BILL WATCH 11-2016

BILL WATCH 11/2016

[29th February 2016]

Both Houses of Parliament are Sitting This Week

Members of Commissions Sworn In

President Mugabe swore in members of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission at State House on Wednesday 24th February.  The members sworn in are listed below.

National Peace and Reconciliation Commission 

Cyril Ndebele [chairperson], Lilian Chigwedere [deputy chairperson], Patience Chiradza, Choice Ndoro, Charles Masunungure, Geoffrey Chada, Godfrey Chekenyere and Leslie Ncube.  Netty Musanhu is still to be sworn in as the last member.

Note:  Mr Ndebele, a senior legal practitioner and former Speaker of Parliament, has the legal qualifications laid down for appointment as chairperson [Constitution, section 251(2)].  The earlier announcement that Bishop Emeritus Ambrose Moyo would be the chairperson was inconsistent with this constitutional provision. 

Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission

Job Whabira [chairperson], Nannette Silukhuni [deputy chairperson], Goodson Nguni, Christine Fundira, Danford Chirindo, Cathy Muchechetere, Farai Mashonganyika, and Boyana Ndou.  Thandaza Masiye Moyo is still to be sworn in as the last member.

Note:  New chairperson Mr Whabira is a former Public Service Commissioner and Permanent Secretary for Defence.  Mr Chirindo, now a commissioner, chaired the Commission until 31st August 2014; there were no other commissioners from 31st December 2013 onwards, meaning that the Commission was unable to function legally for over two years [section 344 of the Constitution allows for one or more vacancies, but requires a quorum of at least five commissioners for valid action]. 

Hungwe Promoted to Cabinet

Also on 24th February, President Mugabe swore in Hon Josia Hungwe, Minister of State for Liaising on Psychomotor Activities in Education, as a member of Cabinet.

In the Senate Last Week

Note: The National Assembly was in recess.

General Laws Amendment Bill

Vice-President Mnangagwa delivered his Second Reading speech on this important Bill on Thursday 25th February.  He explained that the Constitution necessitates two types of changes to existing laws.  The first type, he said, consists of—

substantive changes which are core changes which lead to the amendment of a principal Act or the creation of a new (Act). The other is the minor changes or non-consequential changes that are brought about by the Constitution. These changes do not lead to the creation of a new Act, but rather bring minor changes such as changes of a name or office e.g. from Provincial Governor to Minister of State. “

His Ministry, he said, had identified the 100-plus Acts affected by this Bill as necessitating an “omnibus General Laws Amendment Bill … effecting “both non-consequential and consequential changes”” to those Acts – meaning that the Bill contains both substantive/major changes and minor/non-consequential changes.  He then highlighted substantive/major changes to a handful of Acts, saying they were “urgent and of the utmost importance”: Interpretation Act; Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act; Electoral Act; Criminal Law Code [including the provisions permitting a discretionary death sentence for murder, subject to the new restrictions in the Constitution – see further below]; and Trade Marks Act.

After the Vice-President’s speech ,debate was adjourned until Tuesday 1st March, giving Senators a chance to express their views on the Bill this week.

Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill

Vice-President Mnangagwa’s Second Reading speech on this Bill was delivered immediately after the proceedings on the General Laws Amendment Bill.  The Senate then adjourned for the weekend.  Senators will be able to have their say on the Bill this week.  .

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

Senator Mawire’s motion on Traditional Leaders was presented.  It calls on the Government to revisit policies to enable traditional leaders to deal with issues of moral decadence, environmental pollution, children’s rights, etc. among rural communities.

Question Time  With a rare full bench of Ministers, comprehensive answers were given to a number of questions, including:

Finance Ministry measures to curb abuse of funds  The Minister’s reply [available from Veritas] included helpful explanations of the current Public Finance Management Amendment Bill [available from Veritas] and the forthcoming Public Sector Corporate Governance Bill [not yet publicly available].

BEAM arrears  The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education confirmed that the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare owes schools $64 million in arrear school fees for children on the BEAM programme.  He also re-stated Government policy that no student’s public examination results should be withheld for non-payment of school fees.  [Note: The 2016 Estimates allot $10 million for BEAM for the whole year.]

