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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 09 May 2017 43-60
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 9th May, 2017
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER
ERROR ON THE ORDER PAPER
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I wish to draw the attention
of the House to an error on today’s Order Paper wherein Order of the
Day, Number 1 has been erroneously reflected as Consideration Stage:
Estates Administrators Amendment Bill [H.B. 8A, 2016] instead of the
Second Reading: Estates Administrators Amendment Bill [H.B. 8A, 2016].
*HON. MARIDADI: On a point of order. Thank you Madam
Speaker for according me this opportunity. The Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing tabled a report which we received in this House. We normally say that the Executive is not implementing the recommendations of Parliament but as a House, we are not implementing our recommendations. The Portfolio
Committee said it point blank that Hon. Chigumba is a land baron in Chitungwiza. So, as Parliament, what are you going to do because one of us is a land baron? Land barons are causing a lot of problems. Are we going to chase the Hon. Member from this House?
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Whatever we do in this
House is procedural. We do not just chase people away. Would you please take your seat so that we can proceed?
*HON. MARIDADI: That is the procedure that I was asking for. *THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is not that he will be
chased away. The Minister will look into that.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA): With the indulgence of the House, may I move that
Order of the Day, Number 1 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until
Order Number 2, 3 and 4 are disposed of?
Motion put and agreed to.
JUDICIAL LAWS AMENDMENT BILL (EASE OF SETTLING
COMMERCIAL AND OTHER DISPUTES) [H.B. 4A, 2016]
Second Order read: Consideration: Judicial Laws Amendment Bill
(Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes) [H.B. 4A, 2016]
Amendment to Clause 5 put and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, adopted.
Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.
JUDICIAL LAWS AMENDEMENT BILL (EASE OF SETTLING
COMMERCIAL AND OTHER DISPUTES) [H. B. 4A, 2016]
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA): Madam Speaker Ma’am, I now move that the Bill be
read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
DEEDS REGISTRIES AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 3A, 2016]
Amendments to Clauses 4 and 5 put and agreed to.
Bill as amended, adopted.
Third Reading: With leave, forth with.
DEEDS REGISTRIES AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 3A, 2016]
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA): I move that the Bill be read a third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
CONSTITUTION OF ZIMBABWE AMENDMENT (No. 1) BILL
[H.B. 1, 2017]
Second Order read: Second Reading: Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill [H.B. 1, 2017].
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA): Madam Speaker, allow me at the outset, to reaffirm the commitment of Government in its constitutional implementation, to deepen the sacrosanct principles of constitutionalism in our flourishing constitutional democracy. The long and arduous constitutional development of our young nation, has taught us that there is more to gain in religiously adhering to the dictates of constitutionalism including the principles of separation of powers, judicial independence and rule of law. These principles can only be of utility towards sound constitutional implementation if both the content and substance and adjectival aspects of our constitutional, legislative and administrative frameworks are above board.
Madam Speaker, the constitutional framework for judicial independence in any jurisdiction is paramount in determining the quality of justice delivery, access to justice and the administration of justice. These aspects are indeed intricately linked to the procedure of appointment of heads of the judiciary and other judges. Such appointment must be executed in a manner that does not compromise the constitutional, legislative and administrative values and etiquette expected of such crucial officials. The appointment procedure must be in tandem with international best practice and be subjected to proper administrative processes with no internal and external influence whatsoever. This can only be achieved when the constitutional bedrock on which such appointments should be anchored is solid enough to arrest any mischief, perceptions and challenges that may arise in the administration of justice. This Bill is brought before this august House in order to reflect the spirit and letter of the above espoused values.
Madam Speaker, the purpose of proposing this constitutional
Amendment Bill stems from serious concerns regarding the procedures of appointment for the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President of the High Court. It has become public knowledge that, with the current constitutional framework on appointment of the heads of the judiciary, the probability of subjecting some judicial officers to public interviews by members of the Judicial Service Commission to which they are also members is high. This will also create a probable situation where junior members of the JSC find themselves in an invidious position to interview their superiors.
Furthermore, the possibility of the outgoing Chief Justice, who invariably and by virtue of him or her being the Chairperson of the JSC of presiding over the interview process of his or her potential successor are inescapable under the current constitutional regime. This without doubt is irregular, inappropriate and stands firm to violate the principle of separation of powers, checks and balances and good governance. In any event, it is quite unexampled and has no precedent in the American,
Asian, African, Caribbean, Pacific and Scandinavian jurisdictions.
Madam Speaker, this Bill seeks to regularise the above. It will amend the Constitution by substituting section 180, which provides for the appointment of judges. The appointment procedure for all judges will remain as it is except for the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President of the High Court. It is proposed by this amendment that these three officials will be appointed by the President after consultations with the Judicial Service Commission (in various jurisdictions around the world, and under the previous Constitution the appointment of all judges was done in this way except for the Judge President who was appointed by the Chief Justice). If the appointment of a Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice or Judge President of the High Court is not consistent with any recommendation made by the Judicial Service Commission made during the course of the consultation, then the President will have to inform the Senate of that fact as soon as possible.
Consequent to the foregoing amendment, paragraph 18(3) of the
Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, titled Commencement of this Constitution, Transitional Provisions and Savings, is also amended by excluding vacancies in the offices of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice from the scope of that provision.
Further, paragraph 18 (6) of the sixth schedule of the
Constitution has been misconstrued to mean that judges of the Labour
Court and the Administrative Court are at par with judges of the High
Court and that the Judge President of the Labour Court is at par with the Judge President of the High Court when in actual fact the High Court has inherent jurisdiction in terms of Sections 171 and 176 of the Constitution respectively. Given the fact that the Administrative Court and the Labour Court are specialised courts meant to deal with particular areas of law, it was never the original intent to place these courts at the same level with the High Court which has original jurisdiction on any area of the law.
Madam Speaker, in view of the foregoing, the proposed Constitution Amendment (No.1) Bill, therefore seeks to introduce a separate appointment procedure for the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President of the High Court. Furthermore, it seeks to bring more clarity to Section 174 by providing an explicit provision to the effect that the Labour Court and the Administrative Court are subordinate to the High Court.
Madam Speaker, this brings me to the specific contents of the Bill before Hon. Members. The Constitution Amendment Bill contains eight clauses.
Clause 1 of the Bill sets out the Short Title of the Bill which we all have become familiar of.
Clause 2 is the Interpretation section and defines the term
“Constitution” as the Constitution of Zimbabwe as set forth in the Schedule to the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act of 2013.
Clause 3 amends Section 172 (1) (a) by insertion of a new paragraph (a) which says “a senior judge.”
Clause 4 amends Section 173 (1) (a) by its substitution with the phrase “a senior judge”.
Clause 5 amends Section 174 by the insertion of a new subsection 2 which clarifies that the Labour Court and the Administrative Court are subordinate to the High Court without taking away the salaries, allowances and benefits of the judges of the subordinate courts.
Clause 6 amends Section 180 by the insertion of a new section that clearly sets out the appointment of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President of the High Court as being done by the President in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission.
Clause 7 amends Section 181 (2) (b) and (c) of the Constitution by changing the titles of the ‘Judge President’ of the Labour Court and the Administrative Court to ‘senior judge’.
Finally, Clause 8 amends the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, paragraph 18 (3) by excluding the vacancies of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President of the High Court from the scope of the provision.
Madam Speaker, Hon. Members will note that this Bill is crucial as it ensures that the appointment procedure for the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court is regularised in line with the sacrosanct principles of separation of powers, checks and balances and good governance. It also seeks to bring the appointment procedure in line with good international best practices implemented in other jurisdictions the world over, in a manner that promote and depends our deep seated democratic principle of constitutionalism.
Madam Speaker, I now commend the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.1) Bill (H.B. 1. 2017), to the House and move that the Bill be now read a second time. I thank you.
HON. GONESE: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. I am
seeking an adjournment of the debate for the reason that in terms of the provisions of Section 328 of our Constitution, when it comes to all Constitutional Bills, there is a legal requirement that public meetings must be held. The public meetings by the Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs were held. However, the Committee has not yet sat down to deliberate and adopt a report which will then set the tone for the debate which is going to ensue in the House. The next meeting of the Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is scheduled for Monday next week.
The Committee met yesterday but it was also seized with another report on the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill as a result of which there was insufficient time to deliberate on the report for this particular
Bill. It is for that reason that I am seeking the indulgence of the Hon. Vice President to allow the Committee to inform the House of its findings which will then guide the other Hon. Members in the debate which is going to ensue. I so move Madam Speaker.
HON. E. D. MNANGAGWA: Madam Speaker, were it not for
the reason that this Bill is extremely important, I would not have acceded much more so because the appeal has come from Hon. Gonese who has always stood in my way when I seek his cooperation -
[Laughter.]- But because this Bill is critically important, for that reason I will accept his request. I now move that debate be adjourned. – [HON.
MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
HON. ADV. CHAMISA: Just a point of clarification Hon.
Madam Speaker. I also seek clarification in terms of Section 324 if we have also complied. I see that there is a double-barreled requirement of having public hearings and also enjoining Parliament to write to the public inviting them to have written submissions. I was just enquiring with the Chairperson of the Legal Committee and he indicated that perhaps it is something that borders on conjecture because nothing formal and official has been made or done to make sure that there are written submissions from members of the public and stakeholders because this is a very important Bill as the Vice President and Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has said. This is a very important Bill and of course, it would require a robust engagement not only of the citizens but even of the Hon. Members. So, I just wanted to be sure as a Member of Parliament that we have done justice to the dictates and requirements as per the Constitution in terms of making sure that our law making is sufficiently clothed and couched in manners so prescribed in the Constitution.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: So, may be the Hon. Chairperson can
help us whether he had received some written submissions.
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Speaker. Let me just read what the provision states. It says here in section – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Madam Speaker, let me read what the provision says. It says here, “Immediately after the Speaker has given notice of a Constitutional Bill, in terms of subsection 3, Parliament must invite members of the public to express their views on the proposed Bill in public meetings and through written submissions and must convene meetings and provide facilities to enable the public to do so.”
What I said is the Speaker refered the Bill to the relevant Committee and before he had even presented, the Hon. Member is querying the process. The Speaker referred the Bill to the relevant Committee to comply with the provisions of this particular section. We have not presented for him to question whether what he is saying was not included or not. So, I think he has jumped the gun, he should just wait for Tuesday and his answers will be – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, to my
understanding, the Hon. Member was seeking for clarification [HON. MEMBERS: Yes.] – whether that process is being done, so I give it back to you whether you are still receiving those submissions; there is nothing wrong about that.
HON. ZIYAMBI: Madam Speaker, I think when Hon. Gonese
stood up to explain, he said we have a report that we need to deliberate on and we will come and present. I am saying he has jumped the gun; we are in the process of doing that.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is okay Hon. Member.
What I wanted to hear from you is whether you are receiving the written submissions or not. If you are doing that, then I know you will bring it in the House, there is no problem Hon. Chamisa.
HON. ADV. CHAMISA: In fact, I want to apologise to Hon.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, you were addressing me.
It is me who asked Hon. Ziyambi.
HON. ADV. CHAMISA: Do you know why I am apologizing
Hon. Deputy Speaker - it is because...
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am Speaker when I am in
HON. ADV. CHAMISA: Hon. Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes.
HON. ADV. CHAMISA: The reason why I am apologizing is
because I do not understand the sense of anger from Hon. Ziyambi.
Perhaps I have wronged him.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: This is what I have corrected
HON. ADV. CHAMISA: Thank you if you have corrected it. All
we wanted to hear is whether yes or no that process...
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think I have explained that
HON. ADV. CHAMISA: But the response has not been given.
So, I am sure that – [HON. MEMBERS: inaudible interjections.] – Sorry if you may allow me Hon. Speaker, the response is not supposed to be given by the Chairperson. It is supposed to be given by
Parliament, either yourself or at the very least by the Clerk because you stand in a better position to give a response in equanimity with the calmness that is required. There is no need for us to fight over a very simple issue.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Member.
The Clerk was advising me that they sent the request for the public submissions in written form and it is being done but I know it goes straight to the Chair. There is no problem, everything is under control [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Can we please proceed, Hon. Ziyambi.
ESTATES ADMINISTRATORS AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 8A,
First Order read: Estates Administrators Amendment Bill [H.B.
8A, 2016], as amended.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON.
MNANGAGWA): Madam Speaker, my apologies both to Madam
Speaker and to the House. My speech has not arrived; I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Thursday, 11th May, 2017.
NATIONAL PEACE AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION BILL
[H.B. 2, 2017]
Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second Reading of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill.
Question again proposed.
HON. ZIYAMBI: On 10th February 2017, the Government of
Zimbabwe gazetted the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill [H.B.2,
2017.] to put the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) into operation and related matters. This Bill is the successor to the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill [H.B 13, 2015] (the old
Bill) which was gazetted on 18th December 2015 and withdrawn from Parliament in May 2016 following an adverse opinion on the Bill by the Parliamentary Legal Committee as well as members of the public during the Public Hearings held from 10 to 18 April 2016.
The Justice Committee and thematic Committees of Human Rights and of Peace and Security conducted joint public hearings in all of the country’s provinces, and gathered views and opinions on the Bill. Hearings were conducted in all provinces of the country by two separate teams, Team A and Team B.
