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Parliament major highlights of 2010

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2010 Legislative Agenda

President Robert Mugabe officially opened the Third Session of the Seventh Parliament on July 13, 2010.

He announced the legislative agenda during the official opening of Parliament and said 24 Bills would be considered by the legislature during the new session.

Zanu PF walks out of Parliament

In March 2010, Zanu PF MPs walked out of Parliament when MDC-T chief whip and MP for Mutare Central Innocent Gonese introduced a motion on the violence that characterised the March 29, 2008 elections.
“Mr Speaker Sir, he said, “elections should not be like a war.”

The debate became emotional as Gonese and other MDC-T MPs narrated the gory violent acts opposition party supporters experienced at the hands of alleged Zanu PF elements during that period.
Zanu PF MPs could not bear the testimonies and they walked out.

MDC-T MPs tabled statistics of victims of the political violence during the run-up to the elections, including those murdered. Zanu PF chief whip Joram Gumbo then ordered his colleagues to walk out of the House and they did.

Public Order and Security Amendment Bill

A private member’s bill had never been introduced in the history of Zimbabwe’s Parliament and MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese became the first private member to introduce amendments to a bill.
Amendments are normally brought to Parliament by the Executive.

On July 13, Gonese sought leave with the Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo, to bring back the Public Order and Security Amendment (Posa) Bill back on the Parliament Order Paper as it had been superseded by the second session which had lapsed by reason of prorogation as President Mugabe had announced a new legislative agenda, which did not include amendments to Posa.

On October 5, 2010 in a major volte face, Zanu PF MPs who had in the past dug in their heels against any amendments to Posa, meant to relax the draconian law, agreed the oppressive law should be amended.

On December 18 2010, the MDC-T registered victory when Posa successfully went through the Third Reading Stage in the House of Assembly.

The Bill now awaits scrutiny by Senate before it is taken to the President for assent.

The constitution-making process

June 21 2010 – Parliament had to take a long break to allow MPs and senators to work with Copac in the making of a new constitution for Zimbabwe.

Copac was introduced through Constitutional Amendment No. 19 and three parliamentarians from three different political parties in the House were chosen to co-chair the constitution-making process.

The three were Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T), Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (Zanu PF) and Edward Mkhosi (MDC-M).

However, the Copac-led constitution-making process had to face a lot of hurdles due to financial constraints and politicisation of the constitution-making process.
The following are the Copac major highlights:

War veterans disrupt the First All Stakeholders’ Conference at the Harare International Conference Centre.

MPs were caught in a vehicle scam as they hired out RBZ- owned vehicles to Copac. Co-chairpersons said they would not pay them for those vehicles.

Intimidation of participants at Copac outreach meetings through violence and “prayers”.

Threats of strikes by Copac outreach teams and MPs due to non-payment of allowances and hire of vehicles.
lNational Constitutional Assembly chairperson Lovemore Madhuku said the constitution-making process should not be led by politicians and launched “No Vote” campaign for the referendum.

September 19 – Copac holds constitutional outreach meetings for Harare and Bulawayo provinces which were marred by violence in Harare as Zanu PF youths and war veterans politicised the process and intimidated those with differing views from contributing freely to the process.

October 12 – Copac chairpersons Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana and Douglas Mwonzora clash over Harare Copac outreach violence, with Mangwana watering down the extent of the violence and Mwonzora saying it was prevalent.

September 29 – Copac announced stringent conditions for the repeats of outreach meetings in Harare to avoid repeats of violence.

December 10 – Madhuku calls for the disbanding of Copac saying it was a flawed process.

Constitutional expert Greg Linington warns that President Mugabe and Parliament have powers to pass a draft constitution into law even if people rejected the draft in the referendum.

September 29 – Co-chairperson Mkhosi announced the constitution won’t be ready for polls announced by President Mugabe in June 2011.

MDC-T senators protest over presence of provincial governors in the House

October 12 – MDC-T MPs plan a showdown in Senate should the provincial governors unilaterally appointed by President Mugabe show up in the House.

November 11 – MDC-T senators disrupt Senate proceedings by singing and dancing, protesting against “intruders” in the House in reference to provincial governors. As a result, senate was forced to adjourn to February 8 2011.

December 6 – PM Morgan Tsvangirai orders senators back to work.

2011 National Budget

November 25 – Finance minister, Tendai Biti announces $2,7 billion for the 2011 National Budget.
Some of the Budget Highlights included:

Education received highest vote of $400 million
Tax-free threshold gradually adjusted from $150 with effect from January 1 2010 to the current $250 per month.

Bonus-exempt tax threshold increased from $400 to $500, with effect from November 1 2010.

100% salary increment for civil servants.

lMPs threatened to block the passage of the Finance Bill to do with the 2011 National Budget, demanding that Biti first make amendments to the budget before it was passed.

The amendments that the MPs wanted included the improvement of their conditions of service, salary increase of up to $3000 per month, as well as allocations of $200 000 for the Constituency Development Fund.

Biti introduces amendments to Finance (No. 2) Bill to do with the budget, which Zanu PF said was a ploy to usurp President Mugabe’s powers through amending Section 2 of the Exchange Control Act Chapter 22:05 in the Finance Bill.

Both Houses of Parliament, the Senate and House of Assembly, passed the 2011 National Budget after amendments to the Finance (No. 2) Bill.

Interesting debate in Parliament

MPs demand moving with spouses and to book them at their hotels each time they came to Harare when Parliament is sitting to avoid temptations that come with city life.

MDC-T MP for Chiredzi West Moses Mare and Maramba Pfungwe MP Washington Musvaire (Zanu PF) nearly exchange blows in Parliament while lawmakers contributed their views to the constitution-making process.

Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Nicholas Goche came under fire from MPs over allocation of Road Fund in a “corrupt manner”.

Uzumba MP Simbaneuta Mudarikwa threatened MPs would attend Parliament in overalls if their allowances and salaries were not raised.

PM Tsvangirai, Deputy PM Arthur Mutambara, Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Nomalanga Mzilikazi Khumalo called upon ministers to take Wednesday’s Question and Answer Sessions seriously.

Parliamentary Committee Business

Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts exposes gross anomalies by government departments and parastatals through an audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Mines and Energy Committee led by Guruve South MP Edward Chindori Chininga unearthed Chiadzwa diamond field’s anomalies and Shabanie Mashaba Mines Holdings saga.

The following were the major highlights of Mines and Energy committee work:

Mines and Energy Committee barred from visiting Chiadzwa to investigate diamond issue and to meet the Chiadzwa community for a public hearing.

Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu and directors of Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Miners attempt to dodge appearing before Mines and Energy Committee on the excuse that the matter was subjudice (before the courts), but Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma insisted that they should.

Mines and Energy Committee put to discussion Shabanie Mashaba Mines Holdings issue.

November 15 – Businessman Mutumwa Mawere appears before the Mines and Energy Committee and alleges Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa used the Reconstruction of State Insolvent Act and the State-Indebted Insolvency Companies Act to fraudulently wrest his companies from him.

December 6, 13 and 15 – Chinamasa fails to appear before the Mines and Energy Committee and Parliament said it would take stern measures if he failed to appear before the committee to give oral evidence on the state’s takeover of Mutumwa Mawere’s SMM Holdings on January 10 2011.

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