Misihairabwi chairs Public Accounts Committee


Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, a Movement for Democratic Change legislator, was appointed chair of the powerful Public Accounts Committee which is in charge of auditing all government finances.

She took over from the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s Reuben Marumahoko who was promoted to Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development.


Full cable:


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Reference ID






2002-09-23 10:35

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 002128









E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/17/2012









1. (C) SUMMARY: Parliament resumed September 10, after a

5-week adjournment, amid speculation that one of the top

ZANU-PF priorities would be a bill to amend the

constitutional requirement that presidential elections be

held within 90 days after a president vacates office.

ZANU-PF pushed through legislation to ease acquisition of

farms and will also try to push through legislation that will

curtail the ability of workers to strike and disenfranchise

thousands of voters. While not having a clear legislative

agenda of their own, the MDC will try to slow or stop the

passage of these bills and strengthen the role of the

parliamentary committees in the legislative process. END






2. (U) The first week of the Third Session of Parliament

began with the usual MDC protests and ZANU-PF manipulation of

parliamentary procedure. MDC MPs walked out of Parliament on

September 10 and 11 when debate started on President

Mugabe,s parliamentary opening speech in late July because

the MDC does not recognize him as the legitimate president of

Zimbabwe. Minister of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary

Affairs and ZANU-PF’s leader in Parliament, Patrick Chinamasa

vowed that the government will come up with measures to deal

with opposition MPs who walk out of the House, adding that it

showed a lack of patriotism to take such action during a

Presidential speech. (NOTE: As we have previously reported,

the MDC is challenging Mugabe,s victory in court, citing

rigging and intimidation in the March presidential election.

The MDC boycotted Mugabe,s speech at the opening of

Parliament in late July. END NOTE.)


3. (U) The ruling party has used its parliamentary majority

to run roughshod over the substantial–but minority–MDC

presence. On September 11, the House passed a motion that

will minimize the MDC’s influence on the passage of the Land

Acquisition Amendment Bill by suspending various standing

rules which a bill must undergo before becoming law. This

was in response to the difficulty ZANU-PF has had in

providing a legal veneer for its land redistribution

exercise. Among the suspended orders was the requirement

bills be introduced 14 days after publication in the gazette

and that bills be referred to portfolio committees before

consideration by the full house. The House also suspended

the constitutional requirement that all bills be certified by

the Parliamentary Legal Committee. (NOTE: Parliament has a

history of suspending standing orders when the ZANU-PF

members feel they cannot pass legislation but it has never

tampered with constitutional requirements. Standing Orders

can only be suspended for one bill at a time. Only a simple

majority is necessary to suspend standing orders, whereas a

two-thirds vote is required for constitutional changes. END



4. (U) On September 18, Parliament passed the Land

Acquisition Amendment Bill, three days after publishing it in

the gazette. Chinamasa moved to suspend the standing order

concerning automatic adjournment of the House at 6:55 PM so

that the bill could pass. The bill makes farm acquisitions

easier by reducing the number of days farmers have to vacate

their lands after a Section 8 compulsory acquisition notice

from 90 to 7. The amendment also relaxes the requirement

that an acquiring authority prove that rural lands are

suitable for agricultural resettlement if the acquired land

will be used for that purpose and if the land has been used

for agriculture purposes any time in the preceding 50 years.

In addition, fines for landowners who resist evictions would

increase five-fold from Z20,000 to Z100,000 (approximately

$145 at the parallel rate) and the Government would be able

reissue Section 8 orders, with much shorter vacancy times, to

replace previous invalid orders.





5. (C) ZANU-PF will likely try to bolster its hold on power

by attempting to pass legislation that would stifle

dissenters and secure the presidency for the party after

President Mugabe’s departure. We have heard reports from a

variety of sources that ZANU-PF is trying to convince some

MDC MPs to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment

allowing an acting president for more than the

constitutionally allowed 90 days. ZANU-PF is seven votes

short of the two-thirds majority needed to push through any

constitutional amendment. (NOTE: Unlike other bills, a

constitutional amendment bill need not receive a stamp of

approval from the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC). All

that is required is a two-thirds majority and that it be

published in the Gazette not less than 30 days before it is

introduced in Parliament. END NOTE.)


6. (C) In a meeting with Poloff on September 11, Victor

Chitongo, a ZANU-PF MP from Murehwa North in Mashonaland

East, confirmed that there is some truth to the rumors of a

constitutional amendment. He claimed that Mugabe would like

to retire in three years and was actually ready to retire

last year but was urged to stay on by several of his

appointed cabinet members (Patrick Chinamasa, Joseph Made,

and Jonathan Moyo). Chitongo claimed that if Mugabe were to

step down now, with no obvious successor, a nasty power

struggle would ensue. He also said there is some dissension

within ZANU-PF, generally along age lines, about who should

succeed Mugabe as ZANU-PF leader. Before Simba Makoni,s

dismissal from Cabinet and Parliament, he was a front-runner

for president among the younger set. Now only Speaker of

Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa is the only clear heir

apparent, and he is more favored by the old guard.


