BILL WATCH 35/2017
[29th September 2017]
In Parliament 19th to 28th September [Last Week and This Week]
Only the National Assembly sat last week, but this week both Houses met. Tuesday’s sitting of the Senate was its first since the opening of the present session of Parliament.
In the National Assembly Last Week
Sittings and attendance
The National Assembly sat on Tuesday 19th, Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st September. Not much was achieved. The House sat for just under two hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, and only one and a quarter hours on Thursday. Longer and more productive sittings will be needed if Parliament is to fulfil the expectations outlined in the legislative agenda presented to MPs by the President on 12th September.
Constituency Development Fund
The Speaker advised the House that copies of the draft Constitution for the Constituency Development Fund had been placed in members’ pigeon holes and requested MPs to study it, to submit their input to Parliamentary Counsel’s Office by Friday 29th September and to treat the matter with urgency.
These committees are sessional committees, to be reappointed at the beginning of each session. The Speaker informed the House that the committees would continue as constituted for the previous session pending appointments by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.
Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill presented and referred to PLC
On 20th September the Minister of Finance and Economic Development presented the Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill [link] and it was read the first time. As required by the Constitution, it was immediately referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] for its report on the constitutionality of the Bill.
Bills from last session restored to the Order Paper
On 20th and 21st September the House approved motions restoring to the Order Paper all uncompleted Bills that lapsed at the end of the previous session. All the Bills listed below were restored to the Order Paper at the stage previously reached. Earlier proceedings, therefore, will not need to be repeated; the House will simply continue from where it left off.
• Land Commission Bill – back for approval of Senate amendments
• National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill – awaiting PLC report on amendments
• Shop Licences Amendment Bill – awaiting initial PLC report on the Bill
• ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill – for consideration of amendment to its preamble following the President’s sending the Bill back to Parliament with a reservation about a perceived defect in the preamble
• Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill – awaiting initial PLC report on the Bill
• Insolvency Bill – awaiting initial PLC report on the Bill
• Estate Administrators Amendment Bill – ready for Committee Stage.
Reports received from PLC on restored Bills
On 22nd September the Speaker announced the receipt of PLC reports on two restored Bills that had been under consideration by the PLC at the end of the last session:
• A non-adverse report on the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, clearing the way for the Minister of Mines and Mining Development to deliver his speech starting the Second Reading stage of this Bill.
• An adverse report on the Shop Licences Amendment Bill. For the effect of this adverse report see below under the heading In the National Assembly This Week. The report is available on the Veritas website [link].
Motion on the President’s opening speech of 12th September Hon DM Ncube, the proposer, delivered his speech, seconded by Hon N Mlilo, and individual MPs began their contributions.
Motion on fair regional and gender representation Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga’s motion from the last session was restored to the Order Paper.
Question Time (Wednesday)
Issues raised included:
Cash shortages and their consequences for the general public and merchants The Minister of Finance and Economic Development was bombarded with questions about money-laundering, the black market in dollars and bond notes, street money traders having trunks full of cash, monthly bank charges to merchants using bank swipe machines, etc. etc. He promised to investigate, consult the Reserve Bank and make a Ministerial Statement [see below].
Voter registration In response to questions, Vice-President Mnangagwa undertook to consult the ZEC chairperson and then to make a comprehensive statement.
In the National Assembly This Week
Non-adverse PLC report on Insolvency Bill
On Tuesday 26th September a non-adverse PLC report on the Insolvency Bill was announced. This cleared the Bill for the start of the Second Reading stage.
Two Bills passed
ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill On Tuesday the House quickly approved a new preamble to the Bill, to meet the reservations expressed by the President when he returned the Bill for correction of a defect.
National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill On Tuesday a non-adverse PLC report was received on the amendments made to the Bill during the last session. On Wednesday, after Question Time, the House took the Bill through its final stages, passed it and transmitted it to the Senate. See Bill Watch 30/2017 of 4th September [link] for a detailed update on the amendments. An annotated version of the Bill indicating the amendments is available on the Veritas website [link].
Correction of error in Bill Watch 30/2017, which, in its update on the progress of the Bill, incorrectly attributed to Hon Gonese three amendments made to the Bill during the Committee Stage. The attribution should have been to Hon Majome, to whom we accordingly apologise. As we criticised two of the amendments, we also apologise to Hon Gonese. The website version of the bulletin will be corrected.
Shop Licences Amendment Bill - the PLC’s Adverse Report
On 26th September Hon Samukange moved for the adoption of the PLC’s adverse report on this Bill. Debate was not concluded, so it will continue next week. The adverse report is available on the Veritas website [link], as is the Bill [link].
No other Bills dealt with
Other Bills awaiting attention were not dealt with during the week. They are all listed on the Order Paper for Tuesday 3rd October:
Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [link] – for the beginning of the Second Reading stage with an introductory explanation of the Bill by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development.
Insolvency Bill [link] – also for the beginning of the Second Reading stage, with an introductory explanation of the Bill by Vice-President Mnangagwa in his capacity as Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Land Commission Bill [link] The House must consider whether to accept amendments made by the Senate. After a long delay, the Senate overrode an adverse PLC report on those amendments to the Bill and passed the amended Bill. The amended Bill was sent back to the National Assembly for approval on 19th July, but had not been dealt with by the end of the session.
Estate Administrators Amendment Bill [link] This Bill awaits its Committee Stage, as it has since early June.
Bills under consideration by the PLC
Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill [link] This Bill was referred to the PLC on 20th September, after its First Reading in the House.
PLC Adverse Report on Police (Association) Regulations
On Tuesday Hon Samukange introduced the PLC’s adverse report on these regulations, which were gazetted in June in SI 74/2017 [link]. Debate will continue. The adverse report is available on the Veritas website [link].
On Tuesday a new motion by Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga [MDC], seconded by Hon Nduna [ZANU-PF], on the abuse of young children under the guise of selling sex, was supported by MPs of all parties. It was approved the same day with no dissenting voices. The motion expresses concern that the Government’s response to reports about this abuse has been targeted at those that have exposed this evil practice, particularly members of the Katswe Sistahood. It calls for a Ministerial statement now and a full investigation and report by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, the report to be tabled in Parliament.
Ministerial Statement on Cash Shortages and Bank Charges
Yesterday’s sitting was largely taken up by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development’s statement on Cash Shortages and Bank Charges [link] and the resulting question and answer session, which ended just before 6 pm.
In the Senate This Week
As the Senate was sitting for the first time since the opening of the session, and as the National Assembly did not send any Bills to the Senate last week, Senators did not have a heavy programme.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill [link] was received from the National Assembly late on Wednesday. Its Second Reading stage is listed to start on 3rd October.
Senator Chief Charumbira, President of the Council of Chiefs, on Tuesday moved the customary motion of thanks to the President for his speech opening the session. The Vice-President of the Council, Senator Chief Mtshane, seconded the motion.