BILL WATCH 14-2016

BILL WATCH 14/2016

[4th April 2016]

Both Houses of Parliament will Resume Sitting on Tuesday 5th April

Parliament’s two-week Easter Recess is over.  National Assembly and Senate sittings will resume on Tuesday 5th April.  [The sitting calendar for the year 2016 is available from Veritas – follow this link or see end of this bulletin.].  Committee meetings resume on Monday 4th April.  This bulletin outlines what happened in Parliament during the week before the recess and what Bills may be dealt with in  both Houses this week. 

Status of Bills at a Glance

[more detail further on]

Passed by Parliament, awaiting Presidential assent and/or gazetting

Banking Amendment Bill [to be Act 12/2015] [sent to President’s Office on 17th March – GN 58/2016]

Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill [passed 9th March]

Zimbabwe National Defence University Bill [passed 8th March]

Awaiting final stages in Parliament

General Laws Amendment Bill [see below]

Awaiting Second Reading in National Assembly

Gwanda State University Bill [non-adverse PLC report 17th March]

Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences Bill [non-adverse PLC report 17th March]

Awaiting PLC Report to National Assembly

Special Economic Zones Bill [sent to PLC 9th February]

Awaiting introduction

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]

Being prepared for gazetting

Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [proofs being checked by drafters]

Diamond Looting Being Investigated

President Mugabe’s 3rd March statements about the massive extent of diamond looting prompted questions in both houses of Parliament on 16th and 17th March.  In the National Assembly on 16th March the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, was asked about the figure of 15 billion dollars mentioned by the President.  He replied that the figures are still being ascertained by “a process of establishing how it happened, how much it is in specific terms”.  Once the forensic report has been completed, he said, it would be brought to Parliament.  In the Senate the next day the Minister of Finance and Economic Development reiterated this, and added that what had  happened at Chiadzwa  would never happen again, because only one company run by Government is now mining diamonds.

Reminder: An earlier Parliamentary investigation by the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy resulted in the tabling in Parliament of a Report on Diamond Mining (with special reference to Marange Diamond Fields) 2009 – 2013  [available from Veritas – follow this link or see end of this bulletin]

Membership of Parliament

New vacancy in the National Assembly

The sudden death on 17th March of Hon Edgar Chidavaenzi, ZANU-PF MP for Mazoe North, has created another vacancy in the National Assembly.  The resulting by-election should be completed within 90 days of the occurrence of the vacancy, i.e., not later than 16th June [Constitution, section 158(3)].  The statutory instrument calling the by-election has not yet been gazetted. 

Result of Mhondoro-Mubaira By-election gazetted

ZEC’s General Notice 57/2016, gazetted on 18th March, confirms that ZANU-PF’s George GANGARAHWE was elected a member of the National Assembly with effect from 6th March. 

Guruve South By-election : 23rd April

Polling in the by-election to fill the vacant Guruve South seat in the National Assembly will take place on Saturday 23rd April.  There are two candidates: Patrick DUTIRO of ZANU-PF; and Simbarashe MUTSVENE of NCA [see General Notice 56/2016 for the official Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] announcement of the nomination court results].  The constituency is in Mashonaland Central province.  The former MP, Criswell Mutematsaka, lost the seat in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution when expelled from ZANU-PF.

Nominees to fill Senate vacancies

On 18th March ZEC gazetted the names of the persons nominated by the respective parties to fill the two party-list vacancies in the Senate, both brought about in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution—

·        Tabeth MURWIRA is ZANU-PF’s nominee for the Mashonaland East seat formerly held by Olivia Muchena

·        Victor MAPUNGWANA is MDC-T’s nominee for the Bulawayo seat formerly held by Matson Hlalo.

Those wishing to object to a nominee had 14 days, until 1st April, to lodge written objections with the Chief Elections Officer at ZEC headquarters in Harare [cnr Kaguvi St/Jason Moyo Ave or P. Bag 7782, Causeway].  If no valid objections are received, ZEC will gazette notices declaring the nominees duly appointed as Senators with effect from the date of gazetting.

In the National Assembly 15th to 17th March

Reports on Bills by Parliamentary Legal Committee

Just before the House adjourned for its Easter Break on 17th March, reports from the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] were announced, as follows—

Non-adverse reports [2]

·        Gwanda State University Bill

·        Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences Bill.

The Second Reading stages of these Bills can therefore begin when the National Assembly resumes on 5th April.

Adverse report [1]

·        National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill [full PLC report available from Veritas – follow this link or, if without Internet access, email Veritas at addresses given at the end of this bulletin.] 