Team A held public hearing meetings in the following provinces:
Matebeleland North (Victoria Falls; Chinotimba Hall, 13 March 2017);
Bulawayo (Bulawayo Large City Hall, 14 March 2017); Matebelenad
South (Plumtree, Plumtree Town Council Hall, 15 March 2017); Midlands Province (Gweru Civic Center Hall, 16 March 2017).
Team B conducted its public hearings in the following provinces:
Masvingo (Masvingo, Civic Centre Hall, 13 March 2017); Manicaland
(Mutare, Civic Centre Hall, 14 March, 2017); Mashonaland East
(Marondera, Mbuya Nehanda, 15 March 2017); and Mashonaland Central (Bindura, Tendai Hall, 16 March 2017). The two teams held joint public hearing in Mashonaland West (Chinhoyi, Cooksey Hall,
17 March 2017); and Harare (New Ambassador Hotel, 18 March 2017).
2.1 Attendance figures at Public Hearings
During the public hearing, many organisations and individuals made their submissions and contributions. The following statistics reflects the level of participation. At Chinotimba Hall,18 participants attended and 7 contributions were made; Bulawayo Large City Hall, 111 attended and the Committee received 38 contributions; and Plumtree Town Council Hall, 46 participants attended, 29 submissions were made; Gweru Civic Centre, 134 participants turned up and there were 36 contributions made; Masvingo Civic Centre, 42 participants attended, 21 submissions were received; Mutare Civic Centre Hall, 123 participants attended and 26 contributions were received; Marondera, Mbuya Nehanda Hall 156 participants attended, 34 contributions were received; and in Chinhoyi Cooksey Hall, 264 participants came and 11 contributions were made before the meeting was closed prematurely; at New Ambassador Hotel in Harare, 156 participants came and 31 contributions were received. Thus, for Team A and Team B, 10 meetings were held, 1050 participants attended, 607 were males, and
443 were females, and a total of 207 contributions were made.
Organisations that made their submissions include the following:
The National Transitional Justice Working Group Zimbabwe
(NTJWG); Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe
(CCPJ); Zimbabwe Human Rights Associations (ZHRAs); Post-
Independence Survivors' Trust (PIST); Centre for Public Engagement;
The Ecumenical Church Leaders Forum (ECLF); and The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA).
3.0 Submissions by members of the Public
3.1 Clause 1 – The Long title
Members expressed that the purpose of a short title is to give a short descriptive summary of the subject matter of the Act. Hence, it was felt that the current title is weak and does not embrace the full purpose of the proposed law. It was the view that the purpose of the NPRC Bill and what it intends to achieve has to be stated clearly in the Long title.
3.2 Clause 2: Interpretation
The interpretation section was viewed as being shallow and not aiding in the interpretation of words used in the Bill. For instance, members of the public cited the definition of ‘dispute’ that was equated to ‘conflict’ which was then defined to mean any dispute or conflict of a kind within the scope of the Commission’s constitutional mandate, which Constitution however does not provide a definition of a conflict. Stakeholders also noted that major terms used in a conflict situation are not defined in this Bill.
3.3 Clause 3: Powers, Procedures and Functions of
Stakeholders raised concerns on the failure by the Bill to clearly categorise, list and define the functions of the Commission, its powers, procedures for handling complaints up to the stage of acquittal or conviction and conditions under which one is granted amnesty. It was a strong view that the functions of the Commission are not corresponding with the powers of the Commission.
3.4 Clause 4: Independence of the Commission
Stakeholders expressed concerns about the extent of the independence of the Commission in circumstances where the Minister of National Security is allowed to lodge a certificate to the effect that the disclosure of any evidence or document or class of evidence or documentation is, in his or her opinion, contrary to the public interest. Some concerns were also raised on the role of the Minister in the setting up of the secretariat arguing that this was some form of interference with the functions of the commission eroding its independence.
3.5 Clause 5: Seal of the Commission
3.6 Clause 6: Offices and operations of Commission
A strong view was expressed that there is need for a clause sanctioning decentralisation by setting up offices even in very remote areas to ensure equal access to justice by all.
3.7 Clause 7: Removal of Members from Office
3.8 Clause 8: Investigative Functions of Commission
Stakeholders took issue with Clause 8 (1) and submitted that it is vague, embarrassing and non-specific in that it does not define the nature of the dispute or conflict or of the action or the omission or what it means by authority and/or person. The public indicated that the nature of the dispute or issues to be investigated by the Commission must be described with sufficient detail so that the functions of the commission are transparent and clear to all. It was also submitted that its functions must be clearly demarcated from that of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.
Concerns were also raised regarding Clause 8 (3) which acknowledges the due court processes under civil proceedings but negates to do the same for criminal proceedings which implies that the
Commission can proceed to investigate matters before criminal courts. The argument raised by stakeholders is that transitional justice systems are put in place where the judicial system is inadequate and/or unable. Subjecting the same person to two parallel systems is against established legal practice especially in criminal matters.
3.9 Clause 9: Manner of conducting investigations
3.5.1 There was general discontent with this clause which affords perpetrators of violence, dispute or conflict, 14 working days to respond to the allegations raised in writing to the Commission. This period was viewed to be too long, thereby providing suspects with an opportunity to destroy evidence, abscond or intimidate witnesses since they will not be in custody or detention.
Clause 9 (4) of the new Bill regarding legal representation for people appearing before the Commission at their expense, is a condition that was viewed as prone to manipulation and abuse by those with financial resources.
3.5.4 Clause 9 (12)
3.6 Clause 10: Compellability of witnesses and inadmissibility of incriminating evidence given before
3.7 Clause 11: Appearance before Commission
3.8 Clause 12: Other Offences
3.9 Clause 13: Staff of Commission
3.10 Clause 16: Funds of Commission
Concerns were raised on the import of consulting the Minister regarding donations to the Commission. This was viewed as eroding the independence of the commission.
4.0 Committee Findings and Recommendations
4.1 The Committee notes that the Short title of the Bill does not give a descriptive summary of the subject matter of the Bill. The need to have a short title that gives a descriptive summary of the mischief the
law is trying to cure is recommended. The Committee believes the South African Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995 is very informative in this regard.1
4.2 There is need to have an interpretation section that defines key terms in accordance with internationally accepted standards. In its present format, the Bill does not define a victim, conflict, dispute, amnesty, perpetrator, post-conflict justice, torture and reconciliation among other terms. The interpretation section is too weak and evidently shows poor drafting.
4.3 Powers of the Commission must directly correspond with its
4.4 It is the Committee’s view that the issuance of a Ministerial certificate in the public interest is universal practice necessary for the preservation of law and order. As such, while some members of the public expressed reservations with this, it is a clause that is necessary for effective governance and maintenance of peace which are key state functions.
4.5 The Committee noted that in the event that the Commission is operationalised, its offices should be decentralised. Having this clause in the Bill, effectively provides a legal instrument to compel the commission to open offices closer to the people.
