BILL WATCH 43/2008


3rd November 2008


Neither House sat last week
The Senate will resume sitting on 4th November
The House of Assembly is adjourned until 11th November
Bills: There are no new Bills and no draft Constitution Amendment
Statutory Instruments: See end of Bulletin
Still No Breakthrough on Power-Sharing Agreement


The SADC Organ Summit meeting in Harare on 27th October failed to produce agreement between the three parties, despite lasting for some thirteen hours. The Summit accordingly decided to refer the Zimbabwe issue to a full SADC summit to be held as soon as possible.  The Summit will be held in South Africa or Swaziland, but the date has still not been fixed.
Facilitator’s report: Mr Mbeki presented a report to the Summit.  This report has not been made public but was allegedly leaked to the press on the 22nd October.  It was reported as covering the proposed allocation of Ministries and how they related to the objectives of the Power-Sharing Agreement, and that Mr Mbeki on the whole endorsed the ZANU PF list as published unilaterally in the Government Gazette of 10th October.  MDC-T refused to comment to the press on a report that was confidential but wrote Mr Mbeki a strong letter on their lack of satisfaction with the mediation.  [Veritas does not distribute unverified material but the electronic version of the leaked report is available on www.newzimbabwe.com].
The Summit Communiqué issued on 28th October mentioned the Mbeki report without giving details.  The Communiqué went on to say that the three party principals had made presentations to the Summit.  On the sticking points it gave the impression that the allocation of the Ministry of Home Affairs was the only matter still in dispute.  [Electronic version of communiqué available on request.].  Press reports indicated that there was a division of opinion among Heads of State in the Organ Meeting but these reports are contradictory and cannot be corroborated.
MDC T press statement on 29th October:  [Electronic version available] Secretary-General Tendai Biti outlined six outstanding issues to be resolved by the SADC Summit:
•  allocation of Ministries [stressing that much more than the Ministry of Home Affairs is at stake]
•  sharing of provincial governorships in line with the outcome of the 29th March elections
•  the composition, functions and constitution of the National Security Council
•  appointment of Permanent Secretaries and Ambassadors
•  Constitution Amendment No. 19
•  the admitted discrepancies between the Power-Sharing Agreement signed at the formal signing ceremony on the 15th September and the agreement signed on the 11th September [on this point Mr. Biti expressed surprise that the Summit communiqué failed to capture the Troika’s resolution that the agreement of the 11th September 2008 should be the binding version].
Queries about Titles used in the SADC Communique
As the power sharing agreement has still not been put into practice there have been queries as to why the Communiqué is referring to Mr Mugabe as President, but to Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Mutambara as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Designate.  SADC seems to be leaving the question in abeyance.  In August the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum [ZEF] brought a case in the SADC Tribunal, arguing that Mr Mugabe should not attend SADC Summit in his capacity as President because he had not been elected into office through a credible process.  In its formal response lodged with the Tribunal SADC conceded that ZEF’s concern is legitimate but explained that, as SADC resolutions on the Zimbabwe political conflict require the three parties to sit together and talk to each other, the invitation for the Summit meeting held on August 17, 2008, was directed not only to Mr Mugabe but also to representatives from the opposition parties.  The date for the hearing of the case has not been set but the Tribunal is due to sit later this month.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Comments
Now that SADC has decided to convene a full summit meeting, I hope that these leaders of SADC are considering their responsibility to see peace and stability maintained in that region.  They should really take very decisive measures to help resolve this crisis.  This has been taking too long a time. I sincerely hope that President Mugabe should no longer disappoint the international community.  There has been such a long and urgent call and expectations from the international community.  He should now meet the expectation of the international community, and I am again doing my best and I’m personally engaged in this process.
President Khama calls for re-run of Zimbabwe Presidential election under international supervision
Delivering his State of the Nation Address to the Parliament of Botswana on Monday 3rd November Botswana President Ian Khama referred to developments in Zimbabwe:  … we remain seriously concerned about the failure to form a Government that is widely accepted by the people of that country.  We are of the further view that it is important for all SADC member states to uphold the regional standards they have collectively and voluntarily adopted.  We strongly believe that the one viable way forward in Zimbabwe is to have a rerun of the Presidential Election under full international sponsorship and supervision. That way a repeat of the past runoff Presidential election, which was declared by regional and international observers to be neither free nor fair and was characterised by intimidation and violence, can be avoided.  It should be unacceptable for ruling parties to seek to manipulate election outcomes to extend their stay in power, as this is bad for democracy on our continent.  
 
Peaceful Demonstrations outside SADC Meeting broken up
On the day of the Summit peaceful demonstrations by several hundred people – members of the Women’s Coalition, youth and student groups and human rights organisations – were forcibly broken up by the police and prevented from reaching the Summit venue.  Tear-gas was used.  Demonstrators were beaten up and more than 50 arrested.  11 women demonstrators needed medical treatment for injuries sustained.  The demonstration by Restoration of Human Rights [ROHR] members left 23 people with injuries and 4 abducted and badly assaulted by Zanu PF supporters.  Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights [ZLHR] commented: Events which occurred prior to, on the day of, and subsequent to the meeting on 27 October 2008 – more particularly the indiscriminate arrests, detentions, assaults and alleged abductions of women and youth human rights defenders, as well as innocent bystanders, by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and non-state actors allegedly aligned to ZANU-PF – clearly show that the status quo in respect of responsibility for the control of such law enforcement agents cannot continue. [Electronic version of ZLHR press release available.]
 
Parliament
On the Senate Order Paper [Agenda] for 4th November
The only item on the agenda is the continuing Debate on the Mr Mugabe’s speech of 26th August when he opened the new Parliament.
On the House of Assembly Order Paper [Agenda] for 11th November
The following items are on the agenda:
•   Motion on Post-Election Violence [debate not yet commenced]
•   Motion on Economic Crisis and Other Problems Facing Zimbabwe [debate not yet commenced]
•   Motion on the Food Crisis [debate in progress – see below]
•   Debate on President’s Speech [debate in progress]
Debate on Food Crisis
During debate on the 22nd October MDC-T members criticized military involvement in the distribution of both food and agricultural inputs, and called for the removal of the remaining obstacles hindering humanitarian NGOs from providing the massive food relief required.  A ZANU-PF member explained military involvement by describing  food security as part of the national security concern of the country [a hungry person is an angry person and where we have anger, we have an insecure situation].  This explanation was not acceptable to the majority of the MPs.  Despite the urgency of the food crisis the debate was postponed to until the House of Assembly resumes on the 11th and even then ZANU PF could drag the debate out before there is a vote.
Appointment of committees, commencement of pre-budget consultations
As neither House was sitting last week, there was no progress on Committees or regularising the Budget.
Looking ahead
Even if the formation of an inclusive government is further delayed, it will soon be necessary to introduce a Supplementary Budget for the remainder of 2008 [Parliament itself being short of funds to pay allowances to legislators] and emergency funding cannot be resorted to after 26th November.
The Parliamentary programme for December is usually a heavy one, involving consideration and approval of the Estimates of Expenditure for the following financial year and the enactment of related Bills [Appropriation Bill giving effect to the Estimates and Finance Bill containing the taxation measures proposed by the Minister of Finance in the Budget speech].  
This year’s ZANU-PF People’s Conference will be from 10th to 14th December.  In previous years it has been customary for both Houses to adjourn for a full week in December to permit ZANU-PF members to attend their annual party conference.  Extending the same indulgence to ZANU-PF this year will presumably depend on agreement between the parties.
 
By-Elections?
The week saw no further developments on this issue [see Bill Watch 42 for summary].  No proclamations calling by-elections have been gazetted.  It is doubtful that free, fair and peaceful by-elections are possible under present conditions.  Causes for concern include the recent resurgence of politically-inspired violence in Epworth; continued ZANU-PF control of the distribution of food and agricultural inputs through the military as highlighted in the House of Assembly during the food crisis debate [see above]; and unchanged police hostility towards peaceful demonstrations by civil society organisations as illustrated by the forcible breaking-up of demonstrations in the vicinity of the SADC Summit on Monday.
 
Update on Statutory Instruments
SIs 150A and 150B – new fees for drivers’ licences and registration of motor vehicles
SIs 150C to 150M – new fees and charges under various Customs and Excise regulations, including rents for State warehouse and fees for registration for manufacturers’ rebates
SI 151 – new fees for registration of armorial bearings, names, uniforms, etc.
SI 152 – new fees for the Companies Office
SI 153 – Child Abduction (Contracting States) Notice.  This lists the 61 States with which Zimbabwe has reciprocal arrangements under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.  This new list reflects 32 recent additions which came into effect on the 1st August 2008.  
SIs 154, 155 and 157 – suspension of customs duty and VAT on gumboots, agro-chemicals and other agricultural inputs, backdated to 24th October
SI 156 – new “prescribed amounts” for the purposes of applying various  provisions of the VAT Act
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied

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