2011 — wasted year for Parliament

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The year 2011 had promised to be a busy one for both the Senate and House of Assembly after President Robert Mugabe outlined 24 Bills for the Third Session of the Seventh Parliament that ended in August.

But only seven Bills including the contention the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill, the Electoral Amendment Bill and the General Laws Amendment Bill among others were passed by the House of Assembly.

In September, when he officially opened the Fourth Session of the Seventh Parliament, President Mugabe outlined another 19 Bills MPs have to dispense with and the jury is still out on their performance.

But the consensus is that this year was another wasted opportunity for the inclusive government’s legislative agenda.

Below NewsDay lists some of the highlights for both the House of Assembly and Senate in 2011.

March — Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri appeared before the Parliament’s thematic committee on Peace and Security and the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Defence and Home Affairs to answer questions on political violence.

Chihuri went on the offensive accusing MDC-T of being behind violence and claimed he had used his discretion not to arrest Deputy Prime Minister, Thokozani Khupe, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Lovemore Moyo, chairman of the Defence Committee, Paul Madzore and MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora on political violence charges.

Speaker of the House of Assembly, Moyo (MDC-T) lost his post after Supreme Court ruled in favour of Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo (Zanu PF).

Moyo was re-elected Speaker after trouncing Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo. The election was mired in controversy after MDC-T claimed Jonathan Moyo had tried to bribe its MPs using a $25 000 slush fund.

July — Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono was thrown out of a hearing, kicked out of Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion after he failed to bring his 10-member board to appear before the committee.

Mbizo MP, Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T) introduced a motion calling on Parliament to declare unconstitutional statements by Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba threatening to prevent Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai from taking power even if he won elections.

Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa was accused of contempt of Parliament together with Shabanie Mashaba Mines administrator Afaras Gwaradzimba after the Mines and Energy Porfolio Committee alleged they lied under oath.

Chinamasa later escaped censure after the Speaker of Parliament ruled there was no prima facie case against the minister.

The speaker ruled Gwaradzimba had a case to answer over statements he made about the Mines and Energy Committee in the media.

Gono appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion and revealed that millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money was used to fund the 2008’s harmonised elections against Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s sound economic advice.

He said this pushed the RBZ debt to $1 billion.

The Zimbabwe Football Association appealed to Parliament and the government to intervene and craft legislation that would impose deterrent sentences for match-fixers and to protect those involved in the investigations of the infamous Asiagate scam.

Zanu PF activists disrupted public hearings conducted by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Human Rights Commission Bill.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Douglas Mwonzora, called on Police Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri, to resign following the mayhem. To date, no one has been arrested over the violence.

August — Chinamasa stoppped the second reading stage of the Public Order and Security Act in the Senate saying it was subject to discussion by negotiators to the Global Political Agreement. The Bill had passed through the House of Assembly.

MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese moved the proposed amendments and brought it before Parliament as a private member’s Bill.

September — President Robert Mugabe officially opened the Fourth session of the Seventh Parliament outlining 19 bills to be considered by the House of Assembly.

The House of Assembly adopted a motion to introduce the inaugural Prime Minister’s Question time where the incumbent Morgan Tsvangirai would appear once a month on a Wednesday in the House of Assembly and once a month on a Thursday in the Senate to take questions on government policy issues from legislators.

November — MPs threatened to attend Parliament in casual clothing or overalls in protest over outstanding allowances since 2008. The three principals in the inclusive government relented to the MPs’ demands and agreed they be paid outstanding allowances, which would cost the government at least $3 million.

PM Tsvangirai’s alleged marriage to a Harare business woman took centre stage in Parliament with MDC-T MPs taking exception to Zanu PF’s congratulatory messages to the PM.

Hwange Central MP Brian Tshuma (MDC-T) placed a motion calling for the dismissal of Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma accusing him of bias towards Zanu PF.

December — Parliament rounded up with the passing of a motion moved by Chikwinya calling for the dissolution of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe board after it awarded radio licenses to Zimpapers and Supa Mandiwanzira’s AB Communications.

PM Tsvangirai made his end-of-year address in the House of Assembly and bemoaned the failure to table bills as promised.

Zanu PF MPs walked out of Parliament protesting over the motion to oust Zvoma.