The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front which lost its parliamentary majority in the lower house to the Movement for Democratic Change made some amends in the Senate where it won 30 of the 60 elected seats but analysts said this was only going to delay but not stop legislation.
ZANU-PF could have as many eats as 63 in the Senate if President Robert Mugabe won. This could be reduced to 48 if Morgan Tsvangirai won.
There were 18 appointed seats reserved for chiefs traditionally said to be aligned to ZANU-PF, 10 reserved for provincial governors and five for special interest groups.
Israel Chilimanzi, legislative programme advisor at the United States government-funded State University of New York parliamentary project, said that a ZANU-PF controlled Senate could only delay the legislative process in the event of a MDC presidency and not bring it to a full stop.
Chilimanzi said that the House of Assembly was the more important and powerful body because it could introduce money bills as well as by-pass the Senate to send bills to the president for assent.
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SUBJECT: A ZANU-PF SENATE CAN DELAY, BUT NOT STOP LEGISLATION
REF: HARARE 00273
¶1. (U) SUMMARY: The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced
final results for the 60 Senate seats contested with ZANU-PF winning
30 seats, MDC Tsvangirai 24 seats, and MDC Mutambara 6 seats. In
addition to the 60 contested seats, there are 33 Senate seats filled
by appointment, as follows: 18 seats drawn from traditional chiefs,
10 seats filled by provincial governors, and five seats representing
special interest groups. With 30 contested Senate seats wrapped up
and traditional chiefs in pocket, ZANU-PF will likely maintain a
majority in the upper house regardless of who eventually wins the
presidency. In the event of an MDC presidency, a ZANU-PF controlled
Senate could only delay the legislative process and not bring it to
a full stop. END SUMMARY.
Senate Results In
¶2. (U) The ZEC announced final results for the 60 Senate seats
contested with ZANU-PF winning 30 seats, MDC Tsvangirai 24 seats,
and MDC Mutambara 6 seats. In addition to the 60 contested seats,
there are 33 Senate seats filled by presidential appointment, as
follows: 18 seats filled by traditional chiefs elected by fellow
chiefs plus the president and deputy president of the Council of
Chiefs, 10 seats filled by provincial governors who are appointed to
governorships by the president, and five seats are appointed by the
president to represent special interest groups.
¶3. (U) According to official results published in the
government-controlled newspaper The Herald, 2,422,980 valid votes
were cast in the Senate elections — ZANU-PF received 1,102,230
votes (45.5 percent), MDC Tsvangirai 1,055,514 (43.6 percent), MDC
Mutambara 193,068 (8.0 percent), and independents and other minor
parties 72,168 (3.0 percent). These percentages track with the
House of Assembly results released last week (reftel). There were
five Senate races won by ZANU-PF in which the total combined votes
for the two MDC formations were more than the ZANU-PF votes.
Additionally, the MDC Tsvangirai did not fare as well in Mashonaland
provinces, picking up only one Senate seat compared with the 12
House of Assembly seats won in these previously “no-go” areas for
¶4. (U) Notable ZANU-PF losses were former Zimbabwe Defense Forces
commander retired general Vitalis Zvinavashe in Gutu constituency in
Masvingo province and Deputy House Speaker Kumbirai Kangai in Buhera
constituency in Manicaland province. ZANU-PF winners included
Senate Speaker Edna Madzongwe in Chegutu constituency in Mashonaland
West province, former finance minister Herbert Murerwa in Goromonzi
constituency in Mashonaland East province, and Defense Minister
Sydney Sekeramayi in Marondera-Hwedza constituency in Mashonaland
East province. MDC Mutambara candidate David Coltart won in Khumalo
constituency in Bulawayo Metropolitan province.
A ZANU-PF MAJORITY IN SENATE
¶5. (U) With 30 contested seats wrapped up, ZANU-PF will likely
maintain a majority in the upper house regardless of who eventually
wins the presidency and fills the Senate appointments because the
traditional chiefs invariably vote with ZANU-PF. If President
Mugabe manages to win the presidency, ZANU-PF would control a total
of 63 seats, which is more than a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
If Morgan Tsvangirai wins the presidency and appoints the other 15
seats (apart from the traditional chiefs), ZANU-PF will still
control 48 seats compared with the opposition’s 45 seats.
¶6. (SBU) Israel Chilimanzi, legislative program advisor at the
USG-funded SUNY parliamentary project, explained that a ZANU-PF
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controlled Senate could only delay the legislative process in the
event of a MDC presidency and not bring it to a full stop.
Chilimanzi added that the House of Assembly was the more important
and powerful body because it could introduce money bills as well as
by-pass the Senate to send bills to the president for assent. As
such, a ZANU-PF controlled Senate could only manage to delay rather
than stop legislative business.
Roles of Parliament
¶7. (U) The two houses of Parliament have four roles: legislative,
executive oversight, representational, and forum for public debate.
As per the Constitution, Parliament performs its legislative role by
passing Bills that are subject to assent by the president. Passage
of legislation requires the participation of both Houses. Any bill,
except a money bill, can be introduced in either house. Money bills
can only be introduced in the House of Assembly, but must be
considered by both Houses. Each house is free to make amendments to
any bill that comes before it. A bill is considered passed with a
simple majority in both houses. A constitutional bill is considered
passed with a two-thirds affirmative vote of the total membership of
each house. Parliament also performs executive oversight by
scrutinizing government policies, programs and expenditure plans
through the committee system and by making inputs into, monitoring,
and approving the national budget.
How the Two Houses Relate
¶8. (U) The Constitution provides that if a disagreement between the
two houses has not been resolved within 90 days, the bill may be
presented to the President for assent in the form in which it was
passed in the House of Assembly, with any amendments the Senate and
the House of Assembly may have agreed on. Additionally, if the
Senate does not pass a constitutional bill passed by the House of
Assembly within a period of 180 days, the bill is deemed to have
been passed by Parliament if two-thirds of the House of Assembly
then agrees that the bill should be presented to the president in
the form in which it was passed in the House of Assembly, with any
amendments the Senate and the House of Assembly may have agreed on.
As such, it is explicit that where there is disagreement, the lower
house bill prevails.
¶9. (U) Once a bill has been duly passed by Parliament, the bill is
presented to the president for assent. The president is required to
assent to the bill within 21 days or if he withholds assent, the
bill is returned to the House of Assembly. If, within six months
after a bill has been returned, the House of Assembly passes the
bill again with two-thirds affirmative votes of all the members of
the House of Assembly, the bill is again presented to the president
for assent. The president is then required to give his assent to
the bill within 21 days or dissolve Parliament.