Bill still under consideration by the PLC

The Special Economic Zone Bill is still under consideration.  As Veritas has previously pointed out, clause 55 of the Bill provides that the Labour Act will not apply to “licensed investors in special economic zones” and allows the Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority to make rules governing labour rights in these zones.

Motion on disappearance of Itai Dzamara frustrated again On Wednesday 16th March Hon Chamisa’s renewed attempt to present his motion on the forced disappearance of MDC-T activist Itai Dzamara was defeated in the same way as his previous efforts on 10th and 11th March, i.e., by the absence of a quorum of 70 MPs as the time drew near for him to present his motion [5.15 pm].  Mr Chamisa accused ZANU-PF MPs of deliberately sabotaging his motion by withdrawing from the National Assembly chamber “in droves”.  Only 47 MPs were present when the final count was taken, and the obligatory adjournment put an end to the proceedings.  26 of the 47 were from MDC-T, 19 from ZANU-PF and 2 from the other MDC formation.  

Comment: MDC-T has 56 MPs in the National Assembly.  Mr Chamisa must have been hoping for more enthusiastic support from his party colleagues, even relatively late in the afternoon and  with the prospect of a two-week break from Parliamentary duties. 

In the Senate 15th to 17th March

Bills

General Laws Amendment Bill cleared by PLC   On Thursday 18th March, just before the Senate adjourned until 5th April, it was announced that the PLC had returned a non-adverse report on the amendments to the Bill approved during the Committee Stage.  The Senate is now free to pass the Bill, as amended, when it resumes on 5th April.  After that the Bill will have to go back to the National Assembly for its approval of the Senate’s amendments.

Bills that May Come Up in Parliament This Week

Senate

General Laws Amendment Bill  Now that the last set of amendments to the Bill have been cleared by the PLC’s non-adverse report of 17th March [see above], its final passage by the Senate is likely to be a quick formality.  It will then go back to National Assembly for approval of those amendments.

National Assembly

General Laws Amendment Bill  If, as expected, the Bill comes back to the National Assembly for approval of the Senate’s amendments, any discussion will be confined to whether or not those amendments should be approved.  All the amendments emanated from Vice-President Mnangagwa, who will no doubt be questioned on why he asked the Senate to remove the clauses on regional  representation on University Councils – clauses that Hon Majome managed to get him to accept when the Bill was in the National Assembly originally.

Two State University Bills   The Gwanda State University Bill and the Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences Bill have been given non-adverse reports by the PLC.  This means that the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development can now start off the Second Reading stages for both Bills.

National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill  As this Bill has been given an adverse PLC report, further progress will depend on how the Government decides to deal with the adverse report [see above for the options].  Another delaying factor is that public hearings on the Bill are likely during the week beginning Monday 11th April.  [Full PLC report available from Veritas – follow this link or, if without Internet access, email Veritas at addresses given at the end of this bulletin.] 

Government Gazette 18th March

Lands Acquisition Act – Compensation Committee  GN 51/2016, gazetted on 18th March, notifies the appointment of Kundai Makuku as a member of the Compensation Committee established by section 29A of the Land Acquisition Act.  

Government Gazette : 25th March

Statutory Instruments

Small claims courts: court venues, fees and increased jurisdiction  SIs 34, 35 and 36/2016 make changes to, respectively, the number of small claims court venues [9]; court fees; and monetary jurisdiction [increased from US$250 to US$1 000]. [all available from Veritas]

General Notices

Banking Amendment Bill to President for assent  GN 58/2016 is a notice that Parliament sent the Banking Amendment Bill to the President’s Office on 17th March.  The President has 21 days within which to decide whether to assent or to send the Bill back to Parliament for reconsideration. 

Exemption from advertising requirement for shop licence applications  GN 59/2016 notifies an exemption granted by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing in terms of section 6 of the Shop Licences Act,  The exemption relieves applicants for new shop licences for shops in an areas zoned for shops under the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act from the need to advertise their applications. 

Withdrawal of Preliminary Notice to Expropriate Land  GN  59A/2016, in a special one-item Gazette Extraordinary, withdraws a 2010 preliminary notice to expropriate land

Government Gazette of 1st April

Statutory Instruments

Model building by-laws – procedure for receipt and consideration of plans  SI 37/2016 amends section 17 of Chapter 2 of the 1977 Model Building By-laws for urban councils. 

Factories registration fees  SI 38/2016 sets new fees ranging from $100 to $300, depending on number of employees.

University Charter: Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University [ZEGU]  SI 39/2016 sets out the Charter granted by the President to this new private university in terms of the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education Act.  Private universities are established by Charter in terms of this Act as opposed to State universities, each of which has its own Act of Parliament.  ZEGU’s Chancellor is the Archbishop and President of ZAOGA (Forward in Faith) Church. 

 

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