BILL WATCH 3/2018
[20th February 2018]
Both Houses of Parliament are in Recess for Three Weeks
Sittings of both Houses will Resume on Tuesday 6th March
February Parliamentary Sittings
The National Assembly sat six times – on 6th, 7th, 8th and 13th, 14th and 15th February.
The Senate sat three times – on 13th, 14th and 15th February.
Progress on Bills was achieved in both Houses – see below under heading In Parliament Last Week.
Land Commission Bill Awaits Presidential Assent and Gazetting as Law
The Land Commission Bill was sent to the President’s Office on 11th January for the President’s assent and gazetting as law.
Reminder: This Bill provides a rare example of a Bill on which a disagreement between the National Assembly and the Senate was resolved by the National Assembly using its constitutional power to reject amendments made by the Senate. The Senate, agreeing with Senator Chiefs, made certain amendments that would have allowed Chiefs to play a role in the work of the Land Commission. When the Bill went back to the National Assembly the responsible Minister rejected these amendments and the National Assembly agreed with him. After the waiting period decreed by the Constitution, the National Assembly on 19th December resolved that the Bill be submitted to the President for assent and gazetting as law in the form in which it was originally passed by the National Assembly [link], i.e., without the amendments made by the Senate.
In Parliament Last Week – Further Progress on Bills
Three Bills finally passed
At the start of the week, the following three Bills received from the National Assembly were awaiting the Senate’s attention. All were passed by close of business on Thursday 15th February. The next step is for the Bills to be sent to the President for assent and gazetting as Acts.
Estates Administrators Amendment Bill [link]
The Bill went through all its stages in the Senate on 15th February and was passed without further amendment; one amendment [link] had been made by the National Assembly before it was sent to the Senate on 8th February [see Bill Watch 2/2018].
The Bill went through all its stages in the Senate on 14th February. No amendments were made by the Senate in addition to those already made by the National Assembly – which amended the Bill during its routine Committee Stage and, subsequently, when it had to be go back to a reconvened committee stage after discovery of errors in clause 37 [see Bill Watch 2/2018]. .
Appropriation (2018) Bill
The Senate also passed this Bill on 14th February. The National Assembly had passed it on 18th January [see Bill Watch 1/2018], after persuading the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to increase the votes for Parliament and the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Bills in the National Assembly
The following Bills are being dealt with:
Civil Aviation Amendment Bill [link]
The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development introduced this Bill in the National Assembly on Tuesday 13th February. The Bill was given its First Reading and immediately referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]. Meanwhile, the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development held its scheduled public hearings on the Bill in Bulawayo on 12th February and Harare on 13th February. The committee’s report on the public hearings will be presented during the Second Reading stage of the Bill, which cannot start until the Bill has been cleared by a non-adverse report from the PLC.
Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill [link]
The Committee Stage was taken on Tuesday 13th February. A number of amendments proposed by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development were approved, and the amended Bill was referred back to the PLC for the further report required by the Constitution.
Insolvency Bill [link]
On 13th February the Second Reading stage opened with an explanation of the background to and content of the Bill by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. He said that the Bill was a product of the Doing Business Reforms Agenda launched by the Government in 2015, wherein the resolution of insolvency cases was identified as one of the key factors crucial to the effective and efficient running of business enterprises. It was also noted that the current legislation governing the resolution of insolvency cases was scattered in several pieces of legislation and outdated, thereby lengthening the process of resolving such cases. The Bill therefore seeks, the Minister said, to codify into one coherent piece of legislation the insolvency laws of Zimbabwe; supplement judicial management mechanisms with other modern re-organisation processes so as to ensure timely payment of creditors; modernise the winding up provisions that were previously under the Companies Act; provide for cross-border insolvency resolutions; and provide for the regulation of Insolvency Practitioners. Debate is due to continue on 6th March.
Electoral Amendment Bill [link]
The Second Reading stage started on Thursday 15th February with a speech by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs explaining the Bill and the presentation by Hon Chasi of the report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Bill and the public hearings held by the committee. Debate is due to continue on 6th March.
The full text of this report is available on the Veritas website [link]. It makes a number of recommendations for electoral reform, which the committee says, “must all be implemented by 31st March, 2018”. These recommendations include:
“3.1. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs needs to table before Parliament a Bill with all-encompassing electoral reforms in order to make the Act compliant with the Constitution.”
“3.9. ZEC must be allowed its independence so that it has power to invite foreign observers and approve local and international observers as well. “
“3.10. There is need for amendment or outright repeal of statutes that have an inimical impact on elections such as POSA, AIPPA and the Broadcasting Services Act.”
The report ends with the following observation—
“A comprehensive approach to amending the Electoral Act would address many gaps in the electoral law and inconsistencies to the Constitution, thereby bringing voter confidence to the polls. This would also create a conducive environment for credible, free and fair elections.”
Bills under Consideration by Parliamentary Legal Committee
The following three Bills are under consideration by the PLC for submission of the committee’s reports to the National Assembly:
Public Health Bill [referred to PLC after First Reading on 11th January]
Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill [referred to PLC on 13th February for report on Committee Stage amendments – see above]
Civil Aviation Bill [referred to PLC after First Reading on 13th February – see above].
Bills Still Awaiting Attention
Shop Licences Amendment Bill [link] [awaiting resumption of consideration of an adverse report from the PLC [link]– this is listed as item 1 on the National Assembly’s Order Paper for Thursday 8th March]
Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill 2015 [link] [awaiting delivery of Second Reading speech from the Minister of Mines and Mining Development outlining the background to and content of the Bill – this is listed as item 1 on the National Assembly’s Order Paper for Tuesday 13th March]
Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Debt Assumption) Bill, 2018 [link] [awaiting First Reading, following gazetting on 19th January 2018].