BILL WATCH 45/2017
[4th December 2017]
Both Houses of Parliament Will be Sitting This Week
The 2018 National Budget will be Presented on Thursday 7th December
Cabinet Sworn In
21 Cabinet Ministers, 11 Ministers of State [10 of them Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs in each of the country’s ten provinces] and 2 Deputy Ministers were sworn in at State House this morning, 4th December 2017, by President Mnangagwa. This was a constitutional precondition to their taking up their appointments; section 104(6) of the Constitution provides: “Before taking office, a person appointed as Minister or Deputy Minister must take before the President the appropriate Ministerial oath in the form set out in the Third Schedule.”
Bill Watch 44/2017 [link] provided details of the Ministerial line-up.
In Parliament Last Week [28th to 30th November]
New National Assembly vacancies following expulsions from ZANU-PF
On 28th November the Speaker informed the National Assembly that the vacancies had arisen in the following five constituencies in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution, effective 27th November [the date of his receipt from ZANU-PF of written notice that the MPs concerned had ceased to belong to the party]:
Manditawepi Chimene [Makoni South]
Kudzanai Chipanga [Makoni West]
Jonathan Moyo [Tsholotsho North]
Ignatius Chombo [Zvimba North]
Savior Kasukuwere [Mount Darwin South].
No by-elections necessary There are now fewer than nine months to the 2018 General Election. Section 158(3) of the Constitution provides that in this event “the vacancies may remain unfilled until the General Election.”
No Government business
For the second week running, no Government business could be conducted and Question Time was stood over in both Houses. This was because President Mnangagwa – who assumed office on Friday 24th – had not yet made his Ministerial appointments. The hiatus in Government business was filled by the presentation of reports by Portfolio Committees and Thematic Committees [see list below].
Constituency Development Fund documents
On 29th November, in both Houses, the presiding officers announced that copies of the Constituency Development Fund Constitution, the Accounting Officer’s Instructions and the Operational Modalities had been placed in members’ pigeon holes for their information.
In the National Assembly
Presentation of Portfolio Committee reports
· Report of the Transport and Infrastructural Development committee in its Inquiry into the Turnaround Strategy for the National Railways of Zimbabwe [NRZ]
· Report of the Transport and Infrastructural Development committee on its Inquiry into the Turnaround Strategy for the Central Mechanical Equipment Department [CMED]
· Report of the Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development committee on the Women Development Fund Projects
· Report of the Lands, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development committee on Agricultural Colleges and Command Agriculture.
These will be posted on the Veritas website www.veritaszim.net by 6th December.
In the Senate
Presentation of Thematic Committee reports
· Report on the Seventh Retreat of the Association of Senates, Shoora and equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab World [ASSECAA] held from the 26th to 27th November 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
· Report on the Seventh Retreat of the Association of Senates, Shoora and equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab World [ASSECAA] held from the 20th to 21st May 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Coming up in Parliament This Week
The main event of the Parliamentary week will be the presentation on Thursday afternoon of the National Budget for next year by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Hon Chinamasa.
Whether other Ministers of the new Cabinet are ready to tackle the Government business agenda on Tuesday and Question Time on Wednesday remains to be seen.
Land Commission Bill A Government motion seeks to put an end to the disagreement between the National Assembly and the Senate over the Senate’s amendments to the Bill, which were rejected by the National Assembly when the Bill was returned from the Senate. The motion asks for a resolution that “the Bill be presented to His Excellency, the President for assent and signature in the form in which it was passed by the National Assembly on 26th January, 2017 in accordance with the provisions of the Fifth Schedule, paragraph 6 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.” – that is, without the amendments later made by the Senate. This is the first time the two Houses have failed to agree on a Bill during the present Parliament.
Estate Administrators Amendment Bill [link] – for Committee Stage. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has tabled an amendment be wishes to be made – to include a new clause that will add two items to the list of examples of “improper or disgraceful conduct” for which registered estate administrators may be struck off the register or otherwise disciplined by the Council of Estate Administrators [Estate Administrators Act, section 54]. The new items are demanding sexual favours from a client, employee or prospective employee and engaging in “unwelcome sexually-determined behaviour” (examples of which are given) towards any client or employee; the full text of the amendment is on the Veritas website [link].
International agreements for approval
There are also Government motions seeking approval of three international agreements in terms of section 327(2) of the Constitution:
· Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled [This treaty forms part of the body of international copyright treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation [WIPO]. Its main goal is to create a set of mandatory limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the, visually impaired, and otherwise print disabled persons (VIPs)].
· SADC Protocol on Employment and Labour [link]
· PO29, Protocol of 2014 to the International Labour Organisation’s Forced Labour Convention, 1930 [link].
Debate on proposed approval of amendment to World Trade Organisation agreement For continuation of debate on the Minister of Industry and Commerce’s motion for the approval of the Protocol to insert a new Trade Facilitation Agreement [TFA] into Annex 1A of the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation, of which Zimbabwe has been a member since 1995. The new TFA was negotiated at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013.
Question Time [Wednesday]
If any Ministers are ready, there are 47 questions awaiting answers.
Bills No Bills have reached the Senate.
Motions There is one new motion on the Order Paper. It calls on the Government to to expeditiously resolve the issue of providing arable land to sixty-two households from Zwehamba, Mahatshe and Matankeni areas in the Matobo District so that they can resume their farming activities unperturbed so as to live a prosperous and stable life premised on peace and stability. The households were evicted to make way for national developmental projects.
Question Time [Thursday] This will be stood over to allow Senators to follow the Budget presentation.