CONSTITUTIONAL and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga yesterday deferred the Second Reading Stage and debate on the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment 20 Bill as Zanu PF MPs pushed for the fast-tracking of the process.
Report by Veneranda Langa
Zanu PF wants the new constitution to be quickly adopted into law to facilitate the holding of elections by end of June while the two MDCs want key media and security reforms implemented before polls could be held.
Yesterday, the Bill on the constitution went through the First Reading stage, but the business of the House of Assembly came to a halt for almost 15 minutes as a visibly agitated Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa (Zanu PF) lurched towards Matinenga (MDC-T) to try and persuade him to have the Second Reading Stage moved and the Bill debated instantly.
Zanu PF chief whip Joram Gumbo and MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti, MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese and MDC secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga also joined the negotiations which were done in hushed tones, but Matinenga stood his ground and said debate would resume today.
The Speaker of the House of Assembly Lovemore Moyo had to give the legislators involved in the negotiations time to agree on whether the Bill should be debated instantly.
However, Matinenga said he needed time to polish up his speech for the Second Reading Stage.
“I move that Second Reading Stage be done tomorrow (today) because the issue was motivated by consultations with the Management Committee yesterday and the consensus was that introduction of the Bill will be done on Tuesday and the Second Reading Stage and debate on the Bill be done Wednesday (today),” Matinenga said.
“I can confirm that today at 1:30pm I left Cabinet early in order to attend to a number of issues that had to be attended to before I make the final touches to my Second Reading Stage speech and because of the agreement brokered yesterday I came here simply wanting to do what we agreed on yesterday.”
Even Cabinet ministers who rarely attend Parliamentary sessions including Vice-President Joice Mujuru were in attendance yesterday.