Coming up This Week in the Senate

GLA Bill and CPE Amendment Bill

Following Vice-President Mnangagwa’s Second Reading speeches on these Bills on Thursday 25th February, items 1 and 2 on the Order Paper for 1st March list continuation of the Second Reading debates on the—

- General Laws Amendment Bill  [GLA Bill], and

- Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill  [CPE Amendment Bill].

Note: Veritas’ detailed commentary on the CPE Amendment Bill is to be found in Constitution Watches 14 and 15/2015 of 15th July 2015 [available from Veritas for those who do not already have them – follow this link or see end of this bulletin]

The death penalty: As explained in Constitution Watch 6/2016 of 23rd February, Veritas position is that—

- These Bills in their present form will reintroduce the death penalty after a gap of nearly three years during which it has not been part of our law

- Senators should refuse to pass the Bills in their present form.

Criminal defamation  Hansard records the Vice-President as saying: I also wish to highlight that this Bill will repeal the offence of criminal defamation.”  As the Bill does not cmention section 96 of the Criminal Law Code [which enacts the offence of criminal defamation], this was a sign that the Minister intends to move a Committee Stage amendment expunging section 96 from the text of the Code – thereby acknowledging the Constitutional Court’s 3rd February decision in Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and Others v the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Others.  In that case the court declared that section 96 does not form part of our law, having been declared void for inconsistency with the former Constitution in the Constitutional Court’s 2015 decision in Madanhire and Another v Attorney-General.

Motions   Two new motions are listed for presentation:

Rehabilitation of war shrines and recognition of departed sons and daughters of the liberation struggle – to be moved by Senator Mohadi, seconded by Senator Masuku.

Appreciation of President Mugabe’s leadership of the AU – to be moved by Senator Chief Musarurwa, seconded by Senator Mavhunga.

Question Time [Thursday 3rd March]  Thirteen written questions are already listed.

Coming up This Week in the National Assembly

Bills  Zimbabwe National Defence University Bill  This is the only Bill listed for the National Assembly – for continuation of the Second Reading debate after the introductory speech by the Minister of Defence.  The Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services is expected to be ready with its report on the Bill and its consultations with stakeholders.

Bills with PLC  Two Bills are listed as under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] – the Special Economic Zones Bill, referred on 9th February, and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill, referred on 11th February.  The National Assembly cannot start the Second Reading stages until the PLC has reported..

Motions  High on the Order Paper is Hon Shamu’s motion, seconded by Hon Zindi, calling on Zimbabweans to recognise the iconic role and visionary leadership of Mr Mugabe as President and Commander-in-Chief; to complement the efforts of the Security Services to improve the welfare of the nation; and to uphold the spirit of national unity, peace and development.

Question Time [Wednesday 2nd March]  The 37 written questions already listed may well be augmented by others before Wednesday.

Government Gazette 26th February

Statutory Instruments

Customs tariff – SI 26/2016 reduces to zero the customs duty on (1) unused postage stamps, share certificates and similar documents of title; and (2) bank notes that are legal tender in the country of issue or any other country.

Customs duty suspension for mining development  SI 31/2016 is the latest in a long series of suspensions for mining companies to encourage capital development of mines [two companies benefit this time].

Local authority by-laws – SIs 27 and 28/2016 enact the Mutoko Town Council Animals By-laws and the Mutoko Rural District Council Licensed Premises By-laws, respectively.  SI 30/2016 enacts the Harare Anti-litter By-laws.

Parks and Wild Life Tariff of Fees  SI 32/2016 repeals the Ninth Schedule to the main tariff [SI 79/2015]; the repealed schedule specified “permit fees” for exploitation activities such as extraction of river sand and mining in the Parks and Wild Life Estate. 

NSSA Pensions and Other Benefits Scheme – SI 29/2016 suspends section 37(5) of the principal notice [SI 393/1983] for the whole of 2016.  The effect is to allow claims for invalidity grants, retirement grants and survivors grants to be submitted although out of time according to section 37(5) – or re-submitted even if previously rejected for being out of time. 

 

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