'Are we mad to have one radio station?'

HARARE - From this week the Daily News will introduce a new column, Parliament Debates which will bring highlights on deliberations in the august House.

Our Parliamentary Editor, Chengetai Zvauya will bring you the inside story and update readers on issues debated by Members of Parliament from both houses

These are some of major issues debated in Parliament this week on Tuesday and Wednesday when Parliament was sitting.

A majority of them were raised during the question time.

Ban on portable radios

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara denounced police threats to raid non-governmental organisations distributing radios mostly in the rural areas.

Mutambara told legislators that police were not allowed to harass and detain organisations and people listening to the portable radios capable of accessing “pirate” radio stations such as Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa.

Mutambara was responding to questions from MDC legislators who expressed concern saying most of the victims were their supporters.

MDC legislator for Highfield West Simon Hove sparked off the debate when he asked Mutambara, who was leader of the house and answering questions on behalf of government ministers.

Hove said: “The question pertains to the statements that appeared in the newspaper of today (Wednesday) that the police had banned the acquisition or possession of radios.

I want to find out whether it is government policy for police to come up with laws of their own and then enforce them?

Mutambara told the House that the police raids were illegal as government believed in free flow of information.

“We believe in multiple channels of communication in the country. This is the information age. We are operating in the age of the ICT revolution.

“The age of Facebook, What Sapp and Twitter. It does not make sense for this country to have one TV station for example. Are we mad?” said Mutambara.

“How can this country have one TV station in this day and age when Kenya has seven local TV stations, when Malawi has four or five. I am saying we have to shape up or ship out in terms of the requirements of the global economy and globalisation,” said Mutambara.

“I venture to say the more the merrier in terms more newspapers and radio stations, and the more the merrier of TV stations, the better it is for everyone. Information is part of education, information is power under globalisation,” said Mutambara.
Traditional chiefs and politics

MDC MP for Nyanga South Willard Chimbetete wanted to know if traditional chiefs were allowed to participate in politics and coercing their subjects to vote for Zanu PF in elections.

“I have eight headmen who were sacked by the chief for belonging to the MDC party and they were replaced with eight Zanu PF headmen. Is this permissible?” asked Chimbetete.

Mutambara said he was going to read a riot act to the chiefs and stop them from participating in national politics.

“Our policy as government which has also been reinforced in the new constitution is that our chiefs in Zimbabwe should be non-partisan. Our chiefs in Zimbabwe must be above party politics.
“When we say that you are a chief, you are a chief of all political parties. You are chief of all churches; you are a chief on behalf of all races. The chief must be non-partisan; they must not campaign for one party. The chief is the unifying custodian of a community’s traditions and culture.

“Consequently, the three Principals, the President, the Prime Minister and I are going to meet the leaders of the Chiefs’ Council on this very subject.

“We have views and reservations about the reports that we are receiving about how the chiefs are exercising their authority in communities,” said Mutambara.

Collen Gwiyo MDC MP for Zengeza West posed the question of the Zimbabwean dollar, arguing that many people were demanding to be compensated their money they had lost during the dollarisation period in 2009.
“When are Zimbabweans likely going to be compensated their monies arising from the removal of zeroes, given the fact that the GNU is coming to its expiry?

What remedy is there for these people who have lost their money?” asked Gwiyo.

Mutambara said government was working on a plan to compensate the public that lost their money during the dollarisation period.

“Surely, you cannot say citizens who had cash in the banks and then we dollarised, they lost everything and up to now, we have not worked out an exchange rate to compensate them.

“These individuals have been victimised by my regime and I stand guilty as charged. It is a matter that must be addressed as soon as possible because now it is becoming a human rights issue,” said Mutambara.
“You cannot take citizens money and then for three to four years, you do not work out a mechanism to repay them.

“What I can say is I will commit this Government to addressing that matter, so that we are able to at least offer some compensation amount.

“Let us disagree on the exchange rate but there must be a transaction where individuals are compensated. We will take it up with the minister of Finance and get a specific date where that is going to be done,” said Mutambara.