4.6 It is the Committee’s finding that the Bill as earlier stated does not adequately define its terms and references. There is need to clearly define and list the functions of the Commission vis-a-vis the functions of the ZHRC. Notably also, is the fact that the Commission’s operations are only limited to civil proceedings before the court but by implication, the Bill suggests that the Commission proceed to entertain a matter that is pending and/or ongoing in the criminal matters.
4.7 Regarding the 14 day period afforded suspects to respond in writing by the Commission, it is the Committee’s view that the Constitution in terms of section 70, affords such persons rights to adequately prepare for their defence. As such, the 14 day period is considered to be reasonable and justifiable in a democratic society as ours.
Again in terms of section 69 (4) of the Constitution, it affords anyone the right at their own expense to choose and be represented by a legal practitioner before any court, tribunal or forum. As such, it is the
Committee’s recommendation that this provision be upheld.
4.8 Regarding donations to the Commission, it is the
Committee’s view that any nation would safeguard its independence and sovereignty by ensuring that donations from hostile nations or organisations meant to foment discontent are not allowed.
4.9 As a general observation, it is noted that the Bill is silent on gender and there is a need for a specific gender section. It is recommended that a separate section must be inserted on gender. This section must set up a gender unit or similar mechanism of choice which will do the following:
- Develop specific guidelines and rules on how the
Commission will incorporate gender into its work;
- Develop strategies to encourage the participation of women, girls and other marginalised groups in the work of the Commission; and
- Facilitate gender equity into the structure of the Commission.
Generally the Bill did not receive wide acceptance from the members of the public. More specifically, the Bill did not deal with legal issues pertaining to previous amnests granted, and the period which the Commission has jurisdiction over. Also, the Bill failed to define salient terms and references, particularly the issues to do with perpetrators and victims. It is silent on the procedures to be used in ascertaining one’s status as a perpetrator and/or victim. At the centre of any healing process are victims. The Constitution states in section 252 that healing is one of the functions of the NPRC. It further talks about providing rehabilitative treatment and support to victims and survivors.
This healing cannot be achieved if victims are left in the margins of the process. I thank you.
HON. GONESE: Thank you very much Madam Speaker Ma’am.
I would like to contribute to this debate on the Bill which was introduced in this august House. At the very outset Madam Speaker Ma’am, I would like to point out that the Hon. Vice President, who is in charge of peace and reconciliation does not seem to be committed to the issue – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – To begin with, he is not even here to pilot the Bill itself. He was not even here when the Bill was read a second time. Instead, this was done on his behalf by the Hon. Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
I have looked at the Second Reading Speech, which was presented to this august House and with due respect Madam Speaker Ma’am, this is really very shallow. The purpose of a Second Reading Speech is to outline the principles to indicate the mischief which the Bill intends to cure. Alas! Madam Speaker, this Second Reading Speech, all it does is to regurgitate what is in the Preamble of the Bill. It does not tell us why we need to have this commission, what the motivation is, the history of our country, which led the framers of our Constitution to include this Commission as part of the Independent Commissions supporting democracy.
I therefore wish to submit that it is very disappointing that the Hon. Vice President does not seem to have any interest in the principles and objectives for which the Commission is being established. That is my starting point.
When you look at the Second Reading Speech, all it has done is to give us a summary of the relevant Clauses. It does not speak to the real issues and the real issues are that; sadly in this country we have had a history of conflict and we are looking at the very beginning when this country was colonised, even going back to the time when we had to liberate ourselves. Issues of conflict arose in the liberation of this country, resulting in the policy of reconciliation in 1980. Unfortunately, even after attaining our independence, we have had a sad history of a lot of conflicts. We have the Gukurahundi incidents which happened in Matebeleland and in the Midlands.
Madam Speaker, after every election, we have had issues of violence, particularly in 2000, 2002 and also in June of 2008. Those are some of the issues which we want to address so that we can bring genuine reconciliation amongst the people of this country. This was the motivation that led the framers of the current Constitution to see it necessary to include in the provisions of the Constitution, the need for a Commission to look after or deal with those matters with the objective to ensure that such incidents do not recur. This will ensure that once and for all we can say that in future, going forward we are not going to have another situation where the people of this country are going to be involved in those kinds of disputes or conflicts.
The second issue I would like to raise Madam Speaker Ma’am arises from the fact that the Executive does not seem to be taking this issue very seriously. If you look at the fact that our Constitution was adopted in 2013 and it is now almost four years down the line. We have had a Commission whose members were appointed more than two years ago and yet when the original Bill was brought before this august House, it was blatantly unconstitutional. It was clear to all and sundry that the drafters of the Bill were not taking us seriously. In all the public hearings that we had in this country, that issue was raised about the unconstitutionality of the Bill. What did the Hon. Vice President do?
He simply withdrew the Bill and for more than a year nothing happened. One would have expected that since the issues were very clear and straightforward, what simply needed to be done was to cure the mischief that had led to the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC), among others, to issue an Adverse Report which had also led to members of the public to reject the Bill. One would have expected the Hon. Vice President to have moved with speed to ensure that this Bill came before us as a matter of urgency to enable the Commission to carry out its work.
Be that as it may Madam Speaker, I would actually endeavour to say that the Commission is in fact created by the Constitution. At the end of the day, if one looks at the provisions, I think it is on Section 252, it is clear that because of that establishment by the supreme law of this country there is really nothing that should have prevented the Commission from carrying out its work. Again, it is Section 342, goes further to give the parameters under which some of these Commissions can operate. I am at a loss as to why it has taken this long for the Hon.
Vice President to have ensured that the Bill is brought to this august House timeously.
Again, Madam Speaker, I want to reiterate the point that the Executive is not taking this issue very seriously. You are aware that the former Chairperson of the Commission, Mr. Cyril Ndebele died some time last year. Up to now, he has not been replaced. The Constitution is very clear, the requirements for that appointment is simply for His
Excellency to consult the Judicial Services Commission as well as the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, after that consultation to appoint a Chairperson of the Commission. It is clear that this has not been done simply because the Executive does not have any interest in having these issues which are really fundamental and necessary to enable us to move forward and not have another scenario where people can just perpetrate acts of violence with impunity.
The purposes of having transitional justice is to ensure that when those incidence would have occurred, we have a process of reconciliation, a process of justice, a process of healing so that in future you are not going to have a recurrence. It is clear to me that here we have a situation where the Executive does not have any interest in having that to happen.
Having said that, I will now go to the Bill itself. The problems which we had first time have not been fully cured. As I have already pointed out the problems that arose first time around where some of the issues which I have already alluded to - where you had poor drafting and lawyers coming up or crafting provisions which even a kangaroo court presiding officer would have been able to point out that this is clearly in violation of the provisions of the Constitution. That poor drafting, there was an attempt to deal with those issues which were fundamentally unconstitutional but however, we still have some issues of poor drafting.
