Chinamasa gives in


0

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa agreed, after a bit of cajoling, to the formation of a Business Management Committee to monitor and oversee the management of the House.

This had been Chinamasa’s role as leader of the House.

The BMC comprised the Speaker of the House (Emmerson Mnangagwa-ZANU-PF), the Deputy Speaker (Edna Madzongwe-ZANU-PF), the Leader of the Opposition (Welshman Ncube-MDC), the Chief Whip (Joram Gumbo-ZANU-PF) and the Opposition Whip (Innocent Gonese-MDC).

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE1974, PARLIAMENT TO RESUME SESSION ON OCTOBER 7

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1974

2003-09-30 06:27

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

300627Z Sep 03

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001974

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT TO RESUME SESSION ON OCTOBER 7

 

REF: A. HARARE 1506

 

B. HARARE 1880

C. HARARE 1135

 

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: After making limited progress on the

government,s ambitious legislative agenda during the last

session, Parliament is slated to resume attention on October

7 to a host of potentially important bills, including an

electoral act and an anti-money laundering law. Parliament

last adjourned September 11 but not before getting the

Privileges Amendment Bill, which would punish members of

parliament who boycott a Presidential address, through the

first reading or setting the stage for the NGO Bill, which

threatens to curtail NGOs’ abilities to operate freely within

Zimbabwe. Mugabe signed into law this month amendments to

the Broadcasting Services Act, passed in June, that may

impinge on freedom of expression. On a positive note,

despite the continued threats to civil liberties,

Parliamentary procedural reforms continue. The most recent

change being the Standing Rules and Order Committee’s

decision to set up a Business Management Committee that would

wrest the development of the Parliamentary agenda from the

Minister of Judicial, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick

Chinamasa to a committee that includes opposition and ruling

party members. END SUMMARY.

 

———

New Bills

———

2. (U) Of the seventeen bills Mugabe mentioned in his

opening of Parliament speech in July, only two — the Stock

Theft Bill, which reintroduces a minimum mandatory sentence

for the theft of horses and cattle, and the Privileges

Amendment Bill, which punishes MPs who boycott, interrupt, or

walk out on a Presidential address to Parliament — have

reached the first reading stage. (NOTE: Three readings are

required before a bill is conveyed to the President for

signature. END NOTE.) The NGO Bill President Mugabe mentioned

in his opening day speech (Ref A) has run into problems in

the Cabinet Committee on Legislation and is back in the

Attorney General,s office for drafting. After the brouhaha

surrounding the government’s August proclamation that all

internationally donated food aid would be distributed via

government-dominated channels, some within government

reportedly are concerned that the NGO bill, as written, would

run international assistance out of the country (Ref B). In

addition, the government is expected soon to gazette a new

regulation or statutory instrument on Promotion of Banking

Transactions and Suppression of Money Laundering. (NOTE:

According to parliamentary process, bills are fist published

(gazetted) in the government gazette at least two weeks

before they are introduced in Parliament. After gazetting,

the bill proceeds to the first reading. END NOTE.) Other key

bills receiving attention are amendments to the Mines and

Minerals Act, which reportedly may receive public hearing,

and a supplementary budget authorization.

 

————

Old Business

————

3. (U) Two controversial bills — the Citizenship Bill and

Electoral Bill — were dropped in June during the last

session; however, the Electoral Bill is being redrafted and

is expected to be resubmitted. Both the Parliamentary Legal

Committee, which checks bills for constitutional

irregularities, and the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal

and Parliamentary Affairs were critical of the bill and

suggested a government redraft. As originally drafted, the

Electoral Bill would have vested observer accreditation

powers with the government, restricted provision of voter

education, limited voter eligibility, and severely restricted

posting of electioneering materials.

 

4. (U) There has been no movement on the suspension of MDC

MP Tafadzwa Musekiwa, who has missed more than the

constitutional limit of 21 consecutive days of Parliament.

 

5. (U) Just before the last Parliament closed in June,

Parliament passed the AIPPA Amendment Act and the

Broadcasting Services Amendment Act. The President signed

the Broadcasting Services Amendment Act into law in

September, after a period far exceeding the 21 days allowed

for assent into law by the Constitution. The AIPPA Amendment

Act has yet to be signed. The amended AIPPA Act is not much

different from the original one — most of the changes

adopted by the government were cosmetic and did not address

major problems identified by the Portfolio Committee (Ref C).

The Broadcasting Services Amendment Act is intended to

expand the original Act’s scope of coverage, notably

appearing to encompass internet service providers. The

original Act, passed in April 2001, enabled the Ministry of

Information to regulate or effectively ban new private radio

and TV stations and community radios by refusing to isssue

licenses.

 

——————————

Parliamentary Reforms Continue

——————————

6. (U) On a rare positive note, during its August meeting,

the Standing Rules and Order Committee agreed to establish a

Business Management Committee (BMC). The BMC would monitor

and oversee the implementation of the House, set the annual

program–including the legislative agenda–implement the

rules regarding scheduling and functioning of committees, and

issue directives and guidelines to prioritize House benefits.

Prior to the formation of this Committee, the Leader of the

House and Minister of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary

Affairs Patrick Chinamasa managed the house. After a bit of

cajoling earlier in the year, Chinamasa agreed to the

formation of the committee. The BMC comprises the Speaker of

the House (Emmerson Mnangagwa-ZANU-PF), the Deputy Speaker

(Edna Madzongwe-ZANU-PF), the Leader of the Opposition

(Welshman Ncube-MDC), the Chief Whip (Joram Gumbo-ZANU-PF)

and the Opposition Whip (Innocent Gonese-MDC). At the August

meeting, SROC agreed to meet again in October and to decide

which portfolio committee chairpersons to retain. The SROC

also agreed to meet three times a year versus the annual

meetings they now hold.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

7. (SBU) Zimbabwe’s legislative agenda continues to manifest

the government’s interest in tightening controls on potential

opposition in its various guises. The Broadcasting Services

Act amendments and NGO bill would appear to give government

AIPPA-like means to harass and/or control potential critics

outside the press arena. While ostensibly of value against

organized crime and terrorist organizations, the anti-money

laundering bill likely will enhance the government’s legal

means to investigate and to seize the assets of regime

critics. Civil society is tracking the bills closely, and a

September 25 Supreme Court decision upholding Capitol Radio’s

constitutional challenge of certain provisions of the

Broadcast Services Act probably foreshadows more

constitutional attacks on the government’s legislative

output.

 

8. (SBU) The MDC continues to feel its way in Parliament but

appears still largely unprepared to exploit its considerable

presence there. Although the constitution permits any MP to

introduce a private bill, to our knowledge none of the MPs

have ever done so and the parliamentary opposition remains

essentially a reactive force. None seem interested, for

instance, in challenging the Broadcasting Services Amendment

Act’s signature into law long after the period permitted by

the Constitution for signature had expired.

 

9. (SBU) We will reseve judgement for now on the Standing

Rules and Order Committee until we have seen how this body

functions in practice, and wheteher it will redress some of

the more egregious failings of procedure engineered by

Chinamasa in pursuit of ZANU-PF’s legislative agenda. END

COMMENT.

SULLIVAN

 

(3 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHARETweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email
Print this page
Print

Like it? Share with your friends!

0
Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *