ZANU-PF’s disdain for parliament

The Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front did not have a lot of respect for Parliament despite its majority in the House and instead it preferred to use statutory instruments to pass legislation as these could be effective immediately without having to go through the rigorous process that bills had to do through.

According to a cable released by Wikileaks ZANU-PF was showing disdain for Parliament and was apparently not satisfied with its substantial majority which assured it full control of the government’s legislature.

“The legislature's shrinking calendar and growing GOZ (government) preference for statutory instruments instead of formal legislation may be driven in part by budgetary constraints and time sensitivities. Perhaps more significantly, however, it reflects executive mistrust of an institution that has constitutional authority to exert an independent, albeit limited, check on executive power,’ the cable says.

The cable said many bills were languishing in Parliament unpassed, resurfacing session after session.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE743, LEGISLATIVE ENVIRONMENT WORSENING

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE743

2004-05-04 05:49

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000743

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, TEITELBAUM

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: LEGISLATIVE ENVIRONMENT WORSENING

 

REF: HARARE 720

 

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Summary

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1. (SBU) The legislative environment in Zimbabwe continues to

decline as Parliament,s role in the law-making process is

increasingly marginalized. To compound Parliament,s

ineffectiveness, it is likely to reduce its sittings during

the next session as MPs hit the campaign trails, allowing

continuation of the current trend of the Executive Office

creating law via statutory instruments and without

Parliamentary input. End Summary.

 

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Lackluster Parliamentary Agenda

-------------------------------

 

2. (U) Parliament,s next sitting is scheduled to resume May

11, during which time it is expected to pass the Electoral

Amendment Bill (Reftel). If Parliament does not pass the

bill during the next sitting then, it likely will prior to

the close of the session sometime in June. Other legislation

that will be on the agenda includes:

 

--the Privileges Amendment Bill that, among other things,

would fine MPs who miss, interrupt, or walk out on

presidential addresses to Parliament, and protect judges and

magistrates from being arrested or searched within the

premises of any court of which they are judges, magistrates,

or presidents;

--the Stock Theft Amendment Bill that would reintroduce a

minimum sentence for theft of horses and cattle;

--the Administrative Justice Bill that claims to encourage

efficient administration and good governance;

--the Securities Bill, which is the first bill written by a

group outside the Ministries;

--the Balance of Payments Reporting bill that establishes

another way to get foreign exchange from financial

institutions and large scale exporters;

--and the Anti-Corruption Commission Bill establishing an

Anti-Corruption Commission that would report to the Minister

of Special Affairs for Anti-corruption and Anti-monopolies

Didymus Mutasa.

 

The Privileges Amendment, Stock Theft Amendment, and

Administrative Justice Bills received adverse reports from

the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC), the committee

responsible for ensuring the constitutionality of

legislation.

 

-------------------------------------

Legislative Environment Deteriorating

-------------------------------------

 

3. (SBU) The broad consensus among major donors, outside

experts who work with Parliament, and Post is that the

legislative environment has deteriorated over the last few

years despite the growing role of portfolio committees.

There is no set legislative calendar, and Parliament,s

sitting schedule seems to be dictated by when Executive

Orders are set to expire. Furthermore, many bills languish

in Parliament unpassed, resurfacing session after session.

The statutory instrument (S.I.) has become a popular means of

law-making, mainly because they are not subject to the same

procedural requirements as bills and are more effectively

controlled by the executive. (Note: Statutory instruments

originate in the Executive Office and do not need to go

through the same parliamentary bill-making procedure,

although they are subject to PLC review. They are effective

immediately upon publication in the Government Gazette.

S.I.,s generated under the Presidential Powers (Temporary

Measures) Act expire after six months but other S.I.,s have

an indefinite lifespan. End Note.) Prominent S.I.'s over the

last five months include S.I. 273A of 2003 that authorizes

agents of the Ministry of Lands to seize farm equipment and

material from former commercial farmers; S.I. 37 and S.I. 41A

of 2004 that take away the court's discretion on bail and

authorize the police to detain suspects for longer periods;

and S.I. 18 of 2004 that grants the government-owned Tel*One

telephone company a monopoly on international

telecommunications services. All of these statutory

instruments received adverse reports from the PLC.

 

------------------------------

ZANU-PF Disdain for Parliament

------------------------------

 

4. (U) Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa most likely

summed up the party's attitude towards Parliament and a more

inclusive parliamentary process with comments reported in the

April 25 issue of The Voice, the ZANU-PF newspaper, in which

he stated &our greatest challenge remains how to transform

our party principles onto the parliamentary landscape so that

the party and parliamentary democracy are

indistinguishable.8 In the same article, Mnangagwa declared

the Parliament undemocratic and in need of a &homegrown8

overhaul that would &espouse certain core values of the

country.8

 

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Comment

-------

 

5. (SBU) ZANU-PF apparently is not satisfied with a

substantial parliamentary majority that already assures it

full control of the government's legislative agenda. The

legislature's shrinking calendar and growing GOZ preference

for statutory instruments instead of formal legislation may

be driven in part by budgetary constraints and time

sensitivities. Perhaps more significantly, however, it

reflects executive mistrust of an institution that has

constitutional authority to exert an independent, albeit

limited, check on executive power. Certainly, increasing

reliance on S.I.'s is a measure of the Parliament's

increasing marginalization and irrelevance.

 

6. (SBU) The beleaguered Speaker's reported comments are

notable in at least two respects. First, the overt

partisanship is uncharacteristic in its extremism; since

assuming the speakership, Mnangagwa had generally been

supportive of the institution as a forum for debate and a

place for the opposition, even as he assured the ruling

party's dominant position and control of the agenda at all

times. Mnangagwa had earlier also used the speakership

postion to seek to burnish his personal credentials

nationally and internationally. His latest comments may

reflect the precariousness of his position and his desire to

project a holier-than-thou posture within the party as

corruption investigations against him proceed. In any event,

his comments are consistent with the ruling party's

increasingly evident priority on making Zimbabwe effectively

a one-party state. End Comment.

SULLIVAN

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