Bill Watch 36 - 2018 Parliament: Preparations for 2019 Budget

BILL WATCH 36/2018

[6th November 2018]

Both Houses of Parliament Have Adjourned until Tuesday 13th November

Both Houses of Parliament sat on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week.  They then adjourned until Tuesday 13th November.  

MPs will not, however, be off duty during the intervening twelve days.  All MPs will be engaged in a series of pre-Budget meetings, in preparation for the presentation later this month of the 2019 National Budget and the ensuing debate.  

Pre-Budget Activities for all Parliamentarians

Friday 2nd November – Pre-Budget Briefing Seminar

This took place at a Harare hotel.

Annual Pre-Budget Seminar from 7th to 11th November

This annual pre-Budget event will take place from Wednesday 7th to Sunday 11th November.  This year the venue is a Bulawayo hotel.  All members of Parliament are expected to attend.  

The event provides an opportunity for MPs to make an input into next year’s Budget proposals by interacting with Ministers, including the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, on budget priorities.  They will be able to make use of information and views they will have gathered in the course of the public consultations around the country conducted by portfolio committees.

Each portfolio committee has also had the advantage of hearing oral evidence from the Ministries they supervise about the funding the Ministries need to carry out their mandates.  

In his Ministerial Statement on the State of the Economy on 31st October in the National Assembly [link], the Minister of Finance and Economic Development told MPs that he will give a more detailed analysis of the state of the economy during this Seminar.

Relevant documents available on the Veritas website

2019 Pre-Budget Strategy Paper [link]

This 73-page booklet by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development [“the Treasury”] presents proposals on major policies, priorities and other interventions.  It is “meant to assist debate on broad macro-fiscal parameters of the 2019 National Budget.  The underlying projections and targets remain tentative and may be adjusted and strengthened based on arising developments and inputs from planned consultations.  Treasury, therefore, looks forward to full participation in enhancing the quality of the 2019 Budget from all stakeholders, including Line Ministries and Departments, business, academia, labour, civic organisations and the general public.”

Fiscal Measures for Reversing Fiscal Disequilibrium [link] presented by the Minister of Minister of Finance and Economic Development on 1st October.

Transitional Stabilisation Programme [TSP] [link]

This programme was presented by the Minister of Minister of Finance and Economic Development on 5th October.  It is frequently referred to in the 2019 Pre-Budget Strategy Paper, above.  An

An Abridged Version of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme is also available [link]

Other Parliamentary Activities in Bulawayo

Workshop on the Formulation of the Parliament of Zimbabwe Institutional Strategic Plan (2018-2023): 2nd to 5th November

Members of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, the Chairpersons of Committees, the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Women’s Caucus, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Legal Committee and Deputy Chief Whips were expected to attend this workshop 2nd to 5th November, 2018 at the Rainbow Hotel in Bulawayo.

Induction Workshop for Committee Chairpersons

This workshop will take place on 6th and 7th November 2018, at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Bulawayo.

Two Senate Vacancies Filled

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission gazetted a notice appointing two new Senators with effect from 2nd November 2018:

Ndabazekhaya Cain G. Mathema to fill the vacancy caused by the arranged resignation of Senator Obert Mpofu.  This appointment clears the way for Mr Mathema to be appointed and sworn in as Minister Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.  His original appointment contravened the constitutionally authorised maximum of five Ministers or Deputy Ministers from outside Parliament.

Sikhanyisiwe Mpofu to fill the vacancy caused by the death shortly after the 30th July election of Senator Thokozile Mathuthu.

As both vacancies were in ZANU PF Matabeleland North party-list seats, the new Senators were nominated to fill the vacancies in terms of section 39 of the Electoral Act.

In Parliament Last Week

Ministerial Statement on the State of the Economy

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development made a Ministerial Statement on the State of the Economy [link] in the National Assembly on 31st October and in the Senate on 1st November.  In both Houses members took full advantage of the Minister’s presence to ask for clarification of different aspects of the statement.  Senators gave the Minister a torrid time with their requests for clarifications, until the unusually late adjournment at 5.51 pm.

Senate

Motions

Debate continued on motions previously introduced.  There were no new motions.

Question Time [Thursday 1st November]

Verification of war collaborators  Asked when the Ministry would complete the verification of collaborators who participated in the war of liberation, the Deputy Minister of Defence and War Veterans replied that the Ministry was waiting for the finalisation of alignment of laws that will facilitate the vetting. 

New TV stations  The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services said she was looking forward to about 6 more television stations coming on board, to give viewers variety and ensure competition in the industry, which in turn would result in quality viewing and content.  Asked whether the new stations would be independent or under ZBC, she said that at present the Ministry is not interfering with ZBC but only giving policy guidance, leaving it to editors to ensure ZBC news is in line with the policy.  She added that it was not the duty of Government to force television stations to broadcast what Government wants, but to broadcast what the people of Zimbabwe want.

Re-sizing farms  The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Climate, Water and Rural Resettlement said his Ministry would pursue this issue, but only after the completion of the Land Audit currently being carried out by the Land Commission.

National Assembly

Companies and Other Business Entities Bill

This Bill [link] was introduced in the National Assembly on 1st November by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  It is a revised version of a previous Bill of the same name.  It received its formal First Reading and was immediately referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC].  The PLC‘s task is to report back to the National Assembly whether any provision of the Bill, if enacted in its present form, would contravene any provision of the Constitution.  This is the only Bill to appear on this Parliament’s Order Papers so far.

Reports tabled

The Auditor-General’s annual report for 2017 was tabled by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development along with related reports. 

The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs introduced a motion calling on the House to take note of the Annual Report for the year 2017 by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.

Motions

On 1st November Hon Biti introduced his motion calling for  the Government to urgently implement the Constitution’s provisions on gender equality.

Question Time [Wednesday 31st October]

After the usual time for questions without notice on policy issues, MPs agreed to do without questions with notice in order to accommodate the Ministerial Statement on the State of the Economy.

Government Gazette 2nd November 2018

Three statutory instruments [SIs] were gazetted:

Customs duty suspension

SI 238/2018 – regulations providing for a suspension of duty on the importation of live birds and specialised bird seed, with only one importer as the beneficiary.

Local authority by-laws

SI 239/2018 - Bindura Rural District Council Hawkers and Street Vendors By-laws.

SI 240/2018 - Mudzi Rural District Council Licensed Premises By-laws.  The by-laws spell out licensing requirements for 24 different types of business premises, ranging from cafes, hotels and boarding houses, to butchers, fishmongers and keepers of “equine animals”.

 

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