I will just allude to two particular clauses.
If you look at Clause 10 (1) of the Bill which talks about persons who appear before the Commission, it is clear that any person who is questioned by the Commission in the exercise of its powers shall be compelled to produce an article and it goes on. That same provision is duplicated in Clause 11 which again states “any person who is questioned by the Commission in the exercise of its…” word for word. You just wonder as to whether these people were fast asleep or whatever. This is something which is a cause for concern. That duplication you also see it when you look at the First Schedule. Clause 2 (1) talks about provision of the Constitution and talks about the appointment of members on a renewable basis. This again is duplicated in sub-clause (4). You find that you have those errors of poor drafting.
However, that is not the end of the matter. The other issues have already been pointed by the Chairperson of the Committee. It is really unfortunate that when you have a Bill of this nature, you would really expect it to focus principally on the victims and survivors. When you look at this Bill, it is very sad that no emphasis is placed on those people who are really the critical persons we want to deal with, the people who would have suffered as a result of any acts of violence. It is important that this be rectified when we get to the Committee Stage so that you have clear definitions which are incorporated in the Bill, in particular, when it comes to issues of victims and survivors.
Another issue where sufficient attention and sufficient detail has not been given applies to the issue of gender. It is very clear that when you have conflict situations, the sufferers and major victims of such incidences are usually the women. If you look at most of the crimes which are committed in conflict situations, you look at rape and offences of a sexual nature, they are perpetrated against women. Even when you look at situations where heads of households die and so on, usually it is the women who are left to look after the children when the father has been killed in conflict situations. I would have expected that any serious mover of a Bill of this nature would have given sufficient detail to issues relating to women who usually are the biggest sufferers when it comes to matters of this nature. I would therefore implore- unfortunately he is not here and I am just hoping and praying that he is going to read the Hansard. I know he never comes to Parliament anyway. I am just hoping that his co-pilot, the other Hon. Vice President will indicate to him that he must read the Hansard so that he can take into account the submissions which are going to be made by Members of Parliament and in particular by the Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and try to take them on board so that we can have an improvement on this Bill.
Another cause for concern is that here we are talking of an
Independent Commission which is set up in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the independence of that Commission is paramount. Here we have a situation where there are six references to consultation with the Minister. You wonder what role does the Minister have to play here. The Minister is not part of the Constitution in so far as matters of healing are concerned. As far as I am concerned, if it is the wish of the Executive to have a Minister who is also responsible for the issues relating to healing and so on, the role of that Minister must be subordinate because that role is not enshrined in the Constitution unlike the role of the Commission. I therefore, believe that the requirement that for instance when the Commission is setting up its secretariat, it is obliged to consult not just the Minister of Finance and Economic Development but also the Minister responsible for healing should be set aside. It should be removed and expunged from the Bill. It has no place where you are talking of an Independent Commission. There should be no need for the Minister to be consulted. If he has nothing to do, then he must be assigned other duties and responsibilities which have nothing to do with issues relating to national healing which can be adequately dealt with and covered by the Commission itself which is set up in terms of our Constitution.
Again Madam Speaker, another matter for concern is that, you then have the provision which says ‘in consultation with’. I think it will be preferable to perhaps say ‘after consultation’ if there is any need for a consultation at all which is obviously a weaker provision in so far as the obligation is concerned. In so far as the acceptance of donations and so on, I again believe that, yes, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in terms of the Bill has to be consulted. I believe that it must be made clear in terms of how the Bill is crafted that the Commission itself is able to get donations from people who are willing assist because it is common cause that this country is broke, that the fiscus is not able to sufficiently fund all the Independent Commissions that are established in terms of the Constitution.
I believe that the Commission is composed of persons of integrity who are selected after a rigorous process. As I have already pointed out, the Chairperson is appointed by His Excellency, the President and the other eight members of the Commission are appointed after adverts are placed in our national newspapers and interviews conducted by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. Obviously, when those interviews are conducted, I believe that the Commissioners who are going to be produced are going to be persons of integrity. We must give wide latitude to accept donations from whoever they feel is going to assist them in the execution of their duties and I believe that they should not be unnecessarily hindered from accepting those donations.
My last point relates to the issue of Ministerial Certificates. I know that at least there has been an improvement that the Commission has got power to decide whether to uphold the issuance of a Ministerial Certificate. I believe that it should be completely expunged from the Bill – in any event public interests are not even defined in the Bill. So, in other words we are giving a blank cheque to the Minister of State Security to interfere in the operations of the Commission. I wish to submit Madam Speaker, that that power to issue a ministerial certificate should be removed altogether, we do not need it.
If you look at the hearings envisaged in terms of the provisions of the commission, I believe that we are coming up with a scenario where we are having proceedings of too much of a formal nature. I believe that when you are dealing with issues of mediation, issues of trying to bring about national healing, we need to have a process which is as informal
as possible. If you look at what happened in Rwanda where they had their local courts called Gacaca courts and I believe that this is something which we must be envisaging, a scenario where you do not have formal hearings taking place so that the provisions in the Bill make it clear that what we are having is a situation where we are going to have issues of negotiation, mediation which are done in as informal a manner as possible which will allow members of the public, people who have been victimized to come forward without fear so that they can say what they have gone through. Hopefully, the commission will then be able to make the appropriate recommendations. It is for these reasons that I believe that the concept is good but what it entails is for us to have a full commitment which unfortunately and which very sadly is lacking on the part of the Executive. I would like to implore the Executive to at least take into account the spirit of the Constitution which led to the establishment of the Commission. Thank you.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you very much
Madam Speaker. Let me start by saying, I am hoping that as we get into this debate we can be as frank and perhaps as brutally frank as we can. If we do not, we will not be able to get to the bottom of what this is all about.
I want to join my colleagues and chairperson in saying the general view that we got was not that people did not want the Bill; the general thing that we got was that people wanted the Bill but they wanted a Bill that made sense and this particular Bill was not making sense both in the way it was drafted and the manner in which the contents and the issues therein where expressed.
Before I get into why I am saying so Madam Speaker, let me just say to you that the anger that we faced when we went for this public hearing is amazing. It is unfortunate that we are unable to bring the audio tapes or the electronic taps…
HON. MLISWA: On a point of order! Madam Speaker, this
debate is very serious, I saw Members of Parliament from the other side, especially women, going out, what for, I do not know. The Masvingo election is done. So, what are they going to talk about - I do not know
THE TEMPORARAY SPEAKER (MS. DZIVA): I think there
is no point of order.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Madam Speaker, I was
speaking to the anger that we found and to some extent, just this last comment by the colleague is relevant because I think if the people that we met actually had a way of sitting and watching the way we are debating this, they would be very disappointed. For many of them, it speaks of their lived realities, their day to day lived realities. It is unfortunate that as a nation we have gotten to a point where issues of conflict, healing, issues that should be bringing us together, we do not care much about them, we are so used to just living life as life without necessarily understanding where people are coming from.
