BILL WATCH 15-2016

BILL WATCH 15/2016

[11th April 2016]

Both Houses of Parliament are Sitting This Week

Acts of 2015

Still awaiting gazetting as an Act is the Banking Amendment Bill passed by Parliament the week before Christmas; it will be Act 12/2015.  Parliament sent it to the President for his assent on 17th March.  All other Acts of 2015 have been gazetted already. 

Note:  The Bill passed by Parliament differs from the original Bill because extensive amendments were made during its passage through the National Assembly.  The text of the Bill as passed by Parliament is available from Veritas – please follow this link or, if without Internet access, email a request to Veritas at the address given at the end of this bulletin.

Membership of Parliament

Swearing-in of new MP in National Assembly

On 6th April  Hon. George Gangarahwe of ZANU-PF was sworn in as the new MP for Mhondoro-Mubaira in Mashonaland West.

National Assembly vacancies and by-elections

Guruve South constituency   Polling in the by-election will be on Saturday 23rd April.  There are two candidates: Patrick Dutiro of ZANU-PF; and Simbarashe Mutsvene of NCA.

Mazoe North constituency  The statutory instrument calling the by-election has not yet been gazetted.

Senate vacancies

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission notices appointing the two nominees have not yet been gazetted.  The nominees are Tabeth Murwira of ZANU-PF [Mashonaland East] and Victor Mapungwana of MDC-T [Bulawayo].

In Parliament 5th to 7th April

International agreements

Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  During the week both Houses approved the Doha Amendment.  Zimbabwe is already a party to the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention on Climate Change.

Loan Agreement between the Government and the Export-Import Bank of China  This loan was approved by the National Assembly on 5th April.  The loan, for US$ 98.6 million, is for the Tel-One Backbone Network and Broadband Access Project].  Grilled by Opposition MPs, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development assured the House that there was no link between this project and recently alleged corrupt activity affecting Net-One.  When the agreement came before the Senate on 7th April, however, the Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services hadn’t finished his speech when the lack of a quorum forced the untimely adjournment of the Senate.  There was still no quorum the following morning, so the job will have to be completed this week.  [See Quorum Trouble below]

PLC reports on February statutory instruments

On Wednesday 6th April the following reports were announced in the National Assembly—

Adverse report on Insurance (Amendment) Regulations [SI 24/2016]

Veritas will make this report available in soft copy as soon as possible.   The National Assembly is due to consider the report on 5th May.

Non-adverse reports on other February SIs

All other statutory instruments gazetted in February received a non-adverse report. 

Petition on Implementation of Constitution Chapter 14 - Devolution

On 7th April the Speaker informed the National Assembly that a petition for the implementation of Chapter 14 of the Constitution [Provincial and Local Government] had been received and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. 

In the National Assembly

Speaker’s ruling on Parliamentary oversight of the President

On 7th April the Speaker delivered his ruling on whether Parliament has executive oversight over the Office of the President  and the consequences of Standing Order No. 93(1)(b) relating to the use of the name of the President during debate.  Standing Order states that no member shall while speaking to a question use the name of the President irreverently in debates or for the purpose of influencing the House in its deliberations.  The Speaker’s ruling, referring particularly to section 119(2) and (3) of the Constitution and Standing Order 93, was as follows—

The Office of the President is subject to oversight by Parliament

Reference to the name of the President in debate is allowed, provided that it is done fairly, respectfully and courteously to the High Office of the President

Reference to the President in order to influence deliberations in the House or decisions is inconsistent with the Standing Orders and will not be tolerated. 

[full ruling available from Veritas – follow this link or see end of this bulletin]

Bills

Special Economic Zones Bill  A non-adverse Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] report on the Special Economic Zones Bill was announced in the National Assembly on 5th April.   Hon Chinamasa, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, delivered his Second Reading speech on 7th April outlining key aspects of the Bill  He did not mention the clause laying down that the Labour Act and the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act will not apply to licensed investors in special economic zones. The Second Reading debate was then adjourned at the request of the Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development Planning to allow time for this week’s public hearings around the country, and the preparation of the committee’s report on the Bill.

