THE Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo and his staff are locked in a cold war with MPs in the parliamentary select committee over the constitutional reform process, further jeopardising the exercise.
The fight between parliament administration and the MPs’ committee has exposed the cracks within the constitution-making process which has been widely condemned by civic groups. Critics of the process controlled by the three political parties in parliament say it is not inclusive, participatory and democratic.
Information obtained this week shows there is a major rift and tensions areÂ rising between parliament staff and MPs.
The fight is over the control of the constitution-making process, including the planning of the stakeholders’ conference slated for July 9-12, invitation and accommodation of delegates, tender for the conference organiser and the guest speaker at the stakeholders’ conference. Parliament wants Moyo to be the guest speaker while MPs are pushing to invite prominent South African politician and business magnate Cyril Ramaphosa.
Parliament’s staff, who include presiding officers and the management committee, budget committee and the Standing Rules and Orders committee (SROC), and the all stakeholders’ conference subcommittee held a tense meeting on Monday to discuss contentious issues.
Another meeting was held on Wednesday at which the select committee of MPs clashed with parliament staff and rejected their proposals, creating an explosive conflict.
At the Monday meeting, the all stakeholders’ conference subcommittee was asked by presiding officers of parliament to present its report on the progress it has made in preparing for the conference.
In its report the conference subcommittee said it had scheduled the event for July 9-12. It also said a tender advert for the conference organiser had been prepared and presented to the MPs’ select committee which approved it with minor amendments. What was left, it said, was funding to flight the advert.
The subcommittee said accommodation for delegates was being identified with some hotels having confirmed the numbers of rooms they are offering, while others had just made promises.Â Â
The subcommittee further reported the MPs’ select committee needed a secretariat for the conference, thematic committees, facilitator and a woman chairperson of the event.
After that there was a fierce debate. The presiding officers said MPs could not decide dates of the conference alone. They said the SROC must be consulted. The officers also said the number of delegates could not be left to the MPs’ committee alone because it had budgetary implications.
The presiding officers said the steering committee of parliament must give guidance and “a political decision must be made because there are budgetary implications of the number of delegates invited”.
The officers also said there were delays in placing an advert for engaging a conference organiser due to budget constraints. They said hiring an outsider as was the case with the media consultant required a downpayment.
Apart from this, there were clashes on the consultation process, the outreach programme and the number of days for the conference. The presiding officers said the conference, to be held at the Harare International Conference Centre, should be one and half days, not three as had been suggested by the MPs. Delegates should be 1 500, not 5 000 and the gender ratio should be 50:50.
The issue of 70 consultative teams and thematic committees of about 40 people per committee should be brought to parliament staff since it had budgetary implications. The conference facilitator and chairperson should also be left to SROC to decide. A joint caucus of all parties in the process should be held to whip MPs into line.
The administration of parliament must organise accommodation, registration and accreditation for delegates, instead of the event organiser. Allocation of delegates for parties must be based on their representation in parliament.
However, presiding officers’ proposals were rejected by MPs, leaving the stage set for a major showdown.-Staff Writer