Madam Speaker, for me the debate and the public hearing showed me a divided nation, an extremely dived nation - divided in a number of ways. Firstly, divided in the appreciation and understanding of the issues that happened in the pre-colonial era, divided in the issues about what happened in the post colonial era and divided around the issues that happened just after independence and what is currently happening today. I think that is the unfortunate part about this particular Bill, whoever is drafting the Bill has just thought it is mechanical, business as usual without dealing with what exactly we want to address and you are not finding what exactly we want to address. Are we trying to do a truth and reconciliation commission, we are trying to just create a certain institution that is going to be dealing with issues generally about healing. So unlike my other colleagues, I actually think the disappointment is in that after the first time where we took this particular Bill for people to speak, those issues have not been brought in because the basic thing that people said is that do not give us something that is not talking about truth. Our concern is somebody who comes back and said this is the truth about what happened during Gukurahundi, this is the truth about what happened during the liberation struggle.
The unfortunate thing that has happened with this Bill is that the moment people hear about National Peace and Reconciliation, the first thing that comes to their mind is Gukurahundi. Unfortunately it stops you from thinking. If you go step by step, you should be saying to yourself why is it today we are still talking about war veterans not getting anything and not being supported. It is because we never dealt with the issue around reconciliation, we would have said, what is it that we are going to do about those that participated in the struggle and the pains that they experienced during the liberation struggle - nothing like that happened, so we have not debated that, we have not debated what happened immediately after independence. I am prepared Madam Speaker because these are some of the very uncomfortable conversation that we started facing. I remember and I hope some of my colleagues who were at the hearing also remember this, a very young woman standing up in Bulawayo, saying this war between amaShona lamaNdebele can only be described in this manner yikulwa kukaSatan loJehovah – it can never finish. This is a young person who was not there during the Gukurahundi era but the pain is about what she is dealing with in terms of the marginalisation that she lives with on a daily basis.
So, until you address the problems and issues that people are facing, you will not deal with this. To play around and pretend that you have a national peace and reconciliation when you are not dealing with the issues of transitional justice which are issues of who has gotten land, jobs and resources in this country, it is why you could clearly separate the issues that were being raised in Matabeleland and Mashonaland regions.
For example, I remember when we went to Mashonaland West and somebody in the group was standing up and saying, ‘Stop talking about Gukurahundi, after all the maNdebele people took inkomo zethu and our wives.’ At a very basic level, it is a very upsetting statement for some of us but it is a real statement. I am saying if that is the reason why the people of Matabeleland today continue to suffer marginalisation because there were cattle and women that were taken – then let us talk about it. And if there is supposed to be reparation of the cattle coming back to Mashonaland, let those cattle come back then we can go back to the issues that we are talking about. I do not know what we are going to do with the women that were supposedly taken. We cannot have them and take them back.
In reality, we cannot pretend that certain things are being said and we ignore them. If it is a general feeling that somebody thinks it is justified to continue to oppress and subject a particular tribe on the basis that you believe that there were cattle and women that were taken away
– then let us deal with it. Unfortunately, this Bill does not deal with that. So, it is a useless Bill as far as we are concerned because that Bill is supposed to be talking about why when you go into Matabeleland you necessarily find people who are angry? They are angry because of certain things that are being done systematically.
Madam Speaker, if you look at Section 18 of our Constitution, as we drafted that Constitution, we put in a provision around equality of regions because there was an understanding and appreciation that the issue around inequality was important. Inequality comes from the fact that historically, people believe and live through the realities that they are not being treated fairly. If you go to an interpretation stage and do not find a definition of why there is a need for reconciliation, then we are talking nonsense.
I have said in this House, and I am glad the Hon. Vice President Mnangagwa is here - when I raised the issue around the reburials of people who were killed during the Gukurahundi era, the Vice President, at that stage said to the House, we will facilitate for those that want to do the burials. As I speak to you right now, if anybody is trying to have a memorial service, not a reburial – to basically just get people in a community to talk about what happened and how they think, they are arrested and stopped from having those conversations taking place yet those people watch day in and day out here in Mashonaland, people sitting down and saying we are doing reburials. How do you think those people feel?
For me, these are the issues that we are supposed to deal with. If we pretend that there are no ethnic issues, we are joking and not being serious. When we are here, let us not talk about Matabeleland and
Mashonaland – let us talk about here in Mashonaland. The Zezuru and
Karanga divide – completely there and we live with it in this very
House. We have those major differences about whether you are Karanga or Zezuru and who is in control of what resources at this particular point in time and what it means. Let us not pretend that those are not realities that we are talking about. If we do not include the issues around ethnic conversations and how we are going to deal with it, day in and day out, we are going to be dealing with them. We are going to be saying to ourselves, ‘MaZezuru ambotongawo, tavekuda kuti maKaranga ambotonga.’ That is the debate that is there and if we continue to pretend that the debate is not there, we are lying to each other.
I think it is important that in terms of a way forward, we do not play around with this if we really intend to do a proper truth and reconciliation process. Let us go back and look at what happened in
Rwanda, like Hon. Gonese was saying. They said to themselves, ‘We are going to do a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and it will mean that truth is about dealing with the things that we are unhappy and uncomfortable about. We will have to deal with issues of will there be arrests or amnesty? We cannot have situations were amnesty is given; part of the problems that we have right now is, if we go to post 2000, there are people who murdered people during the general elections, arrested, convicted yet they were given an amnesty. Every other day, when you declare some of them heroes, people are upset. They are hurt because they know that these people have a particular history that they have had before.
Trust me, people may get away with it now in the current context but the generations that are going to be coming tomorrow and in the future – this thing will come back. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- The children of those who were murdered will also come back to murder because you are not going to be in power in perpetuity. There will be a time that you will be out of power and when you are out of power, that person who comes in and is in control is going to come back and deal with you. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- We need to be able to understand and appreciate that particular aspect.
Madam Speaker, as a Committee, which is one of the things that was missing in our report, had an opportunity to visit South Africa and Kenya and do an analysis around what happened. In both areas, we found that whilst South Africa had done a good job around truth and reconciliation, they had not dealt with some of the fundamental issues around transitional justice which is why in South Africa today they are beginning to have serious divisions and contradictions around policy issues, issues of land and the redistribution of land and resources … -
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections. ]-
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Members,
may Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga be heard in silence. I think those who wish to engage in private conversations can do so outside the House.
HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: I am just giving you an
example of South Africa that whilst South Africa dealt with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, one of the lessons that we learnt from there is that it was too limited because it just dealt with the things that had happened during the apartheid era. It did not deal with the fundamental issues around transitional justice, resource allocation - who is getting what and if something does not happen well, there is going to be a disaster in South Africa. I think we should learn from that particular aspect and not allow things to continue to fester and hope that they will go away. They will not go away Madam Speaker, as at one stage those things will come back to bite us.
