BILL WATCH 10-2016

BILL WATCH 10/2016

[22nd February 2016]

The Senate will Sit This Week

The National Assembly is in Recess until Tuesday 1st March

The National Assembly sat last week, and on Thursday, after passing the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill, adjourned until Tuesday 1st March.  The Senate and its committees will be sitting this week, having been in recess since the Senate adjourned on 4th February.

One National Assembly Vacancy Filled

With effect from 19th February Josephine Shava is a ZANU-PF party-list member of the National Assembly for Mashonaland West.  Her appointment was announced by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] in GN 36/2016 of 19th February following her nomination by ZANU-PF to fill the vacancy caused by the death of the late Joan Tsogorani [GN available].

Note: There are now only two National Assembly vacancies [the Mhondoro-Mubaira and Guruve South constituency seats].  The nomination court for Guruve South contest will sit at Bindura Magistrates Court this Friday, 26th February, and, if there are two or more nominations,  polling day will be on Saturday 23rd April.  Polling day for the Mhondoro-Mubaira by-election is Saturday 5th March.    There is one Senate vacancy [a ZANU-PF party-list seat in Mashonaland East, formerly held by Olivia Muchena]. 

Statistics on Use of Section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution:
“Recalling” of MPs Expelled by Political Parties

In the National Assembly on 2nd February Hon Chamisa of MDC-T deplored the continuing use of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution, saying it had affected the stability of Parliament and caused expensive by-elections.  The following figures show the use of section 129(1)(k) to recall members of Parliament from both Houses in this Parliament, and the number of by-elections caused:

[Note: By-elections arise only when a National Assembly constituency seat has to be filled.  Proportional representation/party-list vacancies in both Houses are filled by nominees from the party previously holding the seat concerned.]

Use of section 129(1)(k) – Senate

MDC-T .................  4  [all party-list seats]

ZANU-PF .............  2  [all party-list seats]

      Total...............  6

Use of section 129(1)(k) – National Assembly

MDC-T ...............  17 [14 constituency seats, 3 party-list seats]

ZANU-PF..............  7  [all constituency seats]

      Total ............  24

Section 129(1)(k) as cause of by-elections

26 by-elections have been called during this Parliament [two of them are still to be decided].  The causes were as follows:

129(1)(k).............  21

Death.....................  3

Other* ...................  2

      Total ............  26

*2 appointments as Vice-President [Mujuru and Mnangagwa]

Drought – State of Disaster Gazetted

In General Notice 35/2016 the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing has gazetted the President’s declaration of the state of disaster in terms of section 27 of the Civil Protection Act, in the following terms [complete GN available] :

“… as a result of the El Nino Phenomenon induced drought, a state of disaster exists in severely affected areas in communal and resettlement lands of Zimbabwe with effect from the 3rd of February, 2016”.

Comment:  As these words do not sufficiently identify the “severely affected areas”, the declaration is legally ineffective and therefore unlikely to be upheld by a court as authorising civil protection officers to exercise extraordinary powers in terms of sections 22 to 24 of the Civil Protection Act. 

Coming up in the Senate This Week

Bills  Please see the detailed discussion on the General Laws Amendment Bill and Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill in Bill Watch 11/2016, which will follow this bulletin.

Question Time  This is due to on Thursday 25th February.

In the National Assembly Last Week

Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill

There was some discussion on the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]’s latest Adverse Report on this Bill.  That came to an end when Vice-President Mnangagwa indicated his acceptance of the report and stated that he would move amendments to the Bill to meet the PLC’s objections.  PLC chairperson Hon Samukange then withdrew the report and the Bill was recommitted for consideration of these amendments, which dealt with:

- The issuance by the Prosecutor-General of certificates to allow private prosecutions [new clause 6]   

- The replacement of section 121(3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [new clause 30].

Despite vigorous opposition protests against the effect of the new clause 30 on certificates for private prosecutions, both amendments were approved, and the Bill as amended was then passed and transmitted to the Senate. 

Note:  The effect of the National Assembly’s amendments is fully discussed in Bill Watch 11/2016.

Bills with PLC

Two Bills remained with the PLC – Special Economic Zones Bill and National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill

Rulings on two allegations of contempt of Parliament

The Speaker handed down rulings on two complaints of contempt of Parliament against individuals:

- Mr Charles Kuwaza, former chairperson of State Procurement Board – here the Speaker ruled that there was a case for the establishment of an ad hoc Committee of Privileges to enquire into the complaint from the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy.

- Hon Kasukuwere, Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing – here the Speaker ruled that there was insufficient evidence to make a case against the Minister, and that there was accordingly no need to establish an ad hoc Committee of Privileges.

[full texts of both rulings available from Veritas]

Motions

The report of the Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services Portfolio Committee on the Landmine Situation was presented.

Ministerial Statement on STEM

On 18th February the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development made a statement to the National Assembly on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [STEM] Programme [full text of statement available from Veritas]

Question Time  Questions and answers occupied most of Wednesday afternoon’s sitting. 

Government Gazette 19th February

Statutory Instruments

Insurance – SI 24/2016 enacts the Insurance (Amendment) Regulations (No. 18)

Pension and Provident Funds – SI 25/2016 enacts the Pension and Provident Funds (Amendment) Regulations (No. 20).

General Notices

Compulsory acquisition of agricultural land – GN 34/2016 notifies the immediate acquisition, in terms of section 72(2) of the Constitution, of 15 pieces of agricultural land for purposes of “agriculture settlement’.

Drought State of Disaster – GN 35/2016 [see above]

New party-list MP for National Assembly – GN 36/2016 –[see above]

 

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