BILL WATCH 45-2015

BILL WATCH 45/2015

[22nd September 2015]

National Assembly sittings resume on Tuesday 22nd September
Senate resumes on Tuesday 29th September

In the National Assembly This Week

The Banking Amendment Bill is to be presented by the Hon Chinamasa, Minister of Finance.  This is the only Bill mentioned on the Order Paper. 

There will have to be motions proposing the restoral of Bills carried over from the last session.  Among these are the General Laws Amendment Bill and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Bill.  It is hoped that there will be a great deal of debate on and amendments to these Bills.  They are intended to align laws with the Constitution, but only partially do so.  Having waited so long for these Bills, it is up to Parliament to ensure they implement our Constitution properly. [See Bill Watches 17, 18, 26, 29, 39, 42 and 44/2015 and Constitution Watches 14 and 15/2015, for analyses of these Bills, especially where they fail to comply with the Constitution.]

There were a number of new Bills on the President’s Legislative Agenda [see Bill Watch 43/2015] but these have not yet even been gazetted.

Proceedings today [Tuesday 22nd] will probably be limited to the moving of the customary motion thanking the President for his speech opening the session.  It is hoped that with all the business in front of Parliament – the Budget will be coming up soon – time will not be wasted on rehashing the unfortunate confusion that occurred at the opening last week.  This has now been rectified and is water under the bridge. 

Opening of the Third Session

There was a ceremonial opening of the Third Session of this Parliament by President Mugabe on Tuesday 15th September.  Traditionally the President starts the proceedings in the National Assembly chamber by delivering a speech outlining the Government’s legislative agenda for the coming session, before declaring the session open.  Unfortunately, although the speech prepared for the opening ceremony had already been printed, in readiness for distribution immediately after the ceremony, the President had apparently been handed – and proceeded to deliver – the text of the State of the Nation address he had delivered to a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament on 25th August.  

To set the Parliamentary record straight, President Mugabe summoned MPs back to a second special joint sitting of both Houses the next day, Wednesday 16th September.  The President did not attend the proceedings, but Vice-President Mnangagwa moved a motion that :

“the text of the speech presented by His Excellency the President, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe at the Official Opening of the Third Session of the Eighth Parliament yesterday Tuesday, 15th September, 2015 be withdrawn and substituted by the correct version and that the incorrect text be expunged”.

Nearly two hours of sometimes heated debate then ensued before the motion was adopted, with Opposition MPs saying Parliament was entitled to have the Vice-President explain how the President had come to deliver the wrong speech, and what corrective action had been or would be taken.  In reply the Vice-President invoked the Separation of Powers principle, and insisted that this was a matter solely for the Executive, which would investigate and take any necessary action.

Note:  Parliamentary Standing Order 102 makes provision for expunging proceedings from the official record by resolution of the House on a motion proposed by a Vice President or Minister.

Hansard [the daily recording of Parliamentary Proceedings] has been duly changed to reflect the correct , i.e. the one outlining the Bills the Government intends bringing to Parliament during the session [this speech was summarised in Bill Watch 43/2015]

Other Business in the National Assembly Last Week

On both Tuesday and Wednesday, in brief sittings immediately after the joint meetings of both Houses, the National Assembly conducted a little other business, apart from that described above.  It then adjourned until Tuesday 22nd September.  The Senate adjourned until 29th September.

New MPs sworn in

On Tuesday 16th September two new ZANU-PF MPs were sworn in:

Magna Mudyiwa, MP for Mudzi West constituency, who won the by-election held on 24th July

Joshua Moyo, MP for Mwenezi East.  He was in fact sworn in prematurely.  When his nomination was accepted by the nomination court which sat on 20th July, there were no opposing candidates, so the nomination court correctly declared him “duly elected ... with effect from 19th September” [the day on which a by-election would have been held had there been two or more candidates].  This means that he should only have been sworn in after the 19th September.  Section 46(17)(b) of the Electoral Act says the declaration in an unopposed election is with effect from the polling day fixed in the proclamation calling the election. 

SMS death threats to Opposition MPs

On both 15th and 16th September, MDC-T chief whip raised a point of privilege, based on the receipt of SMS death threats by several of his party’s MPs following reports that MDC-T MPs had resolved at a caucus meeting to heckle the President while he was delivering his speech opening Parliament.  The Speaker not only advised the MPs concerned to report the matter to the police for investigation but also, on Wednesday, said he would consider Mr Gonese’s request for the appointment of a Committee on Privileges and, if necessary, refer it to the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.

Another Minister Dismissed and Replaced

Minister of Sport and Recreation Andrew Langa was dismissed by President Mugabe on 17th September.  He was at once replaced by Makhosini Hlongwane, who had been a Minister for only five days, having been sworn in as Minister Without Portfolio on 11th September.  The list of Ministers and Deputy Ministers [circulated with Bill Watch 40/2015 of 13th September] has now been updated on the Veritas website.

Three By-Election Results

ZANU-PF candidates won all three of Saturday’s by-elections.  The new members of the National Assembly are:

Zalera Makari [Epworth constituency]

Lawrence Katsiru [Marondera Central constituency]

Douglas Karoro [Mbire constituency].

They cannot take their seats in Parliament until they have been sworn in.  That could happen today.

All vacancies in the National Assembly have now been filled. 

There are still two vacancies in the Senate, to be filled by ZANU-PF nominees following the vacation of the party-list seats formerly held by expelled ZANU-PF members Olivia Muchena [Mashonaland East] and Dzikamai Mavhaire [Masvingo].

Government Gazettes 11th to 18th September

[NOT AVAILABLE from Veritas unless otherwise stated]

Statutory Instruments

Medicines control – complementary medicines  SI 97/2015 of 11th September enacts a detailed set of regulations placing the manufacture, importation and marketing of complementary medicines [i.e., such medicines as homeopathic remedies, Ayurvedic medicines, Traditional Chinese medicines, Traditional Dutch medicines, Herbal medicines] under a regulatory system administered by the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Authority.  The related SI 96/2015, also of 11th September, repeals the previous regulations controlling homeopathic remedies [SI 358/1998].

Fuel prices  SI 100/2015 of 11th September makes adjustments to the formulae for fixing fuel prices as set out in SI 80/2015, effective 11th September.

Exchange control  SI 104/2015 of 18th September enacts the Exchange Control (Authorised Dealers with Limited Authority) Order, made by the Reserve Bank with the approval of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.  With effect from 18th September, the Order makes detailed provision for the conduct of business by “authorised dealers with limited authority”, covering financial services providers carrying out small value person-to-person cross-border transfers or buying and selling foreign currency through money transfer systems designated by the Reserve Bank.  Registration with the Reserve Bank is required, and the order provides for how to get registered and how authorised business must be conducted.

Tax Amnesty  SI 106/2015 of 18th September amends the Tax Amnesty Regulations [SI 163/2014], backdated to 1st October 2014.  

Customs tariff  SI 105/2015 of 18th September, backdated to 1st January 2015, replaces customs tariff item 41.03 clarifying the rate of duty on raw hides.

Local authority by-laws

Harare City Council Control of Advertising Signs  SI 99/2015 of 11th September makes comprehensive changes to the principal by-laws of 1981, including provisions regulating aerial signs, electronic LED signs of various types, newspaper placards, posters, touchline signs.  Stricter controls are envisaged and there is provision for withdrawal and amendment of Council approval.

Kadoma City Council – rents and charges  SI 98/2015 of 11th September enacts new rents, lodgers’ fees, refusal removal, water and supplementary charges for Kadoma’s high density townships.

Plumtree Town Councillicensed premises, protection of land and natural resources, and dog licensing and control by-law  New by-laws on these three subjects are set out in SIs 101, 102 and 103/2015, all of 18th September.

 

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