Public Finance Management Amendment Bill  On 7th April the Minister of  Finance and Economic Development presented this Bill, which was read for the first time and immediately referred to the PLC for a report on its compatibility with the Constitution. 

Motions approved

Portfolio Committee Report on the Role, Management and Impact of Housing Co-operatives on the Delivery of National Housing in Zimbabwe   The National Assembly approved this motion on 7th April following a reply to the report and debate by the responsible Minister.   The full report is available from Veritas – follow this link or see end of this bulletin.

In the Senate

Quorum trouble

After Question Time on Thursday 7th April, the Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services had not completed his speech on the Chinese Loan Agreement for the Tel-One Backbone Project [see above] when, at 4.26 pm, the Senate was adjourned until the following day for lack of a quorum.  On Friday morning lack of a quorum again prevented any business being done.  A similar problem in the National Assembly recently suggests that some members of Parliament are averse to working late on Thursday afternoon or at all on Fridays. 

Bills  

The General Laws Amendment Bill was the only Bill on the Senate Order Paper, waiting for final Senate approval after a non-adverse PLC report on the handful of amendments made by the Senate at the request of Vice-President Mnangagwa during the Committee Stage.  In Hon Mnangagwa’s absence, it was not dealt with.  

Motions

The Senate approved the “take note” motion on the report of Parliament’s delegation to the 7th World Water Conference.

Coming up in Parliament This Week

With the annual Independence Celebrations set for next week, both Houses of Parliament are expected to break for two weeks after this week’s sittings.  Sittings are due to resume on Tuesday 3rd May. 

National Assembly

Bills

Two State University Bills – Second Reading stages   Items 1 and 2 on the Order Paper for 12th April are the Second Reading stages of the Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences Bill and the Gwanda State University Bill.  The Minister of  Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development is expected to start proceedings with speeches outlining the need for and contents of the Bills [available from Veritas – see end of this bulletin]

National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill  Item 3 on the Order Paper for 12th April is consideration of the PLC’s Adverse Report on this Bill.  PLC chairperson Jonathan Samkange will start proceedings by explaining the report’s criticism of a number of the Bill’s provisions as inconsistent with the Constitution [full report available from Veritas – follow this link or see end of this bulletin]

General Laws Amendment Bill  Once finally passed by the Senate, the Bill is expected to come back to the National Assembly for approval of the Senate’s amendments [see above and below].

Motions listed for presentation include a motion calling on Zimbabweans to recognise of the leadership of President Mugabe, to complement the efforts of the security services to improve the welfare of the nation and to uphold national unity, peace and development [Hon Shamu and Hon Zindi]; and take note motions on two Portfolio Committee reports – one on the Operations of ARDA and the Cold Storage Company, the other on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s State of Preparedness to Hold Elections.

Question Time  86 written questions are listed for Ministers on Wednesday.

Senate

Bills  The General Laws Amendment Bill awaits the formalities of restoration to the Order Paper [necessitated by the abrupt termination of proceedings last week when the Senate’s quorum evaporated – see above] and Third Reading.  The Bill will then go back to the National Assembly for its approval of those amendments. 

Motions   

Devolution  MDC-T Senators have a new motion expressing concern at the absence of meaningful efforts to implement constitutional requirements to devolve power to provinces and calling on the Government to set a time-limit for urgently addressing the subject of Devolution, to commit itself to the dictates of the Constitution, and to set aside resources to cater for devolution of power to provinces.

Question Time  11 written questions are listed for Ministers on Thursday.

Government Gazette 8th April

Statutory Instruments [2]

Traffic signs and signals regulations   SI 41/2016 is a 156-page A4 document which replaces the 42-year old previous regulations [SI 573/1973].  The new regulations came into force immediately, on 8th April.

Double Taxation Agreement with South Africa  SI 40/2016 gazettes the Agreement of 4th August 2015 between The Governments of Zimbabwe and South Africa For the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income.  When it comes into force the new agreement will replace the current agreement, dating from 1965.  Entry into force is governed by Article 28 of the Agreement, and will depend on when both countries complete their legal procedures for bringing it into force.  A further official notice will therefore be needed to publicise the date on which the Agreement enters into force. 

 

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