At President Mugabe’s request, the Speaker and the President of the Senate have recalled the House of Assembly and the Senate to sit from Tuesday 7th August, breaking their adjournment which was supposed to last to 3rd September.
Parliamentary Standing Orders permit the presiding officers to take this step at the request of the President if they are satisfied that the public interest so requires. In this case it is to ratify a Chinese Loan for Victoria Falls Airport Upgrading, "and urgent public business," according to the Clerk of Parliament's announcement of the recall late on 3rd August.
He gave no further details.Upgrading of the Victoria Falls airport is necessary ahead of next year’s United Nations World Tourism Organisation Congress.
If the deal was signed in April, it would have been sensible to bring it to Parliament any time since then while Parliament was still sitting, rather than the very costly recall of Parliament, which is a repeat of a similar recall again in May 2011, when a long adjournment was interrupted to allow the Minister of Defence to get Parliamentary approval of a controversial loan agreement between Zimbabwe and China to finance the construction of the National Defence College.
The recall coincided with a visit to Zimbabwe by a high-level Chinese military delegation. On that occasion MPs from both MDC formations complained that Parliamentarians were being railroaded into rubberstamping a transaction they had not had enough time to consider properly; and there was public outrage over the Government’s handling of the deal. But they still approved the loan.
Although the Clerk of Parliament did not mention what other business Parliament would deal with – it is permitted, by the Standing Orders used to recall Parliament, for the Houses to resume work on outstanding agenda items.
Some outstanding items still on the House of Assembly agenda include:
presentation of the report of the Privileges Committee on the contempt of Parliament charges against Mr Arafas Gwaradzimba;
Hon Sululu’s motion on the need for monitoring Government implementation of Portfolio Committee recommendations;
Hon Zhanda’s motion calling for a Parliamentary investigation into allegations of corruption at the Reserve Bank;
and Hon Musundire’s motion for the scrapping of the present Indigenisation Regulations; as well as “take note” motions for discussion of recent Portfolio Committee reports.
An important issue still to be dealt with in the Senate is the backlog of Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] adverse reports on statutory instruments. It would be regrettable to have a repeat of what happened at the end of the Third Session, when adverse reports, including one on an indigenisation SI, lapsed and were not heard of again.
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