Parliamentary Round Up Bulletin No. 5 – 2108

Parliament met this week and the main business of the House was the debate on the Presidential Speech by ZANU PF Hon. Members. The debate centered on the need to address the economic crisis faced by the country.

MDC-A Chief Whip Hon. Prosper Mutseyami (MDC-A Dangamvura-Chikanga) moved a motion regarding the abuse of Vendors Constitutional Rights. He expressed concern over the absence of holistic solutions addressing the issues of vendors, urban poverty and illegal urban settlements in Zimbabwe and disrespect of vendors. Hon Mutseyami condemned the wanton attack and lawlessness unleashed to vendors by State Authorities, demanded the provision of alternative sustainable income generating infrastructure for vendors and that called upon government to craft and implement a national employment policy.

On Monday the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Mines chaired by Hon. Themba Mliswa (Independent Norton). Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi defended his actions to reconstruct Hwange Colliery Company without consulting other shareholders saying the problems afflicting the company needed swift action to avert possible liquidation. He said as Justice minister, the law empowered him to put any company under reconstruction without consulting other shareholders if necessary. The committee said it felt that putting the company under an administrator, Bekithemba Moyo, when it was already under a scheme of arrangement and the board had instructed that a forensic audit be conducted for Hwange, was hasty. They said the decision made by Ziyambi and Mines minister Winston Chitando would cost government and the struggling Hwange Colliery a lot of money in fees.

In other news, SAPST in collaboration with the Parliament of Zimbabwe conducted a workshop for Parliamentary Committee Chairpersons to equip them with technical skills on effective ways to conduct committee business. The two-day workshop was attended by the Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Adv. Jacob Mudenda, Deputy President of the Senate Hon. Retired General Mike Nyambuya, Parliamentary Committee chairpersons, Chief whips, Parliament of Zimbabwe and SAPST staff. In his opening remarks, SAPST Deputy Director Israel Chilimanzi stressed the organisation’s commitment to assist Parliament technically and financially.

The seminar equipped the Chairpersons of Committees to fulfil the core mandate of committees, namely reviewing legislation, overseeing the work of government, and representing the people of Zimbabwe. The proceedings delivered information and topics that committees of Parliament use in their routine operation, including: Understanding the mandate of committees; Role of Parliament in the Budget Process; Work-plans; Legislative Analysis; Public Hearings; and Gender Mainstreaming.

They were challenged to develop empathetic leadership, build team work, be good listeners, and be knowledgeable of the key sectors that they shadow. Second, throughout the proceedings, committees were advised to make use of relevant legal provisions, in particular in the area of budget, these include the national constitution sections 298 to 308. Other equally important legal tools beside the constitution are: Public Finance Management Act chapter 22; Audit Office Act; Revenue Authority Act; Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act chapter 2; Public Debt Management Act chapter 22.

The social accountability approach to budget analysis was cited as one of the effective tools for the purpose, through its components: public expenditure management; performance management; public integrity management; and oversight. Committee were urged to use these tools when engaging with government line ministries to determine their budget performance. The importance of principles of transparency, accountability and equitable sharing of national resources between central government and local authorities was also raised. Chairperson of committees were urged to remain resolute and assertive on the need for government departments and other public entities to timely submit monthly, quarterly, and annual financial reports. Other critical areas that were discussed include committee meetings, work-plans, the handling of petitions, and the conduct of public hearing.

Source: Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST)