BILL WATCH 4-2016

BILL WATCH 4/2016

[1st February 2016]

Parliament will Resume Sitting Tomorrow, Tuesday 2nd February 2016

Membership of Parliament

New Members

There are two new members of Parliament to be sworn in, as follows:

National Assembly  ZANU-PF’s Killian Sibanda is the new MP for Bulawayo’s Nkulumane constituency, having won the 19th December by-election to fill the vacancy created by the death of Tamsanqa Mahlangu of MDC-T [GN 8/2016].

Senate  ZANU-PF’s Clemence Makwarimba is a new ZANU-PF party-list Senator for Masvingo Province, having been successfully nominated by ZANU-PF to fill the vacancy created when Dzikamai Mavhaire forfeited his seat in terms of section 129()1)(k) of the Constitution [GN 394/2015].

Vacancies

National Assembly  There are two vacancies:

Mhondoro-Mubaira constituency seat Polling in the by-election to fill the vacant [formerly held by Sylvester Nguni] will be held on 5th March.  The two candidates accepted by the nomination court on 6th January were George Gangarawhe of ZANU-PF and Rodwell Nyanganya of Freedom Front  [GN 19/2016].

Mashonaland West party-list seat  Josephine Shava has been nominated by ZANU-PF to fill the National Assembly seat left vacant by the death of the Joan Tsogorani [GN 20/2016].  Unless the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission receives valid objections, it will soon appoint her an MP.

Senate  There is one vacancy, for a ZANU-PF Mashonaland East constituency seat, left vacant by Olivia Muchena’s loss of the seat in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution.  The party’s nominee to fill the vacancy has not yet been announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.  

Coming up in the National Assembly This Week

Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] reports

PLC reports may be announced on the three Bills that it had under consideration when the National Assembly last sat in December:

General Laws Amendment Bill   This Bill was sent back to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] for a report on the amendments made during its resumed Committee Stage on 24th November.   Once finally passed by the National Assembly, the Bill will go to the Senate.

Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill  This Bill, too, was sent back to the PLC for a report on the amendments made during its resumed Committee Stage on 24th November.  A second adverse report is considered possible on Vice-President Mnangagwa’s second attempt to resurrect section 121(3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.  Once finally passed by the National Assembly, the Bill will go to the Senate.

Zimbabwe National Defence University Bill  The Minister of Defence introduced this Bill in the National Assembly on 16th December and it was referred to the PLC.  It is a slipshod Bill that should not have been allowed to reach Parliament in its present state – so marred by petty elementary errors and omissions and inconsistencies that it is difficult to believe that it was produced by the Attorney-General’s Office.  A defect is the statement in clause 3 that the University “shall be established as a service of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in terms of the Constitution” – without explaining how the University provided for by the Bill meets the Constitution’s requirement that a new service of the Defence Forces must be a “disciplined military service” [Constitution, section 210].

Note: This Bill was heralded by President Mugabe when he opened the previous session of Parliament in 2014.  He said: “During this Session, Parliament shall also consider the Bill for the transformation of the National Defence College into a National Defence University. The University will provide higher education and training in national policy and strategy formulation for senior military and civilian leaders under the discipline of national defence and security.”  

Bills

Seven Bills gazetted over the last few months await presentation in Parliament; they are listed below in order of date of gazetting [all available from Veritas]:

Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences Bill [gazetted 4th September]

Gwanda State University Bill [gazetted 4th September]

Special Economic Zones Bill [gazetted 23rd November]

Public Finance Management Amendment Bill [gazetted 23rd November]

Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill [gazetted 4th December]

National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill [gazetted 18th December]

Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology Bill [gazetted  22nd January]

Debate on PLC’s Adverse Report on Presidential Powers Regulations restricting legal action against Premier Service Medical Aid Society [SI 77/2015]

Debate on this report is due to resume.  Contributions by PLC members and MPs were completed two months ago.  What remains is an explanation and justification of the regulations by the Minister of Health, who was severely criticised by some MPs.  The delay in finalising the debate is unfortunate, because the regulations expired two weeks ago [they were gazetted on 17th July 2015 and all such regulations made in terms of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act “lapse” after 180 days].  

Motions

The first two items on the Order Paper are the continuing debates on the motion in reply to the Presidential Speech opening the present Session and the motion in reply to the President’s State of the Nation Address.  Also listed are motions to restore to the Order Paper several motions that lapsed before completion of debate at the end of the previous Session.  Debate is also due to resume on the motion calling for action following the Premier Services Medical Aid Society scandal.

Question Time [Wednesday]

The 28 questions listed include one asking the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to explain Government policy regarding compensation to victims of negligence in Government hospitals; and another asking the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services for an update on the outcome of last year’s pension verification exercise, how comprehensive it was and what anomalies were noted as regards ghost pensioners.

Coming up in the Senate This Week

Bills   No Bills are listed.  Depending on what happens in the National Assembly, Senators may see the General Laws Amendment Bill and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill later in the week.  It is also possible for some of the Bills awaiting presentation to be introduced in the Senate, although this would depart from normal practice.

Motions  Debate is due to resume on long-running debates on several motions, including:

Senator B. Sibanda’s motion calling for a National Stakeholders Indaba to address critical national economic challenges

Senator Goto’s motion congratulating the Government and people of Zimbabwe on the country's high literacy rate

Senator Chimbudzi’s motion on promoting sports development in Zimbabwe

The motion on the President’s speech opening the present Session.

Question Time [Thursday]

17 questions are listed.  Senator Chimhini will ask the Minister of Finance and Economic Development about measures put in place to curb abuse of scarce public funds by Ministries and parastatals, as shown by the Auditor-General’s reports, and what penalties, if any, have been applied in such cases.  He will also ask the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to explain what the Ministry is doing to make the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission effective and to ensure the independence of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.  Senator Chimbudzi will ask the Minister of Home Affairs what measures his Ministry has put in place to curb corruption at Beitbridge and Plumtree border posts.  

Government Gazette 29th January

Statutory Instruments

Customs duty suspension for mining companies  SI 11/2016 lists another four companies that will benefit from two- or three-year suspensions in the interests of mining development.

Local authority by-laws  SI 12/2016 enacts the Kadoma City Council’s new Vendors By-laws; and SI 13/2016 the Plumtree Town Council’s new Traffic By-laws.

 

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