Bill Watch 10-2018 - Bills Coming Up in Parliament This Week

BILL WATCH 10/2018

[8th May 2018]

Bills Coming up in Parliament This Week

Both Houses of Parliament resume sitting today, Tuesday 8th May 2018.  They face a heavy legislative programme, and the prospect of fast-tracking of Bills regarded as particularly urgent. 

Bills Coming up in the National Assembly

The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has already warned that he will be asking MPs to approve the fast-tracking of the Electoral Amendment Bill.  This request may well be extended to other Government Bills previously described by the Minister as urgent and, therefore, needing fast-tracking, such as the Insolvency Bill and the Shop Licences Amendment Bill.

In the order in which they appear on today’s Order Paper [which is not necessarily the order in which they be dealt with] the Bills for consideration are:

Insolvency Bill  - for continuation of Second Reading debate.

Shop Licences Amendment Bill[link]  – for completion of the Committee Stage, and consideration of amendments proposed by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to overcome the reservations of the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] about the Bill’s constitutionality [link].  The amendments are:

  • the removal of clause 7, which the PLC said would have contravened the constitutional autonomy of local authorities to fix licence fees without Ministerial approval];
  • the replacement of clause 8, which was unacceptable to the PLC because it would have repealed section 14 of the Shop Licences Act requiring applications for new licences to be advertised.  The new clause 8 will now leave section 14’s advertising procedure intact, but instead will repeal the closely related section 15 [which provides for objections to advertised applications to be lodged with the licensing authority and requires the authority to notify the objection to the applicant].

Comment: While this change may have satisfied the PLC as to constitutionality, one wonders whether it has been properly thought through from the practical point of view, given that section 18 of the Act will still allow objectors to participate in the hearing that precedes the granting of a new licence.

Electoral Amendment Bill [link] – for the Committee Stage.  There are some 35 pages of proposed amendments to the Bill to be considered [link].  These amendments were discussed in detail in Election Watch 7/2018 dated 6th May [link].  If, as expected, further amendments are proposed, progress on this now very urgent Bill may be further delayed. 

Civil Aviation Amendment Bill [link] – for the Committee Stage.  The Order Paper contains no amendments.

Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [link] – for the Committee Stage.  Last time this item came up in the National Assembly, Mr Mliswa [the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy] complained about the failure by the Attorney-General’s Office to provide the amendments to the Bill that had been agreed between the Portfolio Committee and the Minister of Mines and Mining Development.   As these amendments have not yet been included in the Order Paper, the prospects for progress today are not good.

Public Health Bill [link] – for continuation of the Second Reading debate.  The Minister of Health and Child Care has already explained this lengthy Bill in a remarkably brief speech.   The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care is expected to present the committee’s report on the public hearings held on the Bill.

ZISCO Debt Redemption Bill [link] – for the start of the Second Reading stage.

Bills awaiting PLC reports

As these two Bills were read for the first time and referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] on 11th April, the PLC is expected to be ready to present its reports on whether or not the Bills would, if enacted, be inconsistent with the Constitution:

  • Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill [link]
  • Companies and Other Business Entities Bill.  

Other Business Coming up in the National Assembly

Although the Order Paper is dominated by the above Bills, other items listed:

Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Conversion of Insurance and Pension Values from the Zimbabwe Dollar to the US Dollar  The take-note motion by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development is item 1 on the Order Paper.

Portfolio Committee reports  There are a few part-debated take-note motions on reports on: the operations of local commercial radio stations; remittances to the Traffic Safety Council from Third Party Insurance payments; the Petition of the Election Resource Centre on Electoral Reform.  

Coming up in the Senate

As yet there are no Bills on the Senate Order Paper.  While waiting for Bills to be transmitted from the National Assembly, Senators will have to make do with debating motions already on the Order Paper and Question Time on Thursday 10th May.

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