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Trade treaties approved 10 years laterBY VENERANDA LANGA

Foreign Affairs deputy minister David Musabayana was yesterday grilled by opposition MPs when he brought old trade treaties before the National Assembly for condonation several years after the Executive signed them without Parliament’s approval.

Some of the trade agreements were signed in 2000, while another one was signed in 2010 and involved countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, the United States, among others.

Harare East MP Tendai Biti blasted Musabayana, saying that there was a lot of disrespect of Parliament by the Executive which went on to sign the agreements before bringing them for approval by Parliament in terms of section 327(2)(a) of the Constitution which stipulates that all international treaties must be first approved by Parliament.

“So, Parliament must not be used as a rubber stamp. The Executive has a disrespectful approach towards Parliament which is the third arm of the State and it is not subordinate to the Executive. The Minister of Foreign Affairs must respect this House with the dignity that it deserves,” Biti said.

Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya also hit out at Musabayana, saying Zimbabwe was failing to attract investors due to its ugly history of abductions of citizens, including the incarceration of Harare West MP Joanah Mamombe, as well as its poor human rights record, which has seen investors shying away.

Makonde MP Kindness Paradza (Zanu PF) then contributed his views on the trade treaty with the US, saying that it was unfortunate that the treaty was signed years back before the US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.

“But now most of our companies are failing to buy equipment due to sanctions. While we approve this treaty, let it be noted that Washington should at least remove these illegal sanctions,” Paradza said.

But Chikwinya shot down Paradza’s assertions, saying Washington imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe because of human rights abuses.

“What we have are travel restrictions — it is a fact. There are differences between Harare and Washington — it is a fact, but the head of State signed a treaty knowing what he was doing, and it is to trade with the US. But the Americans are clear that they cannot use US taxpayers’ money to abduct Mamombe and to fund a regime that abuses human rights,” Chikwinya said.

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Tsitsi Gezi quashed Chikwinya’s points, saying his line of debate was off course. But Biti challenged Gezi, saying she had allowed Paradza to stray and mention sanctions and so opposition MPs were explaining, hence the position.

In his response, Musabayana said all nations had their own problems which they solved internally.

He denied that investors shunned Zimbabwe due to human rights abuses and claimed that in the new dispensation Zimbabwe improved its doing business ratings from a 155 ranking to 140, which showed that the environment was conducive for investment.