BILL WATCH 20-2017

BILL WATCH 20/2017

[12th June 2017]

Parliament will continue sitting this week

Dismissal of Prosecutor-General

General Notice 292/2017, published by the Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in the Government Gazette of 9th June, notifies the removal from office of the Prosecutor-General, Johannes Tomana, with effect from 9th June.  This followed the President’s receipt of the report of the Tribunal appointed under section 187(3) as read with section 259(7) of the Constitution.  The Tribunal advised that Mr Tomana ought to be removed from office for “incompetence and misconduct”, obliging the President to act as so advised.

Note: The relevant constitutional provisions state that the removal from office of a Prosecutor-General is subject to the same procedure as the removal of a judge.  Likewise, Mr Tomana’s successor must be appointed by the President following the procedure for appointment of a judge – public call for nomination of candidates; public interviews of candidates by Judicial Service Commission; President limited to appointing from a list of three persons recommended by the Commission.  The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill currently before Parliament does not seek to change this position.

Bills Passed by Parliament but not yet Gazetted as Acts

This week’s list is one item shorter than last week’s after the removal of what was previously its first item – the ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill [link].   Parliament sent that Bill to the President on 21st April [notified by the Speaker in GN 268/2017 of 28th April] but on 7th June the Speaker told MPs that the President had returned the Bill for further attention [see more below].

These three Bills were sent to the President for his assent on 5th June—

·        National Competitiveness Commission Bill  [link]   

·        Deeds Registries Amendment Bill [link to Bill; link to amendments]

·        Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes) Bill [link to Bill, link to amendments]

These two Bills are still being prepared for submission to the President—

·        Movable Property Security Interests Bill [link to Bill, link to amendments]

·        Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Bill [link]   

In the National Assembly Last Week

Speaker’s Ruling on MPs Taking Points of Order and Privilege

On 6th June the Speaker announced a ruling clarifying the procedure for raising points of order and points of privilege [link].  The ruling was in reaction to what he described as “a disturbing trend where Hon Members have developed a tendency of abusing Standing Orders” pertaining to the raising of such points.

Bills

Estate Administrators Amendment Bill   The entire Second Reading stage was dealt with on 6th June, embracing Vice-President Mnangagwa’s introductory speech, the portfolio committee’s report and MPs’ largely positive contributions.  The Vice-President in his reply welcomed the debate as useful and said he would consider putting forward Committee Stage amendments to give effect to suggestions made.  There was no further progress  by week’s end.

Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill  The Second Reading debate continued, taking up time in each of the three afternoon sittings.  Acting President Mnangagwa attended all three sittings.  On 6th June Hon Ziyambi presented the report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs [link].  MPs followed with their contributions, with Opposition MPs opposing the proposed change to the procedure for appointing the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge-President.  Debate was not concluded. 

National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill  There was no progress.

Bill returned to Parliament by President

On 6th June the Speaker announced that the President had declined to grant his assent to the ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill to Parliament owing to reservations pertaining to the last paragraph of the preamble, which the President noted was “not clear on what should be done and who would be responsible for the said enactment”.  The President is right.  Indeed, reconsideration of the whole Bill is essential.  There are other defects also, as apparent in the Bill as originally gazetted, which we have used because there were no amendments to the Bill during its passage through Parliament.  These defects include [the list is not exhaustive]—

·         in the preamble, the second paragraph is incomplete

·         still in the preamble, there is no paragraph explaining that there has been an agreement with ZEP-RE that Zimbabwe will host a ZEP-RE branch office – perhaps the glaringly out-of-place words “and the company have agreed as follows” in the Bill’s enacting words are all that remain of a lost paragraph to that effect?

·         the presence of a First Schedule when there is no Second Schedule – does this mean that there is a missing schedule?

·         the lack of an explanation of where the contents of the First Schedule come from – if the source is the Host Agreement, why is the term “Host Agreement” defined in Article 2 as set out in the schedule?

·         the inclusion in the short title of the words “Membership of Zimbabwe” when the Bill does not expressly confirm or approve Zimbabwe’s membership of ZEP-RE.

It is also to be hoped that the Bill as submitted to the President did not include  the explanatory memorandum for MPs that appeared in the gazetted Bill as the concluding few lines of the First Schedule. 

Motions

Stiff sentencing for rape and other gender-based violence crimes   The House approved Hon Majome’s motion to restore her lapsed motion to the Order Paper.

