BILL WATCH 13-2016

BILL WATCH 13/2016

[14th March 2016]

Both Houses of Parliament are Sitting This Week
Parliament’s Easter Recess is from 18th March to 4th April

According to Parliament’s sitting calendar for this year, both Houses will have a two-week recess after this week’s sittings.  They will resume on Tuesday 5th April.  [The sitting calendar is available from Veritas – follow this link or see end of this bulletin.]

Note:  The sitting calendar is a guide to the likely progress of the Parliamentary year.  It is not written in stone.  Last year there were some departures from the approved calendar. 

Deputy Minister Dismissed

It has been officially confirmed that the President removed Monica Mutsvangwa from the office of Deputy Minister of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion on Saturday 5th March, the day on which her husband lost his post of Minister of Social Services War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees.  Both were suspended from all party posts for three years at the ZANU-PF Politburo meeting on 3rd March, but remain ordinary members of the party and members of Parliament. 

Membership of Parliament: Vacancies

National Assembly  [one vacancy]

The only vacancy is in the Guruve South constituency seat, formerly held by ZANU-PF/s Criswell Mutematsaka, who lost the seat in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution on his expulsion from the party.  Polling in the by-election will be on Saturday 23rd April

Senate  [two vacancies]

There are two party-list vacancies in the Senate, both brought about in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution—

- one ZANU-PF seat for Mashonaland East, formerly held by Olivia Muchena

- one MDC-T seat for Bulawayo, formerly held by Matson Hlalo.

In the National Assembly Last Week

Bills

Two Bills presented

The following Bills were presented and had their First Readings on Tuesday 8th March and were immediately referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]—

- Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences Bill

- Gwanda State University Bill

This brought up to four the number of National Assembly Bills under consideration by the PLC [the others being the Special Economic Zones Bill and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill.  None of these Bills can proceed to the Second Reading Stage until the PLC has reported.

Ministerial Statement on Kwekwe Bus Disaster

On 9th March the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development made a Ministerial statement on the Kwekwe Bus Disaster of 3rd March.  He told MPs that that the head-on collision between the bus and a kombi had been caused by a burst tyre.  The Minister outlined the present system of third-party insurance and the levy on premiums that goes to the Traffic Safety Council to promote traffic safety.  He also announced that the Ministry is working urgently on the establishment of a Road Accident Fund to cater for the post-accident needs of road accident victims and will brief Cabinet on this within four weeks.  [Full statement available from Veritas – follow this link or see end of this bulletin]

Motion on “a definite matter of public importance” – disappearance of Itai Dzamara  On Thursday Hon Chamisa of MDC-T succeeded in obtaining leave from the House to raise this matter under Standing Order 59, meaning that later that afternoon, at 5.15 pm, he could present his motion even though it was not on the Order Paper.  However, just before 5 pm the objection was raised that there was no quorum [there being fewer than the minimum 70 MPs present] and efforts to form a quorum failed.  As he was obliged to do by Standing Orders, the Speaker immediately adjourned the House until Friday morning [Friday being the next sitting day] – without Hon Chamisa’s motion being moved.  And the motion fared no better on Friday, however, because once again a quorum could not be formed and the Speaker immediately adjourned the House until Tuesday 15th March.  Only 57 MPs were present on Friday, including a number from ZANU-PF. 

Note: MDC-T no longer has the ability to form a National Assembly quorum by mustering 70 of its own MPs – a consequence of its sacrifice of 14 constituency seats in 2015 coupled with its boycott of the resulting by-elections.

Other motions  Reports by Parliamentary delegations to two conferences in late 2015 were presented: (1) on the 133rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and (2) on 30th Session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Session and the 40th Session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly.

Question Time  Vice-President Mnangagwa drew jeers from MDC-T MPs when reassuring the House that farming equipment distributed at the First Lady’s rallies was allocated regardless of the political affiliation of recipients. 

In the Senate Last Week

Bills

Zimbabwe National Defence University Bill passed  On Tuesday 8th March the Minister of  Defence took the Bill through all its stages.  Not one Senator opposed the passing of the Bill, although several regretted that lack of resources had prevent the holding of public hearings to inform members of the public.  The Bill was passed without amendment.  It will next go to the President for his assent before being published as law in the Government Gazette [Bill available from Veritas – follow this link or see end of this bulletin].

Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill  With Vice-President Mnangagwa back in Parliament after a week’s absence on official business outside the country, the Senate was able to continue with this Bill on 9th March.  Senators had nothing to say in the Second Reading debate, which meant that the Bill had its Second Reading with nothing said apart from the Minister’s opening speech.  The Bill was then taken quickly through its remaining stages without discussion, and passed.  It will next go to the President for his assent before being published as law in the Government Gazette. 

General Laws Amendment Bill - amended  In winding up the Second Reading debate on 9th March, Vice-President Mnangagwa replied to various points raised by Senators, and the Bill was duly given its Second Reading.  During the Committee Stage on 10th March, at Hon Mnangagwa’s request, the Senate approved corrections to typographical errors and to the following noteworthy amendments—

- Criminal defamation - Repeal of Criminal Law Code, section 96 [This repeal acknowledges and gives effect to the Constitutional Court’s decision of 3rd February confirming that section 96 is void and no longer forms part of the Criminal Law Code.]

- Deletion of National Assembly amendments to nine University Acts underlining the need for regional representation on University councils [In the National Assembly the Vice-President accepted these amendments, which had been proposed by Hon Majome to give effect to section 18 of the Constitution on fair regional representation on all Government institutions.  The Vice-President was not asked to explain why he now wanted them taken out of the Bill.]

Also approved was an amendment to the Traditional Leaders Act moved by Senator Chief Mtshane, and accepted by the Vice-President, to make it clear that members of the National Council of Chiefs continue in office after a dissolution of Parliament until a new Council is elected in terms of the Electoral Act.   The Senate now awaits the PLC’s report on these amendments.

Motions   Debate continued on several motions, including:  the need to respect the Role of Traditional Leaders; Rehabilitation of war shrines and recognition of departed sons and daughters of the liberation struggle; Appreciation of President Mugabe’s leadership of the AU; the report of Parliament’s delegation to the Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) held in Geneva, Switzerland in October 2015.

Coming up This Week in the National Assembly

Bills

Parliamentary Legal Committee reports are awaited on four Bills—

- Special Economic Zones Bill

- National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill

- Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences Bill

- Gwanda State University Bill.

General Laws Amendment Bill  If the Senate completes work on it in time, the General Laws Amendment Bill could come back to the National Assembly for its consideration and approval of the Senate’s amendments [see above] before the Easter Recess. 

Motions  Item 3 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 16th March]  13 written questions include one from Hon Cross asking the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to state and justify the expenditure, if any, incurred by the State on the First Lady’s “recent tours to the provinces” and one from Hon Masiya on how the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare regulates distribution of relief food in rural areas.

Coming up This Week in the Senate

Bills

General Laws Amendment Bill  The Bill is under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee for its report on the amendments made during the Committee Stage last week [see above].  As an adverse report on the amendments is unlikely, the amended Bill may well be passed and returned to the National Assembly this week.

Motions   There are no new motions are listed for presentation, so debate on motions already presented will continue:

Question Time [Thursday 17th March]  Only three written questions are listed so far.  One asks the Minister of Defence to explain how provinces without resident army units can benefit from developmental projects undertaken by the Zimbabwe National Army when the country is at peace.

Government Gazette 11h March

No statutory instruments were gazetted.  None of the several General Notices was especially noteworthy.

 

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