BILL WATCH 45/2016
[4th October 2016]
Both Houses of Parliament Resume Sitting Today 4th October
The Official Opening of the Fourth Session will be on Thursday 6th October
Both Houses to Resume Sitting Tuesday 4th October
Despite the postponement of the Official Opening, from today until Thursday [see next item], both the National Assembly and the Senate will have to meet today 4th October. This is because when they last sat, on 15th September and 18th August respectively, both resolved to adjourn until today. They must, therefore, meet today, because while the President can effectively move the Official Opening, he does not have the power under the Constitution to cancel or postpone sittings decided on by Parliament.
Not much business is likely to be done because it was not expected that this week would see anything other than the Official Opening. There is, however, unfinished Third Session business that could be done, if it is desired to make use of the time that has become available at short notice today and tomorrow, if there are sittings tomorrow. This business is briefly indicated later in this bulletin.
Official Opening of New Session: Thursday 6th October
A proclamation gazetted last week [SI 116/2016] changed the date of the Official Opening of the Fourth Session of the present Parliament [SI available via this link to the Veritas website]. The President will now open the Fourth Session on Thursday 6th October at a special sitting that will begin at 12 noon. [Although it does not say so in as many words, the proclamation repeals and replaces the earlier proclamation, gazetted in SI 101/2016, that scheduled the Official Opening for 4th October].
The proceedings inside Parliament will be preceded by the traditional pomp and ceremony – a mounted escort for the Presidential limousine, an inspection of the guard of honour and a 21-gun salute and flypast before the President enters Parliament building and takes his seat in the National Assembly.
The President’s speech is expected to include an indication of the Bills the Government expects to be passed by Parliament during the course of the session, which will last for about a year.
Immediately after the President’s speech, both Houses will follow usual practice, by adjourning to enable MPs to study the President’s speech in preparation for the debate on the speech that will follow in accordance with Standing Orders. The adjournment will be as short one, to next week.
Possible Business for the National Assembly Today & Tomorrow
Debate on the 2016 Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review
Item 1 on the Order Paper for 4th October gives MPs a chance to debate the 2016 Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review statement presented at its one-day sitting on 15th September by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. This debate did not start immediately after the Minister finished his statement, as has been the custom. The usual pattern is that debate starts with a contribution from the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development, followed by other MPs. As the Minister predicted in his presentation, the Governor of the Reserve Bank presented his Mid-Term Monetary Policy Review statement a few days later and MPs will certainly have followed the Minister’s suggestion that they read both documents together. [Both statements are available on the Veritas website via these links – (1) Minister's Fiscal Policy Review and (2) RBZ Monetary Policy Review.]
The Minister’s statement did not cover bond notes, but the Governor’s statement did; MPs will probably ask the Minister to expand on what the Governor had to say, particularly his definition of a bond note, which was this – “The bond notes will be zero-coupon, tax-exempt debt instruments.” [quotation from page 58 of the RBZ Monetary Policy statement].
Only three Bills are mentioned on the Order Paper—
Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill Item 2 on the Order Paper is the Second Reading debate on this Bill.
Zimbabwe National Defence University Bill Although passed by both Houses some months ago, this Bill has been re-committed for a simple amendment that will make the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development the responsible Minister, instead of the Minister of Defence. The Senate has already approved the change. This is something that could easily be finalised this week.
Land Commission Bill The report of the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] is awaited, the Bill having been referred to the PLC after it was introduced on 28th July.
Question Time [Wednesday afternoon]
On Wednesday afternoons, in accordance with Standing Orders, Private Members business takes precedence over Government business, starting with two hours set aside for Question Time – one hour for Questions without Notice [on issues of Government policy], then one hour for Written Questions with Notice, as listed on the Order Paper.
The Order Paper lists many motions, some yet to be introduced, some already being debated. It is unlikely there will be any progress.
Possible Business for the Senate Today & Tomorrow
Approval of International Agreements relating to UNWTO
The Senate will be able to complete Parliament’s approval of the assumption of international obligations relating to the UN World Tourism Organisation. The National Assembly played its part on 15th September when, on the motion of the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon Walter Mzembi, the National Assembly approved Zimbabwe’s—
- ratification of the pending Amendments to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s Statutes and Financing Rules
- accession to Annex XVIII of the 1947 United Nations Convention on Privileges and Immunities relating to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
In the absence of Hon Mzembi, the motion was presented on his behalf by the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Hon Hlongwane. He explained the nature of the amendments to the UNWTO Statutes [including a four-year term of office for its Secretary-General, renewable once, and the recognition of Chinese as an official language of the organisation] and financing rules [including how to deal with member states in arrears with their subscriptions]. He also told MPs that the accession to the Convention on Privileges and Immunities Annex would place the UNWTO on the same footing within Zimbabwe as other UN specialised agencies such as ILO, FAO, ICAO, WHO, UNESCO and the IMF, which already enjoy privileges and immunities in Zimbabwe. The National Assembly approved the motion without debate or opposition. But the Senate’s approval is also required under section 327 of the Constitution.
Bills There are no Bills on the Senate’s Order Paper.
Question Time Thursday’s Senate Question Time will not take place, because the Senate will not be sitting that afternoon.
Recently Gazetted Bills
Deeds Registries Amendment Bill
This Bill [available via this link to the Veritas website] was noted in Bill Watch 39/2016 of 1st September.
Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes) Bill
This Bill [available via this link to the Veritas website] was also noted in Bill Watch 39/2016 of 1st September.
National Competitiveness Commission Bill
This Bill was gazetted on 23rd September [and is available via this link to the Veritas website]. It will repeal the National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act, but includes provision continuing in force things done under that Act, including any regulations still in force when the Bill eventually takes effect as law. The Bill will establish the new Commission, which it says is intended “to enable a competitive environment for Zimbabwean businesses through the development, coordination and implementation of key policy improvements”.
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