Three substantive motions were moved—

Portfolio Committee Report on Utilisation of the Brazilian Mechanisation Facility and the Livestock Situation in Zimbabwe  The take-note motion was moved by Hon Chitindi.

Acts of violence by political parties  Hon Mandipaka of ZANU-PF at last had the opportunity to move his long-standing motion calling for measures against acts of violence by political parties, and pointed out it had been prompted by disturbances in August 2016 in Harare and Beitbridge.  He praised police conduct at the time and referred to burning of a police vehicle and a ZBC vehicle, injuries to police officers and destruction by fire at Beitbridge.  Note: The next motion in a long queue of MPs’ motions awaiting introduction is from Hon Chamisa of MDC-T, prompted by a different aspect of the same disturbances; it complains of police personnel beating up innocent civilians and calls, inter alia, for an Act of Parliament to set up an Independent Complaints Mechanism to deal with police misconduct as required by section 210 of the Constitution.   

Report on Brussels ACP Parliamentary Assembly and ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly meetings  Hon Dr Shumba, leader of Parliament’s delegation to these meetings, presented the delegation’s report on the meetings and requested the House to take note of it. 

Question Time [Wednesday]  MPs called for a comprehensive Ministerial statement on the erosion of pensions by dollarization.  Next day the Deputy Speaker announced that a statement would be made by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development when the statement was ready.

In the Senate Last Week

Land Commission Bill   Once again, the week passed without the Senate being asked to deal with the Parliamentary Legal Committee’s adverse report on the amendments it had made to the Bill in March as requested by Senator Chiefs.  No explanation for the continued delay was given.  For a detailed note on the problem that has been holding up this Bill, please see Bill Watch 19/2017 [link]

Motions   The Senate tidied up its Order Paper somewhat by adopting the following motions—

Domestication of SADC Model Law on Child Marriages  [Senator Mohadi’s motion – adopted 6th June]

Thematic Committee Report on Early Child Marriages [take-note motion – adopted 8th June]

Encouragement of large families  [Senator Musaka’s motion calling for incentives for families to have at least 8 children and for NGOs and other organisations promoting birth control to be requested to promote family growth – adopted 8th June].

Coming up in the National Assembly This Week [13th to 15th June]

Bills

Bills are listed for attention in the following order—

Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill [link[for continuation of the Second Reading debate]

Estate Administrators Amendment Bill [link]   [for Committee Stage]

National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill [link]    [for continuation of the Second Reading debate]

ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill  [for reconsideration in the light of the President’s refusal to assent to the Bill as previously passed by Parliament]

Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill [link]   [for consideration of motion to restore this lapsed Bill to the Order Paper.  The Minister is expected to explain whether or not he intends to persist with the Bill in its present form, following the reminder given to him at an earlier sitting that the Portfolio Committee’s report on this Bill was expressed opposition to the amalgamation of exploration and marketing functions under one corporation.

Bill awaiting PLC report

Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [link]  The PLC still has this very large Bill  under consideration.  The size of the task may have prompted the PLC to request the Speaker for  an extension of the reporting deadline.  

Motions

Police beating-up of innocent civilians   Hon Chamisa’s motion, already referred to above under last week’s National Assembly entry, is next in line.  

Coming up in the Senate This Week [13th to 15th June]

Land Commission Bill   Perhaps there will at last be progress.  For a detailed note on the problem that has been holding up this Bill, please see Bill Watch 19/2017 [link]

Motions  

Committee Report on Non-Establishment of community share ownership trusts in Mudzi and Mutoko districts   Senator Tawengwa is due to present this report by the Thematic Committee on Indigenisation and Empowerment.

Government Gazette 9th June 

Statutory Instruments [only one SI gazetted]

Police Association Regulations  SI 74/2017 contains a new set of regulations for the ZRP Association, made under the Police Act.  They replacing the 1965 regulations under which the Association has been operating hitherto, but continuing in force rules made under those regulations.  The function of the Association is to consider and bring to the notice of the Commissioner-General all matters affecting the welfare and efficiency of members.  Note:  Most of the 20 or so sets of regulations in force under the Police Act date from well before Independence.  All have been amended since their original enactment.  It is to be hoped that SI 74/2017 signals the start of a general updating and republication of all these old regulations. 

General Notices

GN 292/2017, noted at the beginning of this bulletin, notifies the removal from office of Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana. 

  

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