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Parly business at a standstill

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s failure to officially open the fifth and last session of the current parliament before the next elections is seriously affecting operations of the legislature which has only met for two days since July.

Report by Paidamoyo Muzulu
The House was reconvened to pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill. It also met last month to ratify the US$150 million loan for upgrading the Victoria Falls International Airport in time for next year’s United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly.

Senior parliamentary officials confirmed they were in limbo as they expected Mugabe to gazette the official ending of the fourth session and the start of the last session.

Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma confirmed the legislature was waiting for Mugabe to issue the necessary notices.

However, Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba refuted the charge that Mugabe was delaying the opening of the fifth session.

“Mugabe can only open parliament at the invitation of the House’s administrative staff and they have not done that,” Charamba said.

Section 62(1) of the constitution reads: “Subject to the provisions of subsection (2), the sessions of parliament shall be held in such place and shall begin at such time as the president may, by proclamation in the gazette, fix.”

Veritas, a lawyers’ grouping that monitors parliament, says the delay by Mugabe may be motivated by his inclination to call for snap elections.

Mugabe is toying with the idea of calling for early general elections after the High Court gave him a 30-day extension from the end of August to gazette dates for by-elections in three constituencies which are subject to a legal challenge.

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