BILL WATCH 23/2016
[30th May 2016]
Parliament will not sit again until Tuesday 7th June
At the of their sittings on Thursday 19th May both Houses of Parliament began a two-week recess by adjourning until Tuesday 7th June. Committee business is likewise suspended until Monday 6th June, although this week’s public hearings on child marriage will go ahead as planned [see Bill Watch Parliamentary Committees Series 18/2016 of 20th May for details of date, time and place].
Joint Ventures Act Now in Operation
The Joint Ventures Act [Act 6/2015] came into operation on Friday 27th May. This date of commencement was fixed by the President in Statutory Instrument 53/2016 gazetted on 27th May. All Acts of 2015 are now in force. [They are also available from Veritas – see end of bulletin.]
Mazowe North By-Election: The Candidates
Friday 27th May, was nomination day. Two candidates will contest the by-election scheduled for Saturday 23rd July—
- Martin Dinha of ZANU-PF
- Elias Malukula of the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe.
Advocate Dinha has been Minister of State for Provincial Affairs [Mashonaland Central] since September 2013, when he was one of five persons appointed to Ministerial positions from outside Parliament. [Reminder: Section 104(3) of the Constitution allows the President to have up to five Ministers or Deputy Ministers who are not members of the National Assembly or the Senate; they may sit and speak, but not vote, in either House.] If he wins the by-election, he will forfeit his Ministerial position; it will be recalled that this was what happened to Professor Jonathan Moyo, also appointed a Minister from outside Parliament in 2013, when he won the Tsholotsho North by-election in June 2015 – but whether, like Professor Moyo, he will be re-appointed to a Ministerial position remains to be seen in due course. In any event, a win for Advocate Dinha in the by-election would allow the President to appoint another Minister or Deputy Minister from outside Parliament.
GN 85/2016 dated 23rd May sets out the terms of Clemency Order No. 1 of 2016. Although stated to have been signed by President Mugabe on 20th April, this was not publicly announced until last week – contemporaneously with ZANU-PF’s “Million-Man March” gathering in Harare on Africa Day, 25th May. Contrary to some press reports, the beneficiaries have not been pardoned. Their criminal records remain unchanged. But they have, unconditionally, been spared from having to serve the remainder of their sentences of imprisonment. Main beneficiaries are women – “all female prisoners, regardless of the offence committed, save for those sentenced to life imprisonment and to death” – and prisoners under 18 years of age – “all juvenile prisoners under the age of eighteen years serving terms of imprisonment, irrespective of the offences they committed”. [Full Clemency Order available from Veritas.]
In Parliament 17th to 19th May
Draft Asset Declaration Register
Senators and members of the National Assembly were told on 18th May that the Draft Asset Declaration Register had been circulated to them through their lobby pigeonholes and that they should consider the Draft Register and submit their views and recommendations on it to Counsel to Parliament’s Office by 31st May. The Committee on Standing Rules and Orders will consider these views and recommendations before finalising the Register. Also circulated to all MPs was the Code of Ethics for Members of Parliament approved by the Sixth Parliament, i.e. more than seven years ago.
In the National Assembly
Another quorum failure Proceedings were again terminated prematurely on 17th May for lack of a quorum.
Speaker’s Ruling on unsubstantiated allegations of human trafficking against fellow MPs On 18th May the Speaker gave a lengthy ruling on this subject, cautioning that freedom of speech in Parliament does not permit the making of spurious allegations calculated to unjustly injure the dignity of others. Hon Chamisa registered his disagreement with the ruling; party whips and Vice-President Mnangagwa intervened, and Mr Chamisa apologised; the episode ended with the Speaker saying his ruling stood but could be challenged in the Constitutional Court by those who thought he had erred. [Ruling available from Veritas request from address shown at end of bulletin. ]
Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology Bill After the Second Reading speech explaining the Bill by the Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, debate was adjourned to await a Portfolio Committee report on the Bill and the committee’s public hearings on it.
Special Economic Zones Bill The Bill, as amended during the Committee Stage, received a non-adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on Wednesday 18th May, and now awaits its final stages in the National Assembly before going to the Senate.
Trafficking in persons Debate on Hon Nyamupinga’s motion on trafficking of girls and young women was cut short by the no-quorum adjournment on Tuesday, which meant the motion lapsed until restored to the Order Paper at Thursday’s sitting.
