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Gutu elected chair of powerful Parliamentary Legal Committee

Movement for Democratic Change senator Obert Gutu was elected chairman of the powerful Parliamentary Legal Committee. Four other seats of the five-member committee were divided evenly between the MDC and the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front.

The Parliamentary Legal Committee is responsible for evaluating the constitutionality of all proposed legislation.

The chairmanships to the various parliamentary committees were allocated based on party. For example, if a ministry was led by ZANU-PF, the relevant committee was allocated to one of the two MDC formations.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE281, ZIM PARLIAMENT PUTS IN PLACE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEES

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE281

2009-04-03 10:16

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO8647

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0281/01 0931016

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 031016Z APR 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4322

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2753

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2875

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1321

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2140

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2496

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2923

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5364

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2042

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000281

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MICHELLE GAVIN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/03/2019

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: ZIM PARLIAMENT PUTS IN PLACE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEES

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (SBU) Zimbabwe’s parliament finalized its committee

nomination process this week by announcing appointments to

the Parliamentary Legal Committee as well as to the 20

various portfolio committees. These bodies serve as

important mechanisms to evaluate the legality of proposed

legislation and to monitor executive policy decisions.

Committee nominations were made in keeping with party

representation, while taking relevant experience into

consideration.

 

2. (SBU) A snag was hit in determining who should chair

committees related to establishing a new constitution. MDC

MPs proposed that civil society should hold these positions,

while ZANU-PF MPs felt they should be filled by

parliamentarians. Both sides agreed to refer the decision to

party principals. END SUMMARY.

 

——————————–

Oversight Committees Established

——————————–

 

3. (SBU) Xolani Zitha, the director of the Speaker of the

House of Assembly’s (HOA) office, told poloff on March 31

that the HOA’s influential Standing Rules and Orders

Committee (SROC) met on March 30 and established nominees to

the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) and the 20 various

parliamentary portfolio committees (PCs). The PLC is a five

member body responsible for evaluating the constitutionality

of proposed legislation, while the PCs scrutinize legislation

and “monitor, investigate, enquire into and make

recommendations relating to any aspect of the legislative

program.” Both the PLC and PCs are key components of

Parliament’s oversight of the government.

 

4. (SBU) The PLC chairmanship was granted to Senator Obert

Gutu of the MDC-T, with the remaining four seats divided

evenly between the MDC and ZANU-PF. Chairmanships to the

various PCs were allocated based on party. For example, if a

ministry was led by ZANU-PF, the relevant PC was allocated to

one of the two MDC formations. Within this context, the

party chief whips then made the individual determinations.

 

——————————

Impasse on Constitutional Issue

——————————-

 

5. (SBU) The SROC also discussed certain framework issues

dealing with Parliament’s role in crafting a new

constitution. Specifically, the SROC discussed who should

chair the Constitutional Select Committee and associated

sub-committees. Zitha said that MDC MPs were generally

supportive of filling these seats with members of civil

society to ensure that the process is transparent and people

driven. An unverified local press report mentioned that the

MDC’s top candidate was an unnamed retired judge.

 

6. (SBU) Conversely, ZANU-PF MPs were more supportive of

parliamentarians holding these positions. During the SROC

meeting, the ZANU-PF Minister of Defense, Emmerson Mnangagwa,

was adamantly opposed to an independent chair and argued that

Qwas adamantly opposed to an independent chair and argued that

SADC had determined that Parliament should lead the

constitutional process. Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur

Mutambara were strongly supportive of an independent chair.

Unable to agree, the SROC decided to forward the decision to

the principals, to include President Mugabe. A decision was

 

HARARE 00000281 002 OF 002

 

 

expected by April 8. Should a non-MP from civil society

become the chair of the Constitutional Select Committee or a

sub-committee, in order for them to report their conclusions

to Parliament, the standing rules and orders would have to be

amended.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) Overall we are pleased to see Parliament picking up

its pace and assuming its critical oversight role. As the

first non-ZANU-PF controlled parliament in Zimbabwean

history, it bears considerable responsibility for checking

government and ensuring transparency. We are also encouraged

that the MDC side is putting its support behind backing a

civil society candidate to chair the constitutional

committee. If that motion succeeds, it would lend

credibility that the constitution drafting process will be

done in an inclusive manner. END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

(16 VIEWS)

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