BILL WATCH 03-2015

BILL WATCH 3/2015

[3rd February 2015]

Both Houses of Parliament Will Be Sitting This Week

Both Houses of Parliament resumed on Tuesday 27th January after their five-week Christmas and New Year holiday break. They will continue sitting this week, starting on Tuesday 4th February. 

Two National Assembly By-elections: Candidates Nominated

Mount Darwin West [Mashonaland Central]

This seat was formerly held by ex-Vice-President Mujuru, and has been vacant since 11th September 2013.  The circumstances in which the vacancy was only recently notified to the President were described in Constitution Watch 2/2015 of 23rd January.  The by-election to fill the vacancy was called by a Presidential proclamation [SI 3/2015], which fixed 29th January as nomination day and 27th March as polling day.  At the close of the nomination court sitting four candidates were declared duly nominated: Mr Barnwell Seremwe [Zanu-PF]; Mr Kenard Fungai [Transform Zimbabwe]; Mr Cyril Muradzi (Freedom Front of Zimbabwe]; Mr Rueben Mafigu [NCA].

Chirumanzu-Zibagwe [Midlands]

This seat fell vacant when President Mugabe swore in the sitting MP, Hon Mnangagwa, as a Vice-President on 9th December.  SI 2/2015 also called the by-election to fill this vacancy, fixing the same nomination day [29th January] and polling day [27th March] for the by-election as fixed for Mount Darwin West.  At the close of the nomination court sitting five candidates were declared duly nominated: Mrs Auxillia Mnangagwa [ZANU-PF]; Mr Gadzamoyo Dhewa [Good People’s Movement Party]; Mr Munashe Mutodza [NCA]; Mr Willbroad Kanoti [Independent]; Abigail Musambasi [Transform Zimbabwe].

Polling day in both by-elections will accordingly be Friday 27th March.

New Vacancy in the National Assembly

Wedza North [Mashonaland East]

The sudden death of the incumbent MP, Hon S.K. Musanhu, Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, on 15th January has left the Wedza North seat vacant.  The Speaker informed the National Assembly of his death on     27th January, and MPs observed a minute’s silence.  A by-election must be called by the President by a proclamation to be gazetted within fourteen days of his receipt of formal notice of the vacancy from the Speaker.

New Party-list Senator for Mashonaland West

Hildah Bhobho is the new Senator from Mashonaland West.  On 23rd January, in GN 13/2015, ZEC announced her appointment as Senator “with effect from the date of publication of this notice”.  Ms Bhobho was nominated by ZANU-PF, in terms of section 39 of the Electoral Act, to fill the vacancy left by the election of Mrs Madzongwe as President of the Senate in September 2013.      

Note on the other Senate vacancy: ZEC has not yet gazetted the name of ZANU-PF’s nominee to fill the other vacant Senate seat, which was left vacant by the death of Kumbirai Kangai, a party-list Senator for Manicaland.  Its first nominee, former Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, was rejected by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission because he was not lawfully registered as a voter in a Manicaland constituency as required by section 45D(1)(d) of the Electoral Act.  [Comment: In laying down this qualification for a party-list Senator, the Electoral Act adds to the apparently exhaustive list of qualifications for Senatorial office laid down by the Constitution in section 121(1).] 

What Happened in Parliament Last Week

National Assembly

The National Assembly was kept reasonably busy, sitting until 5.17 pm on Tuesday 27th, 4.58 pm on Wednesday 28th and 4.01 pm on Thursday 29th January. 

Bills

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development began the Second Reading stages of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Debt Assumption) Bill and the Public Accountants and Auditors Amendment Bill by delivering speeches explaining the need for the Bills and their contents.  Debate was then adjourned to allow the relevant portfolio committees to complete their reports on the Bills.  There was no further discussion of either Bill last week. 

Motions

On 29th January there were further contributions to the debate on the President’s speech opening the present Parliamentary session; these occupied the whole afternoon. 