Question Time Somewhat delayed by the Speaker’s ruling on unsubstantiated allegations and the resulting discussion, Question Time took up the remainder of the sitting on Wednesday 18th May.
In the Senate
Zimbabwe National Defence University Bill This Bill, previously passed by both Houses without amendment, was brought back to the Senate on 18th May following information that the President had assigned it to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development instead of the Minister of Defence. An amendment was then made – by replacing the reference to the Minister of Defence in the definition of “Minister” with a reference to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development. After clearance by the Parliamentary Legal Committee, the Bill was passed and sent to the National Assembly for approval of the amendment. [Reminder: The Bill was introduced and piloted through Parliament by the Minister of Defence, who insisted in his presentation that it was essential for the Zimbabwe National Defence University to be under his Ministry.]
Motions Debate continued on motions previously introduced.
Question Time took place on 19th May.
Coming up In Parliament After the Recess
As neither House will be sitting this week, the likely agenda for the sittings commencing on Tuesday 7th June will be indicated in a separate bulletin to be issued nearer the time. In the meantime, the following information on the current status of Bills may be useful to readers.
Status of Bills as at 27th May
Passed by Parliament, but not yet gazetted as Acts
Awaiting Presidential assent and/or gazetting
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill [passed 9th March, sent for Presidential assent on 12th May]
Being prepared for sending to President
General Laws Amendment Bill [passed 14th April]
Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences Bill [passed 12th May]
Gwanda State University Bill [passed 12th May]
Awaiting Second Reading Stage in Senate
Public Finance Management Bill [passed by National Assembly 12th May]
Awaiting Consideration of Senate amendment by National Assembly
Zimbabwe National Defence University Bill [The Bill, although it received its final affirmative vote on 8th May, was brought back to the Senate for a minor amendment to be made which was approved by the Senate. The National Assembly must now consider the amendment. See above.]
Awaiting final approval by National Assembly
Special Economic Zones Bill [PLC returned non-adverse report on 17th May – on Committee Stage amendments]
Awaiting continuation of Second Reading stage in National Assembly
Ministerial speeches explaining the following Bills were delivered on 3rd May—
- Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology Bill
- Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill.
Continuation of the Second Reading debates now await the presentation of Portfolio Committee reports on the Bills.
Gazetted and awaiting introduction
Local Government Laws Amendment Bill [gazetted 9th May – therefore ready for First Reading and reference to Parliamentary Legal Committee when Parliament resumes] Parliament has invited comments on the Bill, stipulating they must be received before Tuesday 31st May. The email address to use is firstname.lastname@example.org.
[All the above Bills are available from Veritas.]
Being prepared for gazetting
The texts of these Bills will only be available when they have been officially gazetted—
- Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [proofs still being checked by drafters]
- *Land Commission Bill [sent to Government Printer 5th May, proofs being checked by drafters]
* This is the first time the Land Commission Bill has featured on this list.
Government Gazette 20th to 27th May
Statutory Instruments – 20th May
Defence Force retirements – extension to 65 of retiring age for war veterans SI 50/2016 [available from Veritas] contains regulations amending the Defence (Regular Force) (Officers) Regulations. The preamble states that the regulations have been made by the Minister of Defence after consultation with the Defence Forces Service Commission. Like SI 135/2014, which it replaces, SI 50/2016 is, therefore, ultra vires because section 218 of the Constitution, overriding the Defence Act provision cited in the preamble, provides that such regulations must be made by the Defence Forces Service Commission [see discussion of SI 135/2014 in Bill Watch 35/2014 of 11th September 2014]. The effect of SI 50/2016, if validly enacted, would be to cut down considerably the exclusive “right” of war veteran Defence Force officers to a “special” retirement age of 65. Further discussion of this subject will follow in a subsequent bulletin.
VAT refunds for Global Fund SI 51/2016 provides for refunds of VAT paid in respect of goods or services by the Global Fund for the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria. The SI is backdated to 1st January 2015.
Statutory Instruments – 27th May
Collective bargaining agreement – Commercial Sectors SI 52/2016 specifies new minimum “all inclusive” wages for the month of December 2015.
Joint Ventures Act – date of commencement SI 53/2016 fixes 27th May as the Act’s date of commencement [see note earlier in this bulletin].
Presidential amnesty GN 85/2016 is noted earlier in this bulletin.
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