We went to Kenya, for example, Kenya did the same. They had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) but they failed to organise it in a way that they would then say we have done a TRC but how are we going to implement the issues that are coming out of the TRC and up till now, they are grappling with those issues. So in Kenya, things may seem to be working well but the issues around ethnic problems are still there. The fortunate thing about some of these countries is an acknowledgement that they have a problem. The sad thing about Zimbabwe is the denialism that we have, a pretence that we have no problems. So you will have somebody sitting here and saying, but in our country we have not had conflict; in our country we do not have ethnic problems yet we know that if we are organising our factions, we are doing so on the basis of ethnicity. Why are we pretending that it is not a problem that we are having? Let us deal with it and deal with it once and for all.
I gave an example, which is on my favourite subject, around the issues of war veterans and gender. Madam Speaker, when I went back to look at, for example, those who were at the Lancaster House
Constitution, I found out that there was a woman called Kadungure. She was the only woman who was there and it was noted. I do not know whether that woman is there right now and I do not know whether she died. I do not know what her circumstances were but I am giving that example in that it is clear because we never had a conversation about what happened during the liberation struggle that perhaps those that really participated, worked and suffered are the ones that are not being acknowledged today.
It is because we never really did a truth and reconciliation process. I am saying what we noticed during the hearings is that we have a bigger problem than what we are talking about here. We have an angry society and in fact, most of us were being abused. They said, you are wasting money and they were right - you came here last year and you said to us let us talk about this Bill; now you are coming back again with this Bill and for us it has not changed anything fundamentally in terms of what we have done.
So, if we do not want to have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, let us just come back here and be honest that we do not want to have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We will have it when every one of us who are leaders today and who are governing have gone and we forget about it. Let us not pretend that we want to have a
National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.
In conclusion Madam Speaker, let me give you this warning. We are going to have a huge uprising in this country and that uprising is going to come from the generality of the people who are not beneficiaries of the assets that people are using every other day. We will have people in the streets burning homes and burning everything else because the language of speaking will not have worked. We are going to have an uprising in the area around issues of ethnicity. We will pretend to talk about it right now but I can tell you as somebody who comes from that region that one day you will have a situation where people will stand up and they will say anyone who is not coming from here, we will hack to death and we will beat up.
You will not have an excuse for it because they keep giving you warnings and warnings and you are refusing to deal with issues that they are raising. I thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. CHASI: Thank you Madam Speaker – [AN. HON.
MEMBER: Inaudible interjections.] -
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. DZIVA): I have
discretion as the Speaker in Chair right and now so, I recognise Hon.
HON. MAJOME: On a point of order Madam Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
HON. MAJOME: My point of order is, I had been recognised by the previous Speaker. While I do venerate the authority that you wield in that Chair, from a privilege point of view, I had been recognised by the previous Speaker. I have no doubt about your authority Madam Speaker but what happens is that the procedure where a member has been recognised to speak next; not that it is actually in the Hansard, does that not matter at all? What then happens to my turn to speak because I had been recognised that I would speak after Hon.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I understand
where you are coming from. It is a matter of discretion and at this stage, I am the one in the Chair and I have recognised Hon. Chasi. I will give you a chance after that.
HON. MLISWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Your point of order Hon.
Mliswa must be supported by the Standing Rules and Orders. So, in accordance to what Standing Order are you raising your point of order?
HON. MLISWA: No, in fact my point of order is; what you are saying too, must be supported by Standing Rules and Orders. You talked about discretion, where in the Standing Rules and Orders does it say that you use your discretion to overrule somebody? We are a House of rules, the rules apply to you and to us. Where in the Standing Rules and Orders does it say that the Chair can use discretion because we are a House of rules. Which Standing Order are you using in terms of that discretion you are talking about?
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: The Chair’s ruling is final.
HON. MLISWA: But the other Chair had ruled.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I am the Speaker.
HON. MLISWA: It is on record in the Hansard because she said that Hon. Majome and me.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, you are out of
order, I am the Speaker right now and I make decisions – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I am not representing anyone, I am the Speaker right now and I have made a ruling.
HON. CHASI: Thank you very much Madam Speaker – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I am just waiting to have your attention Madam Speaker. This is a very important Bill and I have great difficulty in supporting it from any angle whatsoever and from a technical drafting point of view, it is a disaster. I have great respect for the Attorney General’s Office. I have worked with them, they are a very hard working office; they are technically sound but with respect to thisb Bill, they have failed us. I think those that have spoken before me have spoken in connection with section 1, the interpretation section. Even members of the public, when we went round for the public hearings, were able to see that there was no interpretation section. I think it had two words that were meant to constitute an interpretation section. There was no interpretation section in that Bill.
If you look at the level of interest in the Bill, those that have spoken about the level of interest have spoken very well and have indicated that there does not appear to be interest; any level of meaningful interest in this Bill by those that are meant to be piloting it at all. The period intervening between the first time the Bill came to Parliament and this time around does not reflect the necessary level of interest. The content itself does not reflect the seriousness that the public I think take of the content and the nature of the material that we are talking about. So, I think the level of anger that we witnessed when we went around the country, is pertinent to mention. Going around the country, it was very clear that the public viewed us with a great deal of suspicion that we were playing with their time and that we were complicity in the delays, that we were not serious as Parliament in terms of what is...
HON. MLISWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker, in terms of
Standing Order No. 56 – [Laughter.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order in the House, I have not
yet recognised you.
HON. MLISWA: Rule 56 talks of the quorum of the House; the quorum of the House is not enough for us to continue. As such, I am bringing this in terms of Standing Order Rule 56. I thank you. We are not enough – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: According to the point of
order raised by Hon. Mliswa, I will allow Parliament to take necessary procedures so as to make sure that the House had a quorum. If it does not, we will adjourn the House. I will allow them to ring the bells for seven minutes.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Chasi, you may continue
with your debate.
HON. CHASI: Madam Speaker, I really do not want to repeat. Most of the points have been raised by those that have spoken before me. The points relating to the ministerial certificates are pertinent and I do not want to repeat them. I just want to say overally, it is not a supported Bill. It is not clear in terms of timelines, its import and it is not clear as to when it is meant to commence. I agree with what most of the Speakers before me have mentioned. I want to repeat that I have difficulty in supporting it. I thank you.
HON. MAJOME: Thank you Madam Speaker for according me
this opportunity to speak. I do not take your indulgence lightly and I thank you. I want to also lend my voice to support what was said by our
Hon. Chairperson and my colleagues from the Portfolio Committee.
Hon. Madam Speaker, in debating this particular Bill...
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, can Hon.
Majome be heard in silence. You will be given a chance to debate if you like the issue.
