BILL WATCH 42/2012
[10th September 2012]
Both Houses have Adjourned until Tuesday 9th October
No Date Yet for Ceremonial Opening of Next Parliamentary Session
Delays in Government and Parliamentary Business
Delay in Opening of Parliament Parliament had earmarked 24th July for the opening of the next [Fifth and final] Session of this Parliament. But the President has not issued the necessary proclamations for proroguing and opening Parliament.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill and Electoral Amendment Bill stalled More than seven weeks after these two urgent Bills were passed by Parliament on 19th September, they have still not been gazetted as Acts.
Referendums Bill vetoed by Cabinet The Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Eric Matinenga, has been trying to get his proposals for a new Referendums Bill through Cabinet for over a year now, but has confirmed it has still been stalled in Cabinet.
Impasse over Constitution This does not look as if it is heading for a speedy resolution.
By-elections The court-ordered deadline for their proclamation was extended to 1st October, but still no sign of any preparations.
Straws in the Wind
Are these delays indications that we are heading for a General Election? Otherwise why the lack of action Who benefits? If President Mugabe is considering repudiating the GPA and calling a snap election under the Lancaster House Constitution, this delay would make some sense – because it would be to ZANU-PF’s advantage for an election to be conducted under the same rules as the 2008 election.
In Parliament on Tuesday 4th September
Both Houses met on Tuesday 4th September. They then adjourned until Tuesday 9th October, although Parliament expects that before this date, the President will end the present session and summon Parliament for the opening of the next session.
The Senate sat for only 16 minutes. Following opening prayers the President of the Senate made announcements, after which the Senate adjourned. Although there was a long list of adverse Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] reports on the agenda, there was no debate on any of them. This was no doubt because the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs has agreed to see that the statutory instruments concerned are amended and the PLC have said that if this were done they would withdraw the adverse reports [see Bill Watch 41/2012 of 3rd September].
House of Assembly
The House of Assembly, by contrast, sat for over three hours, until 5.19 pm.
The Minister of Finance gave notice that he intends to present the Securities Bill [gazetted on 10th August] when Parliament resumes. [Bill available from firstname.lastname@example.org]
Two take note motions were considered:
Report on the October 2011 session of the Pan African Parliament [PAP] This report was presented by Hon Matamisa, one of the five Zimbabwean Parliamentarians who attended the session. It included information on the:
- African Court of Justice and Human Rights 
The PAP adopted a resolution urging African governments ”to materialise their political will for an independent continental court by signing the Protocol creating the African Court of Justice and Human Rights”. This court is to be created by merging the current African Court of Human and People’s Rights, based in Arusha, Tanzania, and the AU’s African Court of Justice, based in Addis Ababa. The new court will have jurisdiction in criminal cases. [All three court protocols available from email@example.com] [Comment: This sentiments behind this resolution differ markedly from those underlying the SADC Summit’s recent confirmation of a decision to strip the SADC Tribunal of its human rights jurisdiction.]
- African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance 
The PAP President urged PAP members to continue lobbying their Parliaments for the ratification and domestication of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance.
Note: Zimbabwe has not signed either the new African Court of Justice and Human Right protocol or the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance. It has signed, but not ratified, the protocols for the African Court of Justice and the African Court of Human and People’s Rights.
Report on the Agreement signed between the Government and Essar Holdings re New Zimbabwe Steel Ltd This report was presented by the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce, Hon Mutomba [ZANU-PF]. The portfolio committee had investigated the matter because of concerns over the failure to implement the revival of the ZISCO steelworks and the resultant imperilling of the jobs of 3000 workers. The report criticised aspects of the agreement it considered “grossly unfair” to Zimbabwe, and the way the deal was handled by the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Professor Welshman Ncube, and his Ministry. Particularly slated was the Ministry’s failure to consult the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development when that Ministry’s co-operation was vital to the deal’s implementation. The report’s recommendations include reviewing the agreement, and proper consultation before future such agreements are concluded. [Report available from firstname.lastname@example.org]
MPs from both ZANU-PF and MDC-T contributed to the ensuing debate, criticizing the deal for ”just giving away” valuable national assets and alleging it was tainted by corruption. Debate was incomplete when the House adjourned.
Refutation Professor Ncube’s MDC party has issued a strong statement defending him against the allegations and attributing the onslaught to political opportunism The statement declares: “We believe that parliamentary oversight should not be used as a forum for displaying petty jealousies. Parliamentary privilege should not be abused to make unsubstantiated accusations against our country’s guests such as Essar. When Hon. Madzimure says that money exchanged hands corruptly, one would expect the honourable member to avail that same information to the law enforcement agencies.” And Professor Ncube himself has announced that, on the same day the committee’s report was discussed in the House, he took the agreement back to Cabinet, which approved it and ordered its implementation.
Recent SADC Organ Troika Summit [4th September]
The Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on 4th September. The meeting was primarily to receive Mozambique President Guebuza’s report on the crisis in the Eastern DRC, but the Zimbabwe and Madagascar situations were also discussed. Tanzanian President Jekaya Kikwete took over the Troika chair at the August SADC Summit in Maputo; the other Troika members are President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. President Zuma of South Africa, was unable to be present but was represented by his Minister of Defence. After the meeting President Kikwete was quoted as saying "We wish to see free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. He announced that Zimbabwe would be discussed at a further Organ Troika Summit on 7th and 8th October.
SADC Facilitation team visit
President Zuma’s facilitation team had visited Harare the week before the Dar es Salaam Troika meeting and talked to the three party negotiating teams, separately on the 28th August and in a joint meeting on the 29th. The MDC negotiators told the facilitators that there was a deadlock between them and ZANU-PF over the constitution and were requested to confirm this in writing to President Mugabe. ZANU-PF said they were waiting for a principals meeting. [The principals have still not met since the declaration of the deadlock. Perhaps the announcement of the impending Organ Troika summit in early October will encourage the principals to meet and achieve a resolution of the present deadlock.]
Status of Bills as at 7th September 2012
[Bills available from email@example.com unless otherwise stated]
Passed Bills awaiting Presidential assent and gazetting as Acts
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill [sent for assent 31st August]
Electoral Amendment Bill [sent for assent 3rd September]
Older Persons Bill
Appropriation (2012) Amendment Bill
Bill gazetted and awaiting presentation in Parliament
Microfinance Bill [gazetted on 31st August] [not yet available]
Securities Amendment Bill [gazetted on 10th August 2012] The Minister of Finance will present this Bill when the House next sits.
Government Gazette of 7th September
[copies not available]
No Acts, Bills or statutory instruments were gazetted.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied