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Mugabe Agrees to Limit President's Power

Updated January 18, 2013, 3:50 p.m. ET


HARARE, Zimbabwe—President Robert Mugabe and his main rival agreed on the
shape of a new constitution in a deal that appears to reduce some of the
broad powers Mr. Mugabe has wielded as president and paves the way for
elections this year.

Mr. Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai—Mr. Mugabe's longtime political rival and
the prime minister in Zimbabwe's uneasy ruling coalition—agreed on the
outlines of the constitution after four years of bickering over its
contents. The constitutional negotiations, required by a bloc of regional
states following Zimbabwe's violent and inconclusive elections in 2008, had
broken down over disagreements on more than 30 clauses, including those
tempering presidential powers.

The agreements appear to be a major concession by Mr. Mugabe, who has ruled
the country with an increasing consolidation of power since independence
from Britain in 1980, with few judicial checks and the power to declare war
and dissolve parliament. As part of the deal, Mr. Mugabe agreed to have some
powers of the office stripped, Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric
Matinenga said Friday.

Mr. Matinenga didn't fully detail the proposed reduction in presidential
powers. But he said the new constitution introduces a constitutional court
and outlines an independent national prosecuting authority. Under the
document, the president won't have power to dissolve parliament, a body that
will be able to revoke the president's declaration of war, he said.

The constitution would also set term limits for the chiefs of the army,
police and intelligence services, posts that are currently held by Mugabe
loyalists, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The document must now be passed on to a parliamentary drafting committee,
which must incorporate the agreements into a consolidated draft. A
referendum on the charter could be held as early as April, a grouping of
human-rights organizations, the Crisis Coalition, said Friday.

Human-rights officials were cautiously optimistic. Mr. Mugabe could be eager
to burnish his legacy after turning from a hero of the independence war to a
widely loathed leader, said Pedzisai Ruhanya, director of the Zimbabwe
Democracy Institute, a pro-democracy organization.

"He is old," said Mr. Ruhanya. "This could be an attempt to rescue his
image, because he doesn't want to be remembered for a history of violence."

Still, he said, history has provided cause for skepticism.

"We have seen agreements being disregarded in the past," Mr. Ruhanya added.
"Zimbabwe's problem is not really about a bad constitution or bad laws. ...
We can have a perfect constitution, but the question is to what extent has
Mugabe and his party committed to the rule of law and respecting the charter
governing the country."

Mr. Mugabe has expressed surprise at such allegations. "We brought the rule
of law," he has said, referring to his leading role in ending colonial rule.

Mr. Mugabe's five-year term presiding over Zimbabwe's coalition government
officially ends in June. The former guerrilla leader, who turns 89 next
month, has already said he plans to run again. Last month, he gained the
nomination of his party, Zanu-PF, to contest the election. He had previously
threatened to unilaterally call elections in March "with or without a new

Mr. Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai have both said they are fed up with
the coalition government, whose bickering has rattled investors.

The date of elections under the new deal hasn't been announced. But Mr.
Mugabe said Thursday that the constitutional deal would pave the way for a
vote this year without fail and that he would consult his government
partners on election dates.

"We will make a proclamation as to the way forward, that is stipulating our
roadmap and state when the referendum will be held and indicate also when
our elections would be forthcoming," said Mr. Mugabe, flanked by Mr.
Tsvangirai and coalition partner Welshman Ncube.

The coalition government's formation in 2008 brought hope that the country's
freefalling economy would stabilize while investors would return.

But a survey released earlier this month by the World Bank ranking 185
economies on ease of doing business showed that Zimbabwe is among the least
favorable destinations for doing business.

According to the report, Zimbabwe ranked 172 out of 185 economies, slipping
two places from a report released the previous year.

A version of this article appeared January 19, 2013, on page A9 in the U.S.
edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Zimbabwe Deal Would
Limit PowerOf President.

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No Earth Shattering Changes To Draft Constitution: Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition

Harare, January 19, 2013 - Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition says there have been
no earth shattering changes to the draft constitution finalised by the
principals to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) on Thursday.

The organisation said this after meeting the Constitution Parliamentary
Select Committee (COPAC) co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora of the mainstream
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Friday.

The following is a full statement issued by Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe after
the meeting with Mwonzora entitled "How the constitution strings were
finally tied together:

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition met COPAC co-chairperson, Hon. Douglas
Mwonzora, who revealed the full details of the agreement reached to finalize
the COPAC Draft constitution at the Crisis Offices on Friday, January 18,

The meeting was attended by the Crisis Coalition Director McDonald Lewaneka
and Programs Manager Nixon Nyikadzino. Hon. Mwonzora apprised the Coalition’s
Officers on the agreement reached on the 7 key deadlock issues. The
agreements are contained in a signed Drafting Instruction which has been
given to the drafters who, the Co-Chair said, are now in the process of
finalizing the draft constitution. Hon. Mwonzora informed the meeting that
they expected the final version of the draft constitution to be out in a
week, and latest by end of January 2013, ready for presentation to
Parliament in February, with possibilities of a Referendum on the Draft
Constitution in April.

After the meeting, the interim assessment of the Coalition is that there
seems to have been no earth shuttering changes to the July 18 draft, and
that most accommodations made, were unfortunately accommodations meant to
allays political party fears rather than address the peoples aspirations.
The process, only has meaningful credence in as far as it allowed the out
puts of some fairly democratic discussions at the 2nd All Stakeholders
Conference to be discussed and incorporated into the final draft, albeit
with Politicians and Political party leaders as the final arbiters on the

The COPAC co-chair shared the following as the final agreements on the
deadlock issues (paraphrased), with the Coalitions interim comments where it
was felt necessary. Extensive comments will be sought from the Coalitions
members and Experts and released in due course.

1. Devolution:

All Clauses on devolution will be as in the COPAC draft constitution
released on July 18, 2012, with the changes being the following:

A preamble to explain what devolution does not incorporate or imply.
The office of Governor has been done away with to be replaced by a Head
of Provincial Council, who will be elected by the full council from the list
provided by a party with the majority in the council.


The provisions on devolution while short of what would have been ideal, are
welcome as a good platform to build on for the future. Better than other
more abstract concepts, which had been placed on the table like Delegation
and Decentralization. The absence of direct democracy in most of how this
devolved state is going to be put up, and the absence of a Provincial
Government still means that there are gaps, that were created as a result of
the compromises, but gaps, which may be lived with.

2. National Prosecuting Authority

There will be an Attorney General and a National Prosecuting Authority as in
the COPAC draft. The change is that the transitional provision will work for
six years instead of the previously proposed seven years.


The separation of these two functions is a welcome development. The only rub
here, has to do not with the provision but with personalities involved in
the offices during the Transitional period. The assumption, one would guess
is that the Current Attorney General will take up one of the office,
possibly the NPA leadership for the transitional period. Given reservations
around the partiality of the current office bearer this leaves a foul taste
in the mouth. However, the provision introduces a limit to the term of the
office bearer, which was not the case before.

3. National Peace and Reconciliation Commission

There will be a constitutional body for 10 years after which an Act of
Parliament may decide to perpetuate it. The difference is that the provision
in the draft Constitution of 18 July 2012 used the word “shall” instead of
“may.”, and the period for the existence of the constitutional body had been

4. Executive Authority

Executive authority will be vested in the President and he/she will exercise
it through Cabinet. The COPAC draft said the executive authority will be
vested in both President and Cabinet.

5. Land Commission

The commission will be an executive body which will be under the Minister
responsible for Lands, but in order to avoid executive arm twisting the
commissioners will have security of tenure. The commission will be empowered
to carry out the Land Audit to ensure the “one person one farm principle.”


In spite of the safeguards put in place, the commission would still have
been better off as an independent Constitutional Commission. The compromise
made is reflective not of best practice but the fears of some parties to the
state at the moment.

6. Running mate

The running mate provision will remain the same, but will be coupled with a
transitional provision that ensures that it will not be immediately
implemented, but will come into effect after five years.


The transitional provisions are a “get out of jail free card” for the
current political leaders, who will not have to deal with the messy issues
of succession in their parties at this stage in full view of the country’s

7. Constitutional Court

The constitutional court will remain part of the constitution and there will
be a transitional provision to have the Chief Justice Four Supreme Court and
three new judges sitting on the court for seven years.


The transitional arrangements here are also reflective of fears rather than
best practice. The inclusion of this court in the constitution would have
offered an opportunity for a fresh start with independent judges. Part of
the challenge of this provision will be the absence of a meaningful vetting
exercise that is backward looking to ensure that Judges to this court have
not been complicit in bastardising the constitution or engaged in some
dishonorable conduct while on the bench in the previous dispensation. The
absence of this vetting process will mean that it is possible for bad apples
from the past to be transported into the new dispensation. There is also the
challenge of ‘double dipping’ by some judges who will be on bother the
Supreme Court and Constitutional court benches.

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Constitution: What the parties agreed

Saturday, 19 January 2013 00:00

Felex Share Herald Reporter
ZIMBABWE will introduce the system of presidential running mates after 10
years if the draft Constitution agreed upon by political parties is adopted.
The 10 provincial governors would be

replaced by provincial chairpersons while the contentious issue of the
Attorney-General’s Office has been split to create two offices — the AG’s
Office and the Prosecuting Authority Office.

Explaining how contentious issues stalling the completion of a new supreme
law had been resolved yesterday, Copac co-chairperson Cde Munyaradzi Paul
Mangwana said there would be no running mates in Zimbabwe for the next 10
years from the date the new Constitution comes into effect.

Principals in the inclusive Government on Thursday resolved all outstanding
issues that were stalling the process.

Said Cde Mangwana: “On running mates, the parties resolved that they would
only be effected after 10 years from the day the new Constitution comes into

“Before those 10 years, if a presidential vacancy arises, the party of the
departed president will provide a successor within 90 days. After those 10
years, the issue of running mates will come into play.”

Cde Mangwana said provincial chairpersons would replace provincial
“We agreed that there will be no provincial governors with provincial
chairpersons coming into effect.
“The provincial chairperson will come from the party with majority seats in
that particular province. The chairperson will be elected by the provincial
council,” he said.

The AG’s Office would now have two main offices led by the AG and the
Prosecutor General.
“We split it into two and the Attorney-General will be the advisor to
Government. He will sit in Cabinet and the office of the prosecuting
authority will be led by the Prosecutor General,” he said.

To solve the contentious issue of devolution, the principals agreed that
they would have a preamble to explain devolution in a way that does not
bring divisionism and secession.

“We agreed to have a Reconciliation Commission only for 10 years, but after
that, it would be up to the Government of the day to put it through an Act
of Parliament if there is a need,” he said.
Cde Mangwana said no presidential powers had been whittled.

“The President retains his powers and on the issue we came with a clause
that stated that the executive powers of the Republic (of Zimbabwe) vests in
the President who, subject to this constitution, shall exercise the same
powers through his Cabinet.

“It means the President can exercise power on his own and sometimes does
that through his Cabinet. Nothing has been taken away from the President
because he is the one who appoints his Cabinet and can hire or fire a
Cabinet member anytime,” he said.

Addressing journalists in Harare on the contentious issues yesterday,
Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga concurred
with Cde Mangwana.

“We agreed because the President should exercise his power whether you like
it or not,” Minister Matinenga said.

“He has the power to declare war and peace because a certain country might
declare war against us when the Parliament is in recess and there would be
nothing to do.

“There should also be checks and balances on what the President does and
thus we agreed that there are instances where the President should not act
alone but should do so with the approval of a two thirds majority of

Minister Matinenga said the new constitution takes into account the “fears,
concerns and aspirations” of all the political parties.

“When solving an issue we looked at the fears of the parties and we tried to
come up with a situation that did not create losers or winners,” he said.

“Coming up with a people-driven constitution is a cliché touted at political
rallies because it was obvious that political parties were going to lead the

“What is important is that our constitution is primarily grounded on what
people said during the outreach programme.”

The Constitution-making process that was expected to take about 18 months
has taken over three years because of bickering among the political parties.

The latest differences arose after the production of the draft in July when
Zanu-PF argued that the document deviated from what people said during the
outreach programme as contained in the National Statistical Report.

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Zim Civic Society Hails Finalisation of Draft Constitution

Harare, January 19, 2013 - Zimbabwe's civic society now wants the unity
government to unveil an election calendar and whether the new draft
constitution meets the aspirations of the people.

This follows the finalisation on Thursday, of the draft constitution by the
Global Political Agreement (GPA) principals, paving way for fresh elections.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director McDonald Lewanika said:

“The progress made thus far is commendable, but time remains of the essence.
Fifty months, and $60 million dollars have been sunk into this process. Both
time and money are luxuries that the nation no longer has, and government
should immediately inform the people of a calendar detailing when certain
reforms will be made, and when the people will make their rendezvous with
the referendum and elections.”

Chairperson of the Women’s Coalition, Virginia Muwanigwa, said she was happy
the process had been concluded.

"We are not going to celebrate until we get the contents and analyse whether
it is in tandem with what we asked to be in the new constitution. We would
want to know the timelines of going to the referendum.”

Chairperson of National Association of Non-governmental Organisations
(Nango), Effie Ncube, agreed with Muwanigwa, saying: “The people of Zimbabwe
expect a new constitution to enable our elections to be consistent with
international standards."

The draft constitution is now set to be presented to Parliament for debate
before being subjected to a referendum according to Article VI of the GPA.

The finalisation of the draft constitution meets with expectations of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) which tasked South Africa
president Jacob Zuma to mediate in the political crisis of the country and
to ensure a constitutional process that leads to elections.

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UNWTO inspectors from Madrid not impressed with Zambia, Zim preps

January 19, 2013 | Filed under: Breaking News | Posted by: Mwansa

UNWTO inspectors from Madrid, Spain have just completed their mission to
check on the progress of the UNWTO preparations by Zambia and Zimbabwe. As
expected, they have gone away unhappy that things are not in place as they
were promised since their last visit.

Zambia and Zimbabwe are co-hosting the 20th UNWTO General Assembly from 24th
August to 29th August, 2013 in Livingstone and Victoria Falls towns. The
UNWTO general assembly rotates among its 180-member states every two years.
This is the second time the General Assembly is being hosted in Africa.
Senegal was the first African country to host the tourism event.

According to the inspectors, they have never experienced such unpreparedness
by the host nations at such a late hour. They have given the two countries
one more chance to put the house in order. They will be back soon to follow
up and if the homework is not properly executed, the 20th UNWTO General
Assembly will be moved to Madrid.

The inspectors have described the Victoria Falls – Livingstone co-host venue
as being the most attractive in comparison to all other previous host
venues. Successful co-hosting of the event will tremendously impact on the
promotion of tourism to the destination. This will result in increased
publicity and tourist arrivals in the region.

From the start, the preparations have not run smoothly. Zimbabwe referred
to Zambia as falling asleep and changing the Ministers and Permanent
secretaries too often within a short time. This resulted in the then
Permanent Secretary of Tourism Dr Sylvester Maunganidze being relieved of
his position. Below was his statement to Zimbabwe Parliaments Natural
Resources, Environment and Tourism portfolio on 17th July, 2012:

HARARE – Governance issues in Zambia are affecting smooth preparation of the
20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)
General Assembly which the country co-host next year with Zimbabwe, Tourism
secretary Sylvester Maunganidze said.

He told parliament’s Natural Resources Environment and Tourism portfolio
committee Zambia had changed tourism secretaries and ministers at least four
times since August last year (2011), making planning between the two host
nations difficult.

“It has not been easy to prepare to co-host, I just wanted you to know that
between August last year when we went to bid in Madrid and now I have worked
with four counterparts.

“Four permanent secretaries and four different ministers”, he said, adding
that Zambia has changed its tourism official every two months.

Right now, Maunganidze said, Zambia has no secretary for tourism and is
expected to appoint one on Wednesday.

This is despite the fact that the countries are supposed to meet monthly to
present progress reports and come up with a common vision ahead of the
Zimbabwe is supposed to visit Zambia this week for the routine joint
consultative meeting.
“We have not been able to do anything meaningful with our counterparts
because there have been changes every two months,” Maunganidze said.
“You should appreciate that if there are certain things that do not happen
it is because we have a Siamese twin who is handicapped across the river and
unfortunately we breathe the same oxygen,’ he added.
“I don’t want to say we had wished we were doing it on our own but at this
late hour I feel we would have done better.”

According to the inspectors, it is very clear that there is no coordination
between the two countries. Also the promised infrastructure will not happen
before the congress date.

A visit to Livingstone town is a shock to those that would have come with
high anticipation of witnessing the hype of preparations. The only signs of
the preparations are the trees planted on the Mosi-Oa-Tunya road islands and
the demolished town market normally referred to as Zimbabwe market. The 40
km road contract is awarded to one contractor who has not even received the
25% deposit for the works.

Street vending is still a challenge. The town still looks a mess with the
tourists introduced to women selling veggies in a dirty environment upon
entry into town from the airport.

The status is unlikely to improve with the suspension of the council and the
shifting of the provincial administration to Choma.

The Southern Province Permanent Secretary is the chairman for the Local
Organising Committee. Since the appointment of the Committee by Cabinet
Office early November, 2012, not a single meeting has taken place. It is
unlikely that the situation will improve when he will be operating from

The frenzy that came with the winning of the bid has died as not many people
are aware of what is going on. People are wondering where all the money
allocated for the preparations is going as programs put in place are not all
being implemented.

If things do not happen, it is because we have incompetent people in the
government who are only interested in making money for themselves and have
no passion for tourism at all.

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Floods, lightning claim 124 lives
Floods, lightning claim 124 lives

Floods, lightning claim 124 lives

In Beitbridge district, the rains have caused widespread damage to roads leaving some areas impassable. The Civil Protection Unit yesterday said major rivers in Gokwe such as Ume, Sesame and Sengwa were in flood. Several people were reportedly marooned on some of them.

It urged people in the areas to desist from water-related activities along the rivers.

“Gwayi River and its tributaries in Tsholotsho are in flood. The Tamuhla community is likely to be marooned if the rains continue. We advise them to monitor the river flow,” the department said.

“Several homesteads in Tsholotsho (180 to date) have succumbed to excessive moisture and have collapsed and some families have been left homeless as a result. It is advised that communities monitor their houses to prevent injury and loss of life from collapsing structures.”

According to police, most of the victims drowned after attempting to cross flooded rivers. Others have had vehicles they were travelling in swept away in flooded rivers and bridges. Police spokesperson Superintendent Andrew Phiri said the incidents were recorded between September 1 and Wednesday.

Beitbridge Medecins Sans Frontieres project co-ordinator Ms Hanna Majanen, DDF co-ordinator Mr Tinashe Ngundu, acting DA Mr Kiliboni Ndou and Tshikwalakwala village head Mr Willie Hlongwane assess water levels in Bubi River yesterday

Beitbridge Medecins Sans Frontieres project co-ordinator Ms Hanna Majanen, DDF co-ordinator Mr Tinashe Ngundu, acting DA Mr Kiliboni Ndou and Tshikwalakwala village head Mr Willie Hlongwane assess water levels in Bubi River yesterday

He said Manicaland and Masvingo provinces recorded the highest number of casualties through drowning with 18 and 13 respectively. “Bulawayo had the lowest number with one person having drowned,” he said.

He said Masvingo had the highest numbers of 12 people struck by lightning followed by Midlands with 11. No such cases were recorded in the other provinces. Supt Phiri discouraged the public from crossing or encouraging drivers to cross flooded rivers and bridges.

He said motorists in cities should drive cautiously since most of the pot holes would be filled with water and this might cause accidents. Four more people, including the driver, drowned when a Mercedes Benz they were travelling in was swept away at a flooded river bridge in Chiredzi on Wednesday.

This brought the total number to 14 people who drowned when their vehicles were swept away at flooded rivers and bridges in separate incidents this month. The incident occurred at around 8pm.

There were several cars queuing at the flooded river but the driver of the Mercedes Benz overtook before plunging into the bridge. Ten people had drowned when vehicles they were travelling in were swept away by flooded rivers and bridges in separate incidents by last week.

In Beitbridge, roads including those linking Tshikwalakwala, Chabili, Masera, Shashe and Swereki with Beitbridge town were destroyed by the heavy rains. This emerged during a tour by the Beitbridge Civil Protection Unit to assess the flood situation in low-lying areas around the district.

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Minister agrees to meet civil servants

Saturday, 19 January 2013 00:00

Felex Share Herald Reporter
The Minister of Public Service has finally agreed to meet civil servants’

unions and give them an update on their salaries and working conditions.
The minister had been avoiding the workers for the whole of last year
arguing the Apex Council — a body that represents Government employees — was
not properly constituted.

In a letter addressed to the civil servants’ union leaders, Minister Lucia
Matibenga said she would meet the workers next Thursday.

“I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated January 16, 2013 in which you
are requesting for a consultative meeting with me on Tuesday 22 January,

“Please be advised that I will be occupied with Cabinet business on the
proposed date. I will be able to meet with you on Thursday January 24, 2013
at Kaguvi boardroom at 14:40hours,” read the letter.
The workers earlier this week wrote to the minister requesting for the

Apex council chairperson Mr David Dzatsunga yesterday said the workers
needed an explanation on why Government failed to effect the increase it
promised to award the workers this month.

Government promised to effect a 5,5 percent inflation-related increment on
the workers’ salaries this month but failed.

“This is good news and we will know how to move forward because for the
whole of last year, we did not meet any Government official over the issue
of salaries,” Mr Dzatsunga said.

“What we need is the Government’s position on salaries and working
conditions because our members are in the dark at the moment. They were
expecting an increase, which they never saw.”
Government has been mum over the issue insisting that the Apex Council was
not properly constituted and there was no one to hold salary negotiations

The term of office of the old committee, led by Zimta president Mrs Tendai
Chikowore, expired in February last year.

The unions held elections that brought in the Dzatsunga-led executive.
However, the elections were dismissed as “unconstitutional” by the Public
Service Association, a union that represents most of the workers who are not
in the education sector.

Since then the unions have been embroiled in a leadership wrangle that saw
negotiations with Government collapsing.

Because of the wrangles unions were now meeting Government separately.
The lowest-paid Government employee is getting US$296 per month while the
poverty datum line is over US$600.

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Most sitting MPs on way out

By Clemence Manyukwe, 21 hours 35 minutes ago

A NUMBER of bigwigs from both ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) formations could be on their way out of the legislative assembly and
government following the emergence of intense jockeying for parliamentary
seats, especially from the so-called young Turks.
Competition for the right to represent the two main parties, ZANU-PF and the
MDC-T, has already started even though both parties are still to come up
with dates for primary polls.
The jockeying is more intense in ZANU-PF where the leadership is under
pressure, including from the military and the war veterans, to rejuvenate
the party and improve its electoral chances after nearly losing power in
2008 to the MDC-T.
For long, ZANU-PF’s old guard has maintained a monopoly as office bearers at
various levels, but rising unpopularity marked by its first ever loss of its
majority in Parliament five years ago came as a wake-up call.
The performance of young Turks appointed to government in 2009 has however,
given hope that the injection of new blood could help the party appeal to
new voters.
More and more, these young Turks in Cabinet are being strategically elevated
to complement President Robert Mugabe as the face of the party during
Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere,
even though unpopular in some circles, has become the face of the party’s
new revolution, the empowerment drive, placing him high up in the
propagation of ZANU-PF’s agenda.
Tourism and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi is also at the forefront of
efforts to rebrand the country, giving hope to the party’s young Turks,
especially the moderates.
The party’s heavyweights face double trouble: They must face young
candidates during primary polls and those that will survive the onslaught
will have to fight for a place in Cabinet should the party win.
The majority of the current crop of ZANU-PF ministers has served since 1980
with President Mugabe increasingly criticising some of them as dead wood and
In Manicaland, it is understood that the party’s secretary for
administration Didymus Mutasa’s Headlands seat is being eyed by Chris
Chingosho, a top civil servant, while in Mutare west, Manicaland Governor
and Resident Minister Chris Mushohwe is expected to be challenged by
businessman and former Air Zimbabwe board chairperson, Jonathan Kadzura.
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa is expected to square
off with Agricultural Rural Development Authority chairperson Basil
Nyabadza. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister
Joseph Made is expected to face a top Air Force of Zimbabwe female officer
only identified as Makuyahundi.
Signalling the shifting political winds, some children of the party’s
leading nationalists would be entering the political fray this year, with
hopes of greater roles and carrying the torch forward.
The son of the late national hero Eddison Zvobgo, Eddison Zvobgo Jr, a
lawyer, is interested in the Masvingo central seat currently held by the
MDC-T's Tongai Matutu, who is also the Deputy Minister for Youth,
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment.
The late vice president Simon Muzenda’s son Tongai is gunning for a seat in
Gutu. Zimpapers chairperson and medical doctor, Paul Chimedza is also
positioning himself for a seat in Gutu.
During the 2008 synchronised elections, Chimedza’s parliamentary ambitions
were thwarted after a seat that he was eyeing was reserved for a female
candidate. Another lawyer, Ted Muzorodze is eyeing Masvingo West as is the
case with a businessman identified only as Mumbire.
Mzembi’s Masvingo south seat is also being eyed by a Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) operative from Manicaland whose identity could not be
immediately verified.
Other young Turks with parliamentary ambitions in Masvingo province include
Edmund Mhere and former ZIFA chief executive, Henrietta Rushwaya.
A clash of the titans is also expected between Josiah Hungwe and Samuel
In Mashonaland East, leading lawyer Jonathan Samkange is considering running
for Parliament to give the party more experts in the legal field.
In Mashonaland West, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo is battling
stiff challenge from businessman Edwin Matibiri in Zvimba North.
Also in Mashonaland West another young Turk Temba Mliswa, the chairman of an
empowerment pressure group, the Zimbabwe Economic and Empowerment Council is
eying Hurungwe while President Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao is facing a
stiff challenge from CIO operative Francis Mukwangwariwa in Zvimba East.
More surprises are said to be in store once the party has officially
announced dates for the primary elections.
In Harare province, a number of the party’s young Turks and some ambitious
youths are lining up for some seats in the capital city.
Coxwell Chigwana, an officer in the President’s Office, is likely to replace
Amos Midzi as a candidate for Epworth. It has been suggested that Midzi
could get a diplomatic posting to Indonesia.
Danny Masukuma, a ZANU-PF activist who recently filed a court challenge
against the current constitutional process, wants to contest in Hatfield
while Tongai Nheta, the ZANU-PF youth secretary for Harare is alleged to be
keen on contesting in Warren Park.
Jimmy Kunaka, the controversial provincial youth leader, is said to be
eyeing Mbare constituency where he lost in 2008 when he stood as a council
Goodwills Masimirembwa, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation, which holds much of the Marange diamond claims, is eyeing the
Tafara/Mabvuku constituency while Antony Jongwe, a human resources
practitioner, is expected to contest in Kuwadzana.
In the three Matabeleland provinces there are also moves to remove
“deadwood” as ZANU-PF’s man of the moment in the provinces, Obert Mpofu,
the Minister of Mines and Mining Development crisis-crosses the region
identifying new blood for the party.
It is understood Mpofu has lined up young Turks to challenge MDC candidates
particularly in Matabeleland North, his home province.
Bulawayo is proving to be a headache for ZANU-PF with young Turks finding it
extremely difficult to challenge the old guard, especially members of the
old ZAPU who joined ZANU-PF after the consummation of the Unity Accord in
Mutasa told The Financial Gazette last week that his party will definitely
win the next elections.
“ZANU-PF will continue ruling this country. We are going to win,” he said.
Bigwigs in the MDC-T are also under pressure hence frantic efforts to push
through a confirmation process that insulates them from competition. The
process has widely been condemned as undemocratic since it protects some
incompetent, long-serving members.
The MDC-T Youth Assembly has categorically stated it wants at least 30
percent representation in the new Parliament.
The assembly’s president, Solomon Madzore has thrown his hat into the ring
and intends wrestling the Dzivaresekwa seat from incumbent, Heneri
Dzinotyiweyi, the Minister of Science and Technology.
Gift Chimanikire, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, faces
a challenge in Southerton from Emmanuel Chimwanda, a former police
There is also disgruntlement over the leadership of the MDC-T party in the
three Matabeleland provinces where Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe is
said to be under fire over the violence which rocked the party in the region
ahead of the party’s congress three years ago.
Gorden Moyo, the Bulawayo provincial chairperson, is also said to be facing
his waterloo in the primaries. He is a non-constituency legislator in the
coalition government.
There is also tussling for positions even among the small fish.
Councillors want to topple sitting legislators in most constituencies under
the MDC-T ticket. For instance, in Pumula, Artwell Sibanda, an MDC-T
activist and aide to the Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo, intends
wrestling the seat from incumbent, Albert Mhlanga. - Financial Gazette
The Welshman Ncube-led MDC has kept its cards close to the chest but
indications are that sitting legislators and appointees such as secretary
general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga would not be contested during
primary elections. The party is due to open nominations for primary election
candidates before the end of this week. - Fingaz

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Smaller MDC Faction Invites Applications For Election Candidates

Bulawayo, January 19, 2013 - The smaller faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) led by Professor Welshman Ncube has officially
invited applications for prospective candidates for the anticipated 2013
harmonised general elections.

MDC Secretary General Priscilla Misihairabwi –Mushonga, in a circular
released recently, said that the applications of prospective candidates must
be submitted to the provincial chairpersons no later than February 14.

This follows finalisation of the draft constitution on Thursday by the
principals of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

President Robert Mugabe (88), who has led Zimbabwe since independence in
1980, is set to contest the elections as the Zanu (PF) candidate.

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‘I Am Strong And will Not Be Defeated’: Zimrights Director

Harare, January 19, 2013 - Detained Zimrights director, Okay Machisa, said
on Friday he will remain strong despite his lock up in remand prison on
charges of publishing false statements prejudicial to the State, fraud and
forgery after allegedly conducting an illegal voter registration.

“I am strong, and will not be defeated by what I am going through," he told
Zimbabwe Coalition Crisis which was among scores of visitors who visited
Machisa at the cramped Harare remand prison.

"I know everything will be okay, because I actually do not know what we are
supposed to have done wrong, and have already informed both the police, and
the courts that ZimRights was not party to anything that is not part of its

Remand Prison was a hive of activity by visitors who wanted to see Machisa
who is also chairperson of Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition as well as ZimRights
Education Programmes Manager, Leo Chamahwinya.

Chamahwinya was arrested together with ZimRights Local Chapter Chairperson,
Dorcas Shereni last December while Machisa handed himself to police this
week. The three were this week remanded to January 30 on the same charges.

Shereni is remanded at a separate prison, Chikurubi maximum for female

However, visitors had to be turned away, as Chamahwinya and Machisa, asked
not to see any more visitors because their legs were hurting from the
uncomfortable leg irons as they were being moved up and down between their
cells and the visiting area.

The over 20 people who had gone to remand Prison to visit the ZimRights
team, had to petition the Officer in Charge at the Prison to be allowed to
see the two, but the petition was unsuccessful, as the Member in Charge said
he had to have special clearance from Head Office to allow group visits.

A human rights activist, Abel Chikomo, who was one of the four who saw
Machisa, thanked his colleagues in civil society locally and internationally
for the solidarity, and urged members of ZimRights to continue with their
work, and sleep easy in the knowledge that right was on their side,.

He said the institution was not guilty of any wrong doing. Chikomo who had
handed in the petition signed by 57 organisations, was accompanied by
Professor Lovemore Madhuku (NCA), Irene Petras and s Rose Hanzi, both of the
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Others who visited Machisa but were unable to see him included Cythia
Manjoro, Nomalanga Masaire, veteran Human Rights Defender Tony Releer, NCA
Spokesperson Madock Chivasa, Crisis Director McDonald Lewanika, Media
Alliance of Zimbabwe Director Patience Zirima, Crisis staffers Nixon
Nyikadzino and Memory Kadua as well as ZIMCET Director Gladys Hlatywayo.

The petition highlighted that the targeting of NGOs was indicative of the
closing of democratic and electoral space ahead of elections, saying that it
seemed that all NGO’s dealing with election related matters would be

The International Groups that have so far spoken out against the ZimRights
targeting include Amnesty International, Robert F. Kennedy Foundation,
Zimbabwe Europe Network, Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum, Action Support Centre,
Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) of the UK, Afrika Kontakt of Denmark,
CCFD of France and Ecumenical Service on Southern Africa (KASA) of Germany.

Machisa and Chamahwinya were not the only ones complaining of hurting limbs
at the prison, as the Prison Guards were also heard saying:

“Our hands are now painful from writing Machisa, Machisa, Chamahwinya,

The UN also condemned the attacks on human rights defenders.

"We condemn recent attacks against human rights defenders in Zimbabwe,
including arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment."

"We are concerned about the crackdown on non-governmental organisations and
dissenting voices seen as critical of President Robert Mugabe's rule and
apparently politically motivated prosecutions, ahead of the elections which
are expected to take place later this year."

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Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Surpasses 2012 Targets

Gibbs Dube

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) says it exceeded its revenue target
in 2012 despite the slow pace of economic growth in the country last year.

In a statement, ZIMRA said net tax collections amounted to $3.3 billion
against a target of $3.2 billion.

ZIMRA board chairman Sternford Moyo attributed the “sterling performance to
the authority’s hard work” and effective revenue enhancing projects which
were aimed at enforcing compliance by clients.

Value-added tax accounted for the largest chunk of tax collections followed
by individual and company tax. Mining royalties brought in only $136 million

ZIMRA said the gross tax inflows exceeded the 2011 target by 7 percent

Economist Rejoice Ngwenya of the Liberal Market Solutions said low revenue
inflows from the mining sector are worrying.

“The current collections from this sector are being impeded by President
Robert Mugabe’s arm of the government which is controlling mines and mining
development,” said Ngwenya.

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CHRA in solidarity with Zimrights leadership



The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) condemns the continued
arrests of Human rights defenders in the strongest terms.

This has come in the wake of the recent arrest of Zimrights’ Director, Mr
Okay Machisa and the deputy programs coordinator, Mr Leo Chamahwinya on
trumped up charges that include conspiracy to commit fraud, forgery and
publishing falsehoods. The Harare Magistrates Court on Wednesday 16 January
2013 remanded Machisa in custody up to 30 January where whilst Leo has been
languishing in prison during the whole festive season to date.

The recent arrests come at a time when four remaining M.D.C-T activists have
completed another year in prison despite lack of evidence to show that they
killed a policeman in 2011. The state seems to be sending a message to all
the progressive forces as we head for the referendum and subsequently
watershed elections which should bring to a halt the shaky coalition

The CHRA detests and is appalled by this apparent criminalization of
legitimate civic society work that we have been engaged in since time
immemorial. We are cognizant of the fact that some political players are not
comfortable with the rate at which people are registering to vote hence the
onslaught on the Zimrights group.

CHRA will continue to fight for the democratization of local governance and
demanding good governance at all levels. The principals to the inclusive
government must put a stop to all these arrests and naked violation of
fundamental freedoms. We challenge Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,
President Robert Mugabe and Professor Welshman Ncube to come out clean to
the people of Zimbabwe with regards their stance on these unlawful
detentions and arrests that continue to haunt our work. We maintain as an
Association that we will not cow down to dirty and unlawful scare tactics by
the state.

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Shoot to kill

January 18, 2013, 11:28 pm
The ZRP said last week that they now have orders to ‘shoot and kill robbers
and car jackers’; we were not told where the orders came from but we can
assume they came from the man at the top of the police, Augustine Chihuri, a
self-confessed Zanu PF supporter. The promise – or was it a threat – was
made at the memorial service for a policeman who had been shot by a car
jacker. The Officer commanding CID, Assistant Commisssioner Simon Nyati told
criminals that they could expect “the full wrath of the law.” No doubt,
there will be some Zimbabweans who applaud Assistant Commissioner Nyati’s
words, believing that they can now sleep safer in their beds knowing that
the police are out there shooting robbers and car jackers. They will argue
‘if you have done nothing wrong then you have nothing to fear’. Others may
think, as I do, that the Assistant Commissioner’s words have little to do
with the rule of law but rather more with revenge in retaliation for yet
another murdered policeman. That is understandable in human terms but
vengeance is nothing to do with justice and it is a frightening sign of the
way things are going in Zimbabwe. By ‘shooting to kill’ the police are going
far beyond their remit which is to protect the citizens and to ensure that
law is upheld. Criminals do not cease to be citizens and like other
citizens, if they commit a crime they should be arrested, charged and
brought before the courts. It is not the job of the police to determine
guilt and inflict instant justice. That sort of ‘wild west’ justice has no
place in a modern democratic state. It is the work of a court of law not the
police to determine innocence or guilt according to the evidence.

No one can deny that the police have lost many brave officers killed in
the course of their duties. There have been four such deaths in the last two
years as Assistant Commissioner reminded the congregation at the memorial
service, adding that it was only last year when Inspector Petros Mutedza
was “killed by hooligans in Glen View”; those suspected ‘hooligans’ are
still in prison having been refused bail.

This week, the police shot and killed a suspected ‘cop killer’ in Mount
Darwin. The deceased, himself an ex-policeman, was armed and firing at the
arresting team. Since they were themselves being fired at, the police were
perfectly justified in firing back; police regulations clearly allow them to
defend themselves. But that is not the issue here. This is about the police
determining guilt before a trial has taken place. Those 29 people arrested
for Inspector Mutedza’s murder were arrested because, from the police
viewpoint, they belonged to the ‘wrong’ party. The fact that no shots were
fired does not excuse the overtly partisan stance of the police It is the
Police Commissioner himself who has turned this whole issue into a party
political matter by openly declaring his support for Robert Mugabe and Zanu
PF. The consequence is selective application of the law whereby every member
of the MDC picked up by the police is deemed to be guilty because of his
political allegiance. The spate of recent cases against human rights workers
“has all the signs of being a politically motivated crackdown” as the
Amnesty International Deputy Director commented recently. When a politically
partisan police chief states that his officers have orders to ‘shoot and
kill’, it is not only criminals who should fear; innocent citizens, too, are
in danger of the trigger-happy policeman who equates political allegiance
with criminal intent. With the police claiming the right to kill and the
army terrorising villagers around the country, who will protect innocent

Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson.

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Tough luck

Dear Family and Friends,
Zimbabwe’s 78 year old Vice President John Nkomo died of cancer this
week. He was the fourth Zimbabwean Vice President to die in office
after Joshua Nkomo aged 82 in 1999, Simon Muzenda aged 80 in 2003 and
Joseph Msika aged 85 who died in 2009.

It was ironic that in the same week that Vice President Nkomo died
whilst occupying the second most powerful position in the country, our
Prime Minister made headlines by saying that Zimbabweans would soon
start receiving free treatment for cancer. Free treatment for cancer
– our eyebrows went up, we are country that can’t even feed
ourselves. A country which is looking to the UN to give free emergency
food aid to 1.6 million Zimbabweans in the next few months.

Speaking at the funeral of University Professor Gordon Chavhunduka who
died of throat cancer, Prime Minister Tsvangirai said that there had
been a cabinet decision taken to establish two centres for the early
detection of cancer and people would be given free treatment.

Meanwhile closer to home a friend complained of a very stiff neck,
shoulders and lower back. He had woken up in the morning with
excruciating pain and found his lower lip bleeding and covered in raw
wounds. A couple of days later, with the pain persisting, he went to
the provincial government hospital. He is a known epileptic and
entitled to receive free medication for epilepsy when he attends the
outpatients clinic once a month. From 2005 to 2009 when the country
was ravaged by multi-billion percent inflation, the government
hospital could not supply the epilepsy drugs and he had to source them
elsewhere and find the money to pay for them. Those were desperate
times for everyone on all sorts of life sustaining medication,
pharmacies everywhere were empty and everyone had to find friends or
relations outside the country who could help. Prescriptions went
across borders, drugs were collected by strangers in other countries,
emergency packages travelled thousands of kilometres and were
delivered by unknown legions of nameless volunteers who literally
saved people’s lives.

For a couple of years after Zimbabwe’s politicians were forced to
share power, the situation got easier, supplies in hospitals improved
and the drugs were dispensed for free every month but for the last
nine months things have inexplicably changed. Quietly and without any
outcry from anyone in our bloated, double-sized power sharing
government, things have started slipping backwards. Every month the
pharmacy at the government hospital say they don’t have the epilepsy
drugs and lines of outpatients are turned away, told to go and buy the
drugs themselves at private pharmacies and its tough luck if they
can’t afford them.

Nurses in the outpatients department gathered around my friend with
the neck and back ache and bleeding mouth to see for themselves what
happens when you don’t take the medication. They asked him if he had
been buying and taking his tablets regularly. They said it looked like
he had had an epileptic fit while he had been asleep, had bitten his
lip and hurt his neck and back whilst shaking with spasms. Writing in
his mandatory little exercise book they renewed the prescriptions for
the two drugs he should take for his epilepsy and added an anti
inflammatory for the neck and back pain. The outpatients pharmacy had
no drugs in stock and there was no queue at the main hospital pharmacy
but he went there anyway. A cursory glance at the names of the three
common drugs that had been prescribed and the exercise book was handed
back: sorry nothing here, go and buy them in town. Young or old, no
exceptions, no one to turn to and just despair at a time when the
government talks about giving free cancer treatment and yet can’t
even supply basic life saving medicines. Until next time, thanks for
reading, love cathy.

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BILL WATCH 2/2013 of 18th January [Private Members Bills]


[18th January 2013]

Both Houses of Parliament have Adjourned until Tuesday 5th February

Private Members’ Bills

Three Private Member’s Bills featured in the last Session of Parliament, but not one of them completed its passage through Parliament. At the end of a session uncompleted Bills and motions lapse and are dropped from the Order Paper, but can be restored by a resolution of the House concerned. These three items have not been reinstated since the beginning of the current Session – the present Parliament’s fifth and last – on 30th October 2012.

The three Bills are:

· Public Order and Security [POSA] Amendment Bill The House of Assembly approved a motion by Hon. Innocent Gonese, MDC-T Chief Whip, for leave to introduce this Bill, amending POSA to make the police more accountable, in November 2009. Its First Reading took place on 2nd February 2010 and it was eventually passed by the House of Assembly on 8th December 2010 and sent to the Senate the same day. [Bill as passed by the House of Assembly available from] In the Senate, the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs insisted that it would be wrong for the Senate to continue with the Bill when POSA reform was an item under negotiation by the GPA parties as part of the Roadmap to Elections. Mr Gonese agreed that the debate be adjourned, but emphasised that the Bill was not being withdrawn. It lapsed at the end of the Third Session in September 2011. In the Fourth Session Mr Gonese tabled a motion in the Senate to restore his motion to the Order Paper, but it was still not dealt with, and the motion lapsed when that Session ended in October 2012.

Comment There are constitutional provisions that cover the situation where the Senate, as in this case, has over a long period failed to pass a Bill already passed by the House of Assembly. Perhaps the time has come for Mr Gonese to invoke these provisions. Paragraph 3 of Schedule 4 to the Constitution [as amended by Constitution Amendment No. 19] states that if a Bill that originated in the House of Assembly has not been passed by the Senate before the expiration of a period of 90 days beginning on the day it was introduced into the Senate, the Bill may be presented to the President for signing into law in the form in which it was passed by the House of Assembly. [Note: There are exceptions to this special procedure – for instance, it does not apply to constitutional Bills – but these exceptions do not apply to the POSA Amendment Bill.] As the Senate has delayed this Bill for well over 90 days, the House of Assembly can pass a resolution to send the Bill directly to the President for his assent and if he assents it will become law without the Senate’s approval. All Mr Gonese needs to do is get an appropriate resolution approved by the House of Assembly. His party has the necessary votes [see Bill Watch 2/2013 of 14th January for voting strengths]. The President could refuse to sign it, but this would send a definite obstructionist signal to SADC instead of the current obfuscation by interminable delays.

