BILL WATCH 17/2017
[15th May 2017]
Both Houses will continue sitting this week
Of Particular Public Interest in this Issue
The Constitution Amendment Bill, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the Land Commission Bills
Activity on Bills Last Week [9th to 11th May]
Three Bills completed and passed
National Competitiveness Commission Bill This sailed through the Senate without amendment on 9th May. The Bill will go to the President for assent without any amendments having been made by either House.
Both these Bills went through their final stages in the National Assembly on 9th May, the way for this having been cleared by the Parliamentary Legal Committee’s non-adverse reports of 4th May on the amendments made earlier to both Bills. They were then taken through the Senate on 10th May [Second Readings] and 11th May [remaining stages]. Neither Bill was amended by the Senate, so both will now be prepared for Presidential assent and gazetting so as to include the amendments made by the National Assembly.
Bills passed by National Assembly, and sent to Senate
Movable Property Security Interests Bill On 11th May the Minister of Finance and Economic Development took this Bill, as earlier amended by the House, through its final stages; this followed the announcement of the PLC’s 5th May non-adverse report on the amendments. The Bill was then transmitted to the Senate. [Bill available here, amendments here]
Other Bills in the National Assembly
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill – Second Reading stage gets under way
On 9th May Vice-President Mnangagwa delivered his Second Reading speech [link to full speech] explaining why the Government believes the Bill to be necessary. There was no further discussion because the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs was not ready to present its report on the Bill and the public hearings conducted on it during February. As the Portfolio Committee is meeting this afternoon, 15th May, to finalise the report, it may be that the report will be presented on 16th May and that MPs will then be able to debate the Bill.
National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill – Portfolio Committee report presented
On 9th May Hon Ziyambi presented the Portfolio Committee’s report [available on the Veritas website link]. The report records the hostility towards the Bill expressed at its public hearings, particularly in Matabeleland, and is critical of aspects of the Bill without making specific suggestions for amendments. Debate followed, starting with Hon Gonese and Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga, both highly critical. Hon Chasi explained why he had “great difficulty in supporting it from any angle whatsoever and from a technical drafting point of view, it is a disaster”. Members present dropped below the quorum, but once a quorum had been formed Hon Majome and other MPs objected that neither Vice-President Mphoko nor any officials from his office were present, and debate was then adjourned until such time as the Vice-President could be present to follow debate in person. The week’s sittings ended without further progress.
Minister of Mines and Mining Development moves on two Bills
Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill This Bill [link] was gazetted on 12th August 2016, so it has been awaiting further movement for an inordinately long time. On 11th May the Minister of Mines and Mining Development finally presented it, and it then received its First Reading and was immediately referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for a report on the Bill’s constitutionality. Stakeholders who wish to make representations to the PLC on the Bill’s constitutionality are free to submit them to the Clerk of Parliament for the attention of the PLC, but should remember that the PLC can only comment on constitutional and legal aspects not political ones. Representations on policy issues or the potential impact of the Bill are matters for the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, which has already conducted public hearings on the Bill in September 2016. Given the time that has elapsed since then and recent developments in the mining sector, the Portfolio Committee may feel it necessary to give interested parties a further opportunity to comment on the Bill, even to hold further public hearings.
Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill Also on 11th May, the Minister gave notice that on 16th May he will request the House to approve a motion restoring this Bill to the Order Paper at the stage it had reached at the end of the last Parliamentary session, at which point it lapsed – hence its disappearance from the present session’s Order Papers until now. The Bill had been cleared by the PLC before the end of the last session, and was awaiting the Minister’s explanatory speech at the beginning of its Second Reading stage, so it is at that stage it will resume if the House agrees. The Portfolio Committee’s public hearings on this Bill were conducted in May 2016, so its report may need to be dusted off and perhaps updated.
Bills Coming Up in Parliament This Week [16th to 18th May]
Once again the National Assembly faces a busy week. Bills are listed in the following order on the Order Paper for 16th May, but this order will not necessarily be adhered to; it will depend on Government priorities—
Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill – for approval of resolution restoring the Bill [link] to the Order Paper.
Estate Administrators Amendment Bill for Second Reading stage [Bill available here]
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill [link] for continuation of the Second Reading stage, with the presentation of the Portfolio Committee’s report on both the Bill and February’s public hearings. [A critical commentary on the Bill is available on the Veritas website [link], as is our submission that the Bill is not necessary, and certainly not urgent [link].]
National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill [link] for continuation of Second Reading stage if Vice-President Mphoko can be present [see Veritas analysis of the Bill here]. The Portfolio Committee report is also available on the Veritas website link.
Two Bills await attention—
Movable Property Security Interests Bill For Second Reading stage, having only been received from the National Assembly on 11th May. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development will lead off with his speech explaining the Bill.
Land Commission Bill [stalled by a PLC adverse report] The Senate is still waiting for the outcome of discussions between the PLC and Senator Chiefs on the PLC’s adverse report on the Senate’s amendments to the Bill [covered in Bill Watches 14 and 15]. [Available on the Veritas website – a document [link] containing the PLC adverse report, Hon Samukange’s explanation of the report in the Senate on 4th April and an extract from Senator Chief Charumbira’s contribution indicating why Senator Chiefs believe the PLC erred. Also the text of the Bill [link], annotated to show the amendments made by the National Assembly before the Bill was transmitted to the Senate.]
Bills Passed but not yet Gazetted as Acts
ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill [link] Parliament sent the Bill to the President on 21st April [notified by the Speaker in GN 268/2017 of 28th April].
Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Bill [link]
National Competitiveness Commission Bill [link]