Two important new motions were moved by backbenchers:

Special Economic Zones  This motion was proposed on 27th January by Hon Nduna, seconded by Hon Cross and attracted general support from other contributors in a debate that lasted all afternoon.  It was pointed out, however, that even with Special Economic Zones the Government would still have to attend to economic fundamentals.

Scourge of child marriage  This motion was proposed on 28th January by Hon Maondera seconded by Hon Majome. 

Question Time [28th January]   This was marred by a dismal Ministerial turnout, only two Ministers and four Deputy Ministers; MPs complained and referred to section 107 of the Constitution, which requires Ministers and Deputy Ministers to attend Parliament for questions.  As a result the Minister of Primary Education was the target of most questions.  The Deputy Minister or Information Communication Technology and Postal and Courier Services said the Government was on course to meet the migration to digitalisation deadline of June 2015.  The Deputy Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture said drastic measures were being considered against ZIFA, even if this might result in Zimbabwe being suspended by the international football body, FIFA.

Tabling of Value for Money Audit Reports  The Speaker tabled the Auditor-General’s audit reports on CMED, ARDA and the GMB’s management of the Strategic Grain Reserve.  The respective Ministers had complied with their duty to table the reports.

Senate 

The Senate had no Government business to deal with, so the sittings on Tuesday and Wednesday ended early, at 3.01 pm and 3.25 pm respectively, debate was limited to a few contributions to the debate on the President’s speech opening the present Parliamentary session.  

On Tuesday the President of the Senate found it necessary to exhort Senators to create work for themselves: “May I please remind and encourage Hon. Senators to move motions because that is another way we create work for ourselves but at the same time we will be exercising our duties as people’s representatives. There are so many topics that are screaming to be addressed. There are problems and good things that are happening, you can move motions on either one of those two areas. So I am appealing, let us create some work for ourselves in here at the same time we will be addressing challenges that the people we represent are facing.”

Question Time [29th January]   The turn-out of Ministers and Deputy Ministers was better than in the National Assembly the previous day; the hour for questions without notice was fully utilised, took up half an hour.  Questions were answered by the Ministers of Local Government, Public Service, Defence, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, and the Deputy Ministers of Home Affairs, Higher and Tertiary Education, and Mines. 

Coming up in Parliament This Week

National Assembly

Bills

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Debt Assumption) Bill

Public Accountants and Auditors Amendment Bill

The Second Reading debates on both Bills are expected to continue if the chairpersons of the relevant portfolio committees are ready to present the reports of their committees. 

Gender Commission Bill  This Bill is listed for commencement of the Second Reading stage.  As there is currently no Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, there may be a delay.

Motions  Debates on motions presented last week [see above] are scheduled to continue.  A new motion is listed for presentation:

Climate change  Hon Anastancia Ndhlovu, seconded by Hon S. Mpofu, will move a motion urging the President to form a Zimbabwe Chapter of GLOBE International with a view to Zimbabwe benefiting from GLOBE’s capacity-building programmes, with particular reference to enabling Zimbabwe to produce essential national legislation for Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD).

Written Questions [Wednesday]  There are fourteen questions listed, all carried forward from last week.

Senate

The Order Paper remains sparse.  Senators have not yet responded to Hon Madzongwe’s call to bring up their own motions.  The only motion listed is the continuing debate on the President’s speech opening the present session.  There are only three written questions listed for Thursday afternoon.

Government Gazette

Statutory Instruments [not available from Veritas]

Collective bargaining agreements  SI 13/2015 contains the Code of Conduct and Grievance Handling procedure for Harare Municipal Undertaking.  SI 14/2015 specifies Insurance Industry salaries for the period 1st April 2014 to 31st December 2015.

Customs rebate  SI 15/2015 amends the list of firms entitled to the Clothing Manufacturers rebate.

Export tax relief on unbeneficiated hides   SI 16/2015 makes provision for this Budget measure, backdating its provisions to 1st January.

Tax Amnesty  SI 17/2015 amends the provision for a discount for early payment of tax covered by a successful amnesty application.

Local authority by-laws  SI 18/2015 enacts the Masvingo City Council’s Prepaid Parking Disc and Clamping and Tow-away by-laws.

 

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