BILL WATCH 26-2016

BILL WATCH 26/2016

[20th June 2016]

Both Houses of Parliament Are Sitting This Week

In Parliament Last Week

In the National Assembly

Quorum problem [again]  On Thursday 16th June the National Assembly adjourned prematurely for want of a quorum, putting an abrupt end to debate on Hon Maridadi’s motion on a matter of definite public importance [see below under Motions].   The mandatory resumed sitting on Friday morning failed to take off, also for want of a quorum.

Delinquent Ministers   On 15th June Hon Chamisa raised two issues – (1) Ministers routinely failing to respond to portfolio committee reports within the 10-day period allowed by Standing Orders, (2)  Ministers failing to report to the House explaining late tabling of annual reports and accounts of public entities, also in breach of Standing Orders.  The Speaker informed MPs that Parliament’s administration had been checking on Ministers and that half a dozen Ministers had been written to personally requesting compliance.  Also mentioned by the Speaker was that Ministers have been failing to comply with their obligation to respond timeously to motions presented by MPs – thereby delaying winding-up of debates.    

Bills

Local Government Laws Amendment Bill  The week’s sittings passed with the Bill still under consideration by  the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]. 

Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology Bill  On 16th June the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development wound up the Second Reading debate with a careful and comprehensive response to points raised by MPs during the debate.  He undertook to take up suggested amendments to the Bill that were acceptable to Government.

Zimbabwe National Defence University Bill   The House did not get round to dealing with recommittal of the Bill for approval of a simple amendment to the definition of “Minister” shifting responsibility for the new University from the Minister of Defence to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.  The amendment was approved by the Senate at Government’s request on 19th May.

Ministerial Statement on Junior Parliament  On 15th June the Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment made a statement on the Official Opening of the 24th Session of the Junior Parliament of Zimbabwe on 18th June.

Motions

Matter of urgent public importance – Statement by Zimbabwe Medical Association [ZIMA] requiring cash up-front from patients on medical aid   On 17th June Hon Maridadi requested and was granted the leave of the House to raise this issue without prior written notice.  Contributions to the debate came from all sides of the House, with MPs illustrating the impossible situation faced by patients if ZIMA members went ahead with their threat to refuse to accept medical aid cards from 1st July onwards.  ZIMA members complain that because medical aid societies do not pay their claims timeously or at all, unpaid doctors find themselves paying income tax on income not received.  Various aspects of the problem were raised, including that medical aid societies are owed large sums by employers, including Government.  MPs demanded that the Minister of Health and Child Care explain matters to the House next week.

Portfolio Committee report on Mission Hospitals  Hon Mguni introduced a take note motion on the Health and Child Care committee’s report on the Implementation of the Targeted Approach Programme in Mission Hospitals.

Observation mission report on Congo-Brazzaville Presidential Elections in March  Hon A. Mnangagwa introduced her take note motion on the African Union Observation Mission report on these elections.

Question Time   The start of Question Time was delayed by points of order, including one asking that all MPs be issued with diplomatic passports.  Vice-President Mnangagwa explained that the Speaker had raised the matter with the President, who had declined to authorise a general issue of such passports. 

In the Senate

Bills  On 16th June after Question Time the Special Economic Zones Bill went through all stages.  It was passed without adding to the amendments already made in the National Assembly.  The Bill will now be prepared for submission to the President for his assent and subsequent gazetting as an Act.

Motions 

Corruption  Senator B. Sibanda introduced a motion calling on legislators to take an unequivocal stance against it and to closely monitor the Executive’s performance in dealing with reported cases.

Question Time  The Minister of Finance and Economic Development was kept busy answering questions about the present liquidity crisis and the proposed issue of bond notes.

Coming up In Parliament This Week

Two-week recess coming up   If Parliament sticks to its sitting calendar, both Houses will take a two-week recess after Thursday’s sittings.  They will resume sitting on Tuesday 12th July and sit for the next three weeks. 

In the National Assembly

Bills

Zimbabwe National Defence University Bill – for consideration of the Government-requested amendment made by the Senate to the re-opened Bill.  The amendment will approve the President’s decision to make the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development responsible for the University in place of the Minister of Defence, who had that responsibility during the Bill’s initial passage through Parliament in March [see note and comment in Bill Watch 24/3026 of 6th June]

Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology Bill – for Committee Stage.  The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development has given notice that he will propose several amendments to the Bill.

Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill – for delivery of Minister’s speech opening the Second Reading debate.

Motions

Take note motions on Portfolio Committee reports  Several reports are lined up for presentation – on the administration of BEAM; working conditions at Hwange Colliery, National Railways and Dete Refractories.

AIPPA  Next on  the agenda is Hon Maridadi’s motion calling for the urgent tabling by the Executive of a Bill to repeal those provisions of the Access to Information and Preservation of Privacy Act in violation of section 61 of the Constitution [such as those dealing with registration of journalists and issues of privacy].

Birth certificates  Hon D. Sibanda’s motion calls for remedial action to ensure prompt provision of birth certificates and measures to address sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

Question Time [22nd June]  68 written questions are listed.  Hon Cross asks the Minister of Finance and Economic Development for details of Civil Service Pensioners both pre- and post-the 2015 Audit, and measures to ensure only legitimate pensioners receive pensions.

In the Senate

Bills  

The Senate awaits Bills from the National Assembly.   

Motions  Senator B. Sibanda is due to move his motion calling for action against corruption, including Parliamentary monitoring of the Executive’s performance in dealing with reported cases.

Question Time [23rd June]  4 written questions are listed.  One asks the Minister of Rural Development and Preservation of Culture and Heritage to state measures in place to address settlement of disputes in resettlement areas in accordance with traditional customs and culture. 

Government Gazettes 17th June

Two Gazettes s were published on 17th June – the regular Friday issue and a Gazette Extraordinary containing SI 64/2016 imposing import control on a wide range of imported goods [see below].

Statutory Instruments

Customs rebate for furniture manufacturer – SI 62/2016 adds a seventeenth company to the list of importers entitled to this rebate.  This should be read with SI 64’s new controls on importation of furniture [see below].

Broadcasting licensing and content – SI 63/2016 changes the fees payable to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe for a “content distribution service” licence. 

Extension of import control   SI 64/2016 imposes import control on a wide range of goods in the interests of local manufacturers and producers.  It does this by greatly expanding the existing list of goods that cannot be imported under the Open General Import Licence.  The result is that, effective 17th June, imports of the goods listed in SI 64/2016 are prohibited unless authorised by a special import licence issued by the Secretary for Industry and Commerce.  Goods newly affected include “builders’ ware products”, coffee creamers, baked beans, potato crisps, cereals, bottled water, tinned fruit and vegetables, jams, cheese, many items of household and office furniture, and woven fabrics of cotton.  

 

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