BILL WATCH SPECIAL

Bill Watch SPECIAL [Constitution Amendment 19 Bill Gazetted]  
The Constitution Amendment No. 19 Bill was gazetted late yesterday [Friday 12th December] in a Government Gazette Extraordinary

ZANU-PF gave the go-ahead for the Bill to be gazetted.  Mr Chinamasa,
the principal negotiator for ZANU-PF, announced to the State press that
"The gazetting of the amendment is a clarion call to all political
parties to demonstrate their commitment in letter and spirit to the
inter-party political agreement."  He emphasised that all the
negotiators had initialled it, but failed to state whether all the
parties had given the go-ahead for its gazetting.

MDC-M – Mr Mutambara on Thursday after his meeting with the SADC
Facilitation team [see below] stated "I told them that Amendment No 19
should be gazetted immediately."

MDC-T held a National Council Meeting yesterday [12 December] in Kadoma
and the Council Resolutions were issued yesterday evening and
reiterated in Resolution 5 that the MDC-T will not be part of a
government of national unity unless and until there is an amicable
settlement on the outstanding issues of:

a.  Equitability and fairness in the allocation of ministerial portfolios and Provincial Governors

b.  The constitution and composition of the National Security Council

c.  The enactment of Constitutional Amendment No. 19.

It remains to be seen whether these issues can be resolved before the
Bill is tabled in Parliament, or whether, even if they are not, the MDC
will in fact support the Amendment in Parliament.

The Bill would have to be supported by all parties to pass through Parliament. 

Parliamentary Timeframe for the Bill

30 days must now elapse before the Bill can be introduced in
Parliament.  This makes Tuesday 13th January the earliest possible day
for the introduction of the Bill.  It could be introduced in either
House.

If all parties have agreed, it would take two weeks at the most for the
Bill to be debated and passed through both Houses.  This would make it
possible for the Bill to be assented to by Mr Mugabe and gazetted as an
Act at the end of January or in early February.

If there is still disagreement among parties, the Bill could be blocked
in Parliament.  It  must receive the affirmative votes of at least
two-thirds of the total membership of each House [i.e. at least 140
votes in the House of Assembly and at least 62 in the Senate].

In the House of Assembly, the MDC-T has 99 seats out of 210 seats, comfortably more than required to block a Constitutional Bill

In the Senate, the situation is not so clear-cut, but being able to
block the Bill in the House of Assembly is sufficient.  If it is
introduced in the House of Assembly first and blocked, the Bill would
not even be referred to the Senate.  If is introduced in and passed by
the Senate, it then has to go the House of Assembly and could be
blocked there.  

If the Bill is Blocked in Parliament ? New Elections

Mr Chinamasa in the State newspaper today was quoted as saying  "If no
support [from MDC-T] is forthcoming, it means that Amendment No. 19
Bill will be a dead matter.  In the event that the collaboration that
we envisage is not forthcoming, then that will necessitate fresh
harmonised elections at some point in time."Å  "The current Constitution
requires that we hold harmonised elections and so we will have to go
back to the people to elect councillors, House of Assembly
representatives, Senators and a President."

Earlier this week, President Mugabe, in his speech at Elliot Manyika’s
funeral at Hero’s Acre, hinted at the possibility of fresh elections
should the agreement fail to get off the ground.

SADC Facilitation Team in Harare this Week

The SA facilitation team led by Mr Sydney Mufamadi arrived in Harare on
Wednesday.  The Facilitator himself, Mr Mbeki, did not come.  The team
said that the main objective of their visit was to get the parties to
agree on the immediate gazetting of the Constitution Amendment No. 19
Bill.  The team met representatives from the parties over the last
three days.  ZANU-PF and MDC-M were agreeable to the gazetting of the
Bill.  MDC-T report that they insisted that, before continuing the
discussion on the Bill, the issue of the escalating violence and
political abductions be discussed, and this proved a sticking point in
their discussions.  There has been no official statement from the
Facilitation team.

The gazetted version of the Constitution Amendment No.19 Bill – Note:
this is very close to the agreed draft.  Where there were bracketed
paragraphs to be finalised by the principals, the wording adopted is
the original wording of the Inter-Party Political Agreement of 11th
September not the altered wording of 15th September.

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