· Criminal Procedure and Evidence [CPE] Amendment Bill aims to repeal section 121(3) of the CPE Act, the controversial provision which allows prosecutors to stall the release of accused persons granted bail by magistrates. [Bill available from] Mr Gonese proposed his motion for leave to introduce this Bill in March 2012, but no decision was taken before the end of the last Session. Mr Gonese has already tabled a motion to restore this motion to the Order Paper and it is on the agenda for 5th February. [See Court Watch 8/2012 of 25th April 2012 for details on section 121(3 )and its misuse by the State.]

· Urban Councils Amendment The main purpose of this Bill is to curb the powers of the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development to intervene in local council affairs. [Bill available from] MDC-T MP Tangwara Matimba obtained the leave of the House of Assembly to introduce it in October 2011, and duly introduced it in February 2012. After it had been cleared by the PLC, Mr Matimba delivered his Second Reading speech on 14th May. The next day debate was brought to a halt by the Speaker as a result of court proceedings instituted a few days earlier at the prompting of ZANU-PF. What happened was as follows.

Chombo Court Case Against Urban Councils Amendment Bill

Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Dr Ignatious Chombo lodged papers in the Supreme Court asking for an order stopping the House from proceeding on the Urban Councils Amendment Bill. He based his application on his argument that, for the duration of the GPA, Article 20 of the GPA, as incorporated by Constitution Amendment No. 19 into Schedule 8 to the Constitution, implicitly imposes a temporary suspension on the introduction of Private Member’s Bills. The Minister has raised this argument notwithstanding the longstanding constitutional right in Schedule 4, paragraph 1(3) of the Constitution, which explicitly states that that “any member (of Parliament) ... may (subject to Parliamentary Standing Orders) introduce any Bill”. [For the Minister's arguments and legal opinions against these arguments see Bill Watch 20 and 21/2012 of 15th May 2012.]

The Supreme Court will hear legal argument on Dr Chombo’s application on Thursday 24th January. The application is opposed by the proposer and seconder of the Urban Councils Amendment Bill and Parliament’s presiding officers. A decision before Parliament resumes sitting on 5th February is possible, if unlikely.

Speaker’s Ruling: Urban Councils Amendment Bill Sub Judice

The Speaker of the House of Assembly suspended debate on the Bill on 15th May 2012 in terms of Standing Order 62(d). This Standing Order sets out what is familiarly known as the sub judice rule in these words: “No member shall, while speaking to a question ... refer to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending.” The Speaker ruled as follows: following the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development’s decision to approach the Supreme Court regarding the proposed amendment of the Urban Councils Act, debate stands suspended in terms of Standing Order 62(d) until a judicial decision on the matter has been made.”

There were alternative strategies that could have been pursued instead of stopping proceedings on the Bill:

1. The Speaker could have ruled that a sub judice ruling was premature, because all that had happened was that a court application had been lodged. This would have been in line with his previous ruling in the Zvoma case where he said the mere lodging of a court case was not sufficient to activate the sub judice rule; it was necessary for the case to have progressed to the later stage where the court was considering its decision. [See Bill Watch 21/2012 of 15th May 2012.]

2. The Speaker could have said that debate could proceed for the time being on the policy pros and cons of the Bill, because that could be done without MPs referring to the real issue raised by the Minister for the Supreme Court’s decision – the technical constitutional point, which has nothing to do with the contents of the Bill. That would have avoided the danger of undesirable confrontation between legislature and judiciary over that issue. After all, the point of the sub judice rule is to avoid statements in Parliament that might be seen as interference with the judicial process.

3. The House of Assembly could have circumvented the problem by voting for a resolution suspending the Standing Order and allowing debate on the Bill to continue. The House can, in terms of Standing Order 196, do this with any Standing Order; and has frequently done so in the past, e.g. when “fast-tracking” Bills. This could still be done, but would have to be initiated by an MP raising such a motion to be put to a vote in the House.

After the Speaker’s ruling there were no further proceedings on the Urban Councils Amendment Bill.

An indirect practical result of the ruling seems to have been a “hands-off” attitude towards other two Private Member’s Bills as well, even though they are not mentioned in the ruling.

Regrettable Delay in Hearing the Case

It is regrettable that the case was not dealt with more urgently, bearing in mind that important issues are at stake:

· the obvious undesirability of premature judicial involvement in Parliamentary business, which not only disrupts the work of Parliament but also undermines the long-standing general constitutional principle that the right time to challenge legislation in the courts is after it has been passed by Parliament and gazetted – not when it is still before Parliament and it is not known whether or not it will even be passed.

· the strong arguments for the view that Private Member’s Bills are integral to the successful working of a Parliamentary democracy [see below].

Private Member’s Bills Integral to Parliamentary Democracy?

The Constitutional Court of South Africa has stressed the importance of Private Member’s Bills. In October 2012, the SA Constitutional Court gave its ruling in the case of Oriani-Ambrosini v Sisulu, Speaker of the National Assembly, in which the validity of a rule of the National Assembly which required members to secure “permission” before they could introduce Bills in the Assembly was considered.

The court held, by an 8-2 majority, that the rule was unconstitutional, in that it restricted the right of private members from minority parties to get their proposals for legislation considered by Parliament. It said:

“The very nature and composition of the National Assembly renders it pre-eminently suited to fulfil the role of a national forum at which even individual members may initiate, prepare and present legislative proposals to be considered publicly by all the representatives of the people present in the Assembly.

“The power of an individual member of the Assembly to introduce a Bill, particularly those from the ranks of opposition parties, is more than ceremonial in its significance. It gives them the opportunity to go beyond merely opposing, to proposing constructively, in a national forum, another way of doing things. It serves as an avenue for articulating positions, through public debate and consideration of alternative proposals, on how a particular issue can be addressed or regulated differently and, arguably, better.

By its very nature, representative and participatory democracy requires that a genuine platform be created, even for members of minority parties in the Assembly, to give practical expression to the aspirations of their constituencies by playing a more meaningful role in the lawmaking processes.”

Comment: The South African court’s observations on the fundamental constitutional importance of Private Member’s Bills will be relevant when the merits of the Chombo case are considered by our Supreme Court judges.

New Private Member’s Bill to Tackle Media Reform?

MDC-T MP Settlement Chikwinya has announced his intention to bring up a Press Freedom and Transparency Bill to replace the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [AIPPA]. Mr Chikwinya chairs the Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology. His motion for leave to introduce the Bill is not yet on the House of Assembly Order Paper.

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied

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