HON. MAJOME: In debating this particular Bill, I wish to possibly begin on a point of privilege. With the absence of the Hon. Minister, I would like to inquire if there are any officials who work in the office of His Excellency, the President and Cabinet and particularly Hon. Mphoko’s Ministry because they do not appear to be here.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I will allow them to give me
some feedback but from what I can see, I do not see anyone on the back.
HON. MAJOME: So with that Hon. Madam Speaker, I will beg
for your assistance. This is because it is a point of privilege, as was raised by Hon. Gonese. The Hon. Minister who sponsored the Bill is not here, who is the Vice President and there is not a single official from their Ministry to debate this. The question is how often do Bills from the organ on Healing and Reconciliation come to this Parliament, the point is that this is very rare. So Madam Speaker, I would wish it put on record and hope that Hon. Members of Parliament take very strong exception to the attitude of the Executive in not valuing the processes of this Parliament.
As we are now, Hon. Members where we are debating, we raise certain issues in connection with the attitude of the Office of the Hon. Minister regarding issues of healing and reconciliation and also the attitude of the Hon. Minister with respect to him about his attitude and understanding of what an Independent Commission should or should not do. That attitude will be critical in the success of this Commission in its operations. If the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission is going to enjoy its independence as envisaged and indeed as demanded by the Constitution...
HON. ADV. CHAMISA: On a point of privilege. From the
Standing Rules and Orders, we are given the powers as individual Members of Parliament. If there is a point we feel impinges or encroaches our right to privilege in this House, this issue has already been indicated by Hon. Chasi, the Chair, Hon. Ziyambi and Hon.
Mliswa. I do not think it is sufficient to say we will have the Minister reading the Hansard. Yes, he can read the Hansard but he will not be able to understand and read the body language and the emotions of Hon. Members. This is a serious national debate. It can only be a debate by all of us.
We know that the Vice President is busy but inasmuch as he is busy, the Minister of State could also come in. –[inaudible interjections.]- We are saying perhaps he is busy but Hon. Speaker, you know that it is good practice that when we are debating such important Bills, we always have technical officials. I can see that there is none. The seats are vacant and it tells you one thing. It is either there is no seriousness by individuals who have been entrusted by Government to deal with this Bill because we cannot allow a situation whereby serious debates are undertaken in Parliament about serious national issues in the absence of those serious national offices.
So, Hon. Speaker, it is my plea that we either summon as
Parliament, because we cannot just be speaking to ourselves. We do not want echoes that are going to the caves, mountains and walls. We want echoes that are going to the corridors of power so that when we speak truth to power, power gives power to truth. As it is, we are just speaking truth to power but there is no power to listen to our truth. So, what are we doing? We are not expecting you Hon. Speaker to burden yourself under these circumstances but let us have the relevant authority.
The Vice President should be here so that we are able to give justice and good effect to the spirit in the Constitution. This is a very important Commission and we would want the Minster or the Vice President to be here. This is a plea that I am making and I know that the plea has the majority support of all progressive Members of Parliament.
This is not a partisan call, it is a patriotic call. This is not an MDC or a ZANU PF issue, it is a Zimbabwean issue.
The issues that are being raised, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga raised issues that are very touching and these issues require that we have the hearts of the rulers of the land. If we do not turn the hearts of the rulers of the land, we may not be able to turn the hearts that are crying and wipe off the tears on the chicks of many Zimbabweans who are literaly crying for justice. So, Hon. Speaker, I seek your indulgence and the indulgence of this Committee that on this one, let us summon, or may be summoning is too strong a word, but let us kindly request the Hon. Vice President to be present or to avail himself for this important debate – and the Minister of State to be here so that we are able to engage them on this progressive national discourse. Hon. Speaker, I so state and place on the table. Thank you very much.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. DZIVA): I wish to
respond before you can raise your point of order. I note with great concern the matter of privilege that has been raised by Hon. Majome and Hon. Chamisa. I think it is important for Hon. Ministers to be responsible when they are carrying out their duties. However, I have been advised by Parliament that the Vice President had made an apology. He has gone to Bulawayo on national duty, so they asked if it could be debated and through the Hansard they will respond after tomorrow – [HON. MEMBERS: No, no.] – I think if we agree, we can adjourn this debate to tomorrow when he comes back and Hon.
Members can debate in his presence [HON. MEMBERS: Yes.] –
HON. MLISWA: Madam Speaker, just to say this; we are constantly accused of not being efficient as Members of Parliament. You in the Chair have always told us you have written to His Excellency over the conduct of the Ministers. Up to now you have not told us what His Excellency has said. We continue doing this everyday and it becomes a game. Next time can we get a response from you pertaining to the letter that the Speaker wrote to the President pertaining to the conduct of the Ministers who are not here?
Hon. Vice President Mnangagwa, if I am not mistaken is the Acting President and I respect his conduct to duty. He is so disciplined to it. why can the other Hon. Vice President not do the same? He equally has a Minister in his office who is Hon. Tabeth Malinga Kanengoni. To me, if Hon. Mnangagwa is not here, we see Hon. Sibanda presenting issues, why can he not learn from Hon. Vice President Mnangagwa on the way he conducts his duty, maybe he can learn. I think he needs to go for some schooling from the Presidium pertaining to his conduct as Hon. Vice President. If he is not available, his responsible Minister must be able to represent him.
According to the Section 107 (2) of the Constitution, “Every Vice President, Minister and Deputy Minister must attend Parliament and parliamentary committees in order to answer questions concerning matters for which he or she is collectively or individually responsible.”
So, the responsible Ministers are not here. In support of Hon. Chamisa’s submission, who are we debating to, who are we talking to? Thank you
– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. I have to
respond to the point of order raised by Hon. Mliswa. Hon. Mliswa, I think I gave a ruling on the matter. The Office of the Vice President and the Ministry of National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation had communicated with Parliament that they had another engagement in Bulawayo, they are absent. We have heard it and we have had a ruling and we are going to debate this issue when the Vice President is present.
However, I had recognised Hon. Majome to debate on the issue, so I will allow Hon. Majome to finish her debate – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – if she is comfortable – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order Hon. Members.
HON. MAJOME: Hon. Madam Speaker as I raise the point of privilege, I would want either the Hon. Minister as well as the State Official and at the very least, the officials from the Ministry to be here because I do not want to talk to myself. However, I have a point of order Madam Speaker. Do I have your assurance that when they come, I will have an opportunity to proceed with my debate? – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. Hon.
Members, I think the ruling has already been made and we have agreed that the debate can be adjourned.
HON. MATUKE: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. MUKWANGWARIWA: I second.
Hon. Mliswa having been speaking at the top of his voice.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, we are still in the House.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 10th May, 2017.
ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE
On the motion of HON. MATUKE seconded by HON.
MUKWANGWARIWA, the House adjourned at Twelve Minutes past
Four o’clock pm.