‘Miracle prophets’

The church issue of Pastor Emmanuel Makandiwa’s miracles was discussed by legislators with Mutambara labelling them as dubious miracles.

Zanu PF for MP Mbire Constituency Paul Mazikana introduced the matter of ‘miracle babies’ and prophets who were coming up with a lot of dubious prophecies.

“The recent events in Zimbabwe where we have claims of miracles, for example, a three-day miracle baby would have been capitalised on to promote religious tourism in our country. Would government consider it?” queried Mazikana.

Mutambara said government did not believe in miracles but ran the country on law and science.

“We have better things to show, not miracle baby or miracle money. We have better things to share with the world in terms of culture, for example, Mbuya Nehanda, Great Zimbabwe.

“In terms of history, we can share with the world the Chinhoyi battle, Nyadzonia, Chimoio and so forth,” said Mutambara.

“That is why I was divided, because the idea of religious tourism to me fits into cultural tourism, historical tourism and social tourism.

“These are good concepts, but the basis of the question is a three-day-old miracle baby and miracle money dubious entities.

“We are better positioned to position our country around Great Zimbabwe, Mbuya Nehanda, Chaminuka, Matopo or Lobengula.

“We respect religion, we respect spirituality, but there are better things for us to showcase than what you have described as far as I am concerned we run the country on law and science not these dubious miracles,” said Mutambara.

Mutambara castigated the invasions of mines by Zanu PF legislators as he responded to a question by MDC MP for Mutasa South who wanted to know whether government supported the invasion act.

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi and fellow legislator Ivene Dzingirai (Chivi South) invaded Renco Mine last month arguing that it was a way to resolve a payment dispute between the mine workers and their employee.
Mzembi is Masvingo South legislator and Dzingirai is for Chivi South.

Posa amendment

Zanu PF legislators in the Senate blocked debate on Public Order and Security Amendment (Posa) Bill moved by MDC legislators and chief whips Innocent Gonese and Misheck Marava.

MDC wanted the Bill to be restored on the order paper after it had lapsed in the Fourth session without being debated.

Gonese wants Posa amended so as to make the police more accountable.

He had called for the reduction of police powers and accused them of selective application of the law in arresting people and banning meetings held in private.

MDC Senators in the Senate Chambers supported the motion as it would curtail police powers in line with democratic trends.

Zanu PF Senators led by Damian Mumvuri opposed to the motion being restored on the Order paper resulting in the division of the House and with the support of Chiefs got 28 votes opposed to MDC’s 16 votes.

Gonese said he was disappointed by outcome of Senate.

“I am going to move a motion in the House of Assembly to make a resolution on the matter since it had been adopted by the Lower house. It was not necessary for the Senate to block the restoration of the bill without debating,” said Gonese.

In the Fourth Session in January 2012, Gonese tabled a motion in the Senate to restore his motion to the order paper, but it was still not dealt with, and the motion lapsed when that Session ended in October 2012.
Posa’s first reading took place on February 2, 2010 and it was eventually passed by the House of Assembly on December 8, 2010 and sent to the Senate the same day.

During the Fourth session in the Senate, the minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chinamasa insisted that it would be wrong for the Senate to continue with the Bill when Posa reform was an item under negotiation by the Global Political Agreement (GPA) parties as part of the Roadmap to Elections.

Gonese agreed that the debate be adjourned, but emphasised that the Bill was not being withdrawn.

This was a repeat of the same incident when Senate was divided over the death penalty with MDC moving the motion to adopt the motion of opposing while Zanu PF objected to the motion.

Meanwhile, Parliament in both Houses paid tribute and condolences on the passing away of Vice President John Landa Nkomo, with both legislators making glowing remarks on his work as a national leader.
There were lighter moments in the public hearing when Dzingirai walked in to the committee room as Kasukuwere was giving evidence with members of Parliament shouting ‘Renco Mine’, as Dzingaira laughed it off taking his seat.

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