BILL WATCH 35/2016
[17th August 2016]
Parliamentary Sittings Resumed on Tuesday 16th August
No Mid-term Fiscal Policy Review This Week
The latest information is that the Mid-term Fiscal Policy Review will not be presented this week. A date for its presentation will be announced in due course.
Parliament is not expected to sit next week.
Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill Gazetted
The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill was at last gazetted on Friday 12th August [the full text of the Bill is available on the Veritas website via this link]. The Bill takes up 79 pages and has a five-page explanatory memorandum. It has been a very long time reaching this stage. Parliament received it from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development late last year and sent it to the Government Printer for printing and gazetting. From January to July this year the Bill featured on Parliament’s regular Status of Bills lists with the note “Bill Proof Transmitted to the AG’s Office 06/01/16 … Awaiting gazetting”; it was returned to the printer on 18th July. It is surprising that checking and correcting the proofs of even so large a Bill should have taken so long – and that a number of careless mistakes have still been overlooked.
The Bill will not be coming up in Parliament this week. Standing Orders lay down that a Bill cannot be introduced until at least two weeks after it has been gazetted.
Standing Orders also state that the appropriate portfolio committee must start work on a Bill as soon as it has been gazetted; in this case that committee is the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy. Committee members will need to understand the changes the Bill will make to the existing mining law as set out in the Mines and Minerals Act; unfortunately, they will not find much enlightenment in the Bill’s explanatory memorandum, which is a singularly unhelpful document.
Our summary of the Bill will be circulated as soon as possible.
Status of Bills as at 17th August
Apart from the gazetting of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [noted above], there has been no change to the position set out in detail in Bill Watch 34/2016. The Land Commission Bill is still under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
Laws on the Flag of Zimbabwe
There have been queries about the existing laws on this subject. In addition to section 4 of the Constitution, there are two such laws: the Flag of Zimbabwe Act and the Flag of Zimbabwe (General) Regulations [SI 194/1987] made by the President under the Act – available as a single document on the Veritas website, here. The responsible Minister is the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
The Act makes it a criminal offence for anyone to burn, mutilate or otherwise insult the Flag [or a reproduction or likeness of it] in circumstances which are calculated or likely to show disrespect for the Flag or bring it into disrepute. The maximum penalty on conviction is a fine not exceeding level 6 [$300] or imprisonment for one year or both.
The regulations make it a criminal offence to import or manufacture the Flag, or apply the Flag [or a reproduction or likeness of it] to or use the Flag on any matter or thing, for the purposes of sale, without the prior permission of the Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The penalty for the offence is the same as for an offence under the Act. For permission to be granted, the Secretary must be satisfied that the activity in question will not bring the Flag into disrepute, will not result in its excessive exploitation for commercial purposes and will not generally be contrary to the public interest.
In Parliament Yesterday
Motion of thanks for the President’s Speech adopted With the end of the present Parliamentary session looming, the long-running debate on this motion was concluded and the motion adopted.
High prevalence of child marriages in Mashonaland Central Hon. Nyamupinga presented a report on this subject by the Portfolio Committee on Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development following public hearings held by the committee at several places in the province.
No other business was dealt with.
Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology Bill The Bill was taken through all its stages and passed without amendment. The next step is the Bill’s submission to the President for his assent and signature, followed by its gazetting as an Act.
Coming up in Parliament
Question Time The first two hours of today’s sitting are reserved for MPs’ questions for Ministers – the first hour for questions without notice on matters of Government policy; the second hour for written questions with notice that appear on the Order Paper and may range from issues of national significance to local problems raised on behalf of constituents. Today’s Order Paper lists 83 written questions.
Motions New motions due to be moved include: a motion to adopt the Public Accounts Committee’s report on the Auditor-General’s findings on the 2014 Appropriation and Funds Accounts for the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; and a motion asking the National Assembly to take note of the Foreign Affairs Portfolio Committee’s report on its exchange visit to the Palestine Legislative Council in May.
Motions No new motions are listed, but there are a number of adjourned debates to be completed on motions previously moved. Debate on the long-running motion of thanks for the President’s speech opening the present session has been adjourned until Thursday.
Question Time The Senate’s Question Time takes place on Thursdays, and the procedure and time allotted are the same as in the National Assembly. 22 written questions with notice are listed for tomorrow. Senator Timveos has put down a new question for the Minister of Home Affairs about the official position on police brutality towards citizens exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully.
Government Gazette 12th August
Bill The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill was gazetted, as noted at the beginning of this bulletin. The covering notice was GN 212/2016.
Fertilizer, farm feeds and remedies – collection of fees SI 83/2016 lays down that “in-transit” inspection fees under the Fertilizer, Farm Feeds and Remedies legislation must now be collected by ZIMRA or some other agent designated by the Minister of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.
New cemeteries for Bulawayo Two SIs notify the establishment of cemeteries for Bulawayo, in Mahatshula [SI 84/2016] and Pumula South [SI 85/2016] – available on the Veritas website, here [SI 84] and here [SI 85].
Plumtree clamping and tow-away by-laws SI 86/2016 [available on the Veritas website, here] contains new by-laws applicable to the entire area under the jurisdiction of the Plumtree Town Council, although the inclusion of a definition of “Central Business District” suggests that the intention may have been to restrict them to that smaller area. The by-laws are so sloppily drafted that no court should be expected to make sense of them, and on that ground alone should not have been approved by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for gazetting.
Comment: Similar clamping and tow-away by-laws have been adopted by other local authorities – six last year, for instance. It may not be generally realised that such by-laws have as much potential as the police spot-fine system for causing unfairness and public outrage [and encouraging corruption by both offenders and enforcers]. For example, take the case of a motorist whose car has been clamped by a council official/agent for a perceived infringement of the traffic by-laws and who wishes to contest the charge in court and have the use of his car while waiting for a court hearing. The Plumtree by-laws provide for that situation by laying down that to get his car back, he will have to pay (1) the prescribed “penalty” for the offence, and (2) the clamping charge plus, if the offending vehicle has been towed away, (3) the towing and storage charges – although if later found not guilty by the court, he will get his money back.
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