7. (C) COMMENT: ZANU-PF will have difficulty overcoming the

seven-vote deficit in the near-term. It is unlikely that any

of the MDC’s MPs will cross the aisle to vote with the ruling

party because of party loyalty. In addition, only one

by-election is currently scheduled to fill a seat left vacant

by the death of an MDC MP. The former incumbent won the seat

with 64 percent of the vote in 2000. We would not rule out

GOZ efforts to necessitate by-election by imprisoning MDC MPs

on trumped-up charges, but winning those would not be a sure

thing. MP Chitongo’s statement that Mugabe would like to

retire in three years suggests that he might be waiting until

after the next round of Parliamentary elections in the hopes

that ZANU-PF can acquire a two-thirds majority and change the

constitution at that time. END COMMENT.





8. (C) ZANU-PF will also try to push through several other

controversial bills including the Labor Relations Amendment

Bill, published in the government gazette in November 2001,

which received an adverse report from the PLC in late July

and will need to be reworked. The Bill places major

restrictions on collective actions (strikes, boycotts,

sit-ins, etc.) that are not to address an employment related

demand or that are likely to cause prejudice to the

Zimbabwean economy. The Bill also gives the Minister of

Public Service, Labor, and Social Welfare the power to decide

whether a trade union, labor center or employers,

organization should be deregistered for recommending,

encouraging, inciting, organizing or associating itself with

an unlawful collective job action.


9. (C) Equally controversial is the Electoral Amendment Bill

that was referred to the PLC before Parliament recessed. The

Electoral Amendment Bill, gazetted in March 2002 after many

of its provisions were declared unconstitutional by the

Supreme Court, would impose a range of restrictions that

would disenfranchise many voters, prevent civic organizations

from engaging in voter education, limit election monitoring

and observation, and prevent posting of posters and other

campaign materials on walls, trees, etc. without the

permission of the owner. Under the Bill, only diplomatic

staff and defense force personnel will be able to vote by

absentee ballot, thereby depriving the large numbers of

Zimbabweans outside the country of their right to vote.

Proof of residency in a particular electoral constituency may

also disenfranchise boarders. (Ironically, six months after

the presidential elections in which many residents of

Malawian, Mozambican, and Zambian origin were disenfranchised

by electoral rules then enforced, Justice Minister Chinamasa

announced that long-time residents of Zimbabwe of SADC

country origin were to be permitted Zimbabwe citizenship.)

The Bill also restricts voter education to the

president-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC).

Any foreign donations for the purpose of voter education must

go through the ESC.


——————————————— ——–


——————————————— ——–

10. (C) Parliamentary reforms continue to move forward

particularly in the committee system but in the House

attempts to derail the process continue. The most recent

being Chinamasa’s motion to suspend the Standing Order that

the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill go to a portfolio

committee for review. In this case, he also suspended the

Standing Order for the Bill to go to the PLC, which is

unconstitutional. On September 19, the Budget and Finance

Committee held a public hearing to discuss the Value Added

Tax Bill (VAT). The hearing was well attended with several

groups making presentations that raised issues if the VAT



11. (U) In late August, while Parliament was in recess, the

Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC) appointed new

chairs for three of the 16 committees. The Committee gave two

reasons for the reappointments: to appoint some women as

chairpersons and to replace poor performers. The SROC

changed chairpersonships of the Public Accounts; Justice; and

Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation committees.

Women will head two committees, up from none last year, and

the MDC five, the same as last year. MDC MP Priscilla

Misihairabwi will chair the Public Accounts Committee (PAC),

replacing Reuben Marumahoko who was promoted to Deputy

Minister of Energy and Power Development. The PAC is the

auditing committee and, in regional countries, the

chairpersonship is traditionally held by the opposition . In

exchange for this, the MDC had to give up the chair to the

Justice Committee. Former Youth Development, Gender and

Employment Creation Committee Chair ZANU-PF MP Shedreck

Chipanga will assume the position from David Coltart.

ZANU-PF MP Esther Nyauchi will be the new Youth Development,

Gender and Employment Creation Committee Chair.


12. (C) The SROC completed half of what they set out to do.

They appointed more women to committee chair but did not

replace the poor performers who never held meetings,

boycotted training sessions, didn’t seem to grasp their role,

or used their positions as a platform for partisan purposes.

On this last score, ZANU-PF MPs Chiyangwa, Chapfika, and

Kasukuwere were the primary culprits.





13. (C) The MDC has no well-defined agenda for this session.

Their role has been and will continue to be reactionary.

They will try to block legislation that they feel is

unconstitutional and will try to bolster the power of the

portfolio committees. MDC MPs will also continue to subject

Executive Branch actions to closer public scrutiny.




14. (C) ZANU-PF will most likely push the proposed

legislation through Parliament using parliamentary

manipulations the MDC can do little to counter. MDC walkouts

do not stop the legislative process; they just make it easier

for ZANU-PF to move bills through Parliament. As long as the

MDC can keep from losing seats to ZANU-PF in by-elections,

they will be able to prevent a constitutional amendment

changing the succession rules.




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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.


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