THE final session of the current parliament will be officially opened on Tuesday and is set to be dominated by the 2013 national budget, conclusion of the disputed constitution-making process and the referendum ahead of elections expected next year.
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The official opening would restore long-awaited activity in the House which has been sitting on an ad-hoc basis since July as the coalition government partners continued to haggle over implementation of outstanding Global Political Agreement reforms.
President Robert Mugabe has signalled that the country would rush all outstanding reforms so that elections be held in March next year.
Mugabe said this at the official opening of the constitution-making exercise’s Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference in Harare on Monday.
Senior MPs confirmed the delay in opening the final session leaves little room for concrete debate on issues except the executive’s agenda likely to be centred on elections.
An MDC-T member of parliament’s Standing Rules and Ordinances Committee that decides the House’s itinerary said that MPs may not have much time to debate issues such as the constitution.
A Zanu PF MP concurred the legislature has been reduced to a mere rubber-stamp of the executive as political parties ready themselves for make-or-break elections.
“Elections are now the number one issue on the agenda and hence most of the time available would be spent on passing enabling legislation,” the MP said.
Parliament sat on an ad-hoc basis to deal with urgent matters like ratification of the US$150 million Chinese loan to finance preparations for hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in Victoria Falls in August next year.
Only five bills were handled by the House in the previous session.