National Assembly and Senate adjourned to 28 January 2014. However, information at hand indicates that Parliament has been recalled for the 2014 National Budget presentation by the Minister of Finance on Thursday 19 December 2019.

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