Bill Watch 08 - Both Houses of Parliament Have Adjourned to Tuesday 12th February

BILL WATCH 8/2019

[10th February 2019]

Both Houses of Parliament Have Adjourned to Tuesday 12th February

Both Houses of Parliament sat again last week.  Both enjoyed a relatively easy week.  Only one sitting lasted until after 5 pm; the others ended well before that, most of them just before or just after 4 pm.  After Thursday afternoon’s sittings both Houses adjourned until next Tuesday, 12th February. 

In the National Assembly

Petitions received

Request for National Health Service The Speaker announced receipt of a petition from the Society for Pre- and Post-Natal Services, on the need for the Ministry of Health and Child Care to implement a National Health Service.  He had referred it to the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care.

ZBC retrenchees’ grievances  This petition had been deemed inadmissible because the dispute between the retrenchees and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation was still before the courts.  

Motions   

Proposed transformation of SADC Parliamentary Forum into SADC Parliament   Hon Mguni’s speech introducing his motion calling for Zimbabwe to support the proposed transformation exercise was interrupted by the resumption of the debate on the President’s speech.  

President’s speech opening the Parliamentary session  Debate on the motion of thanks to the President resumed on Tuesday 5th February, with several MPs contributing.  

Report of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission for the Year 2017  Also resumed on Tuesday was the debate to take note of this report.  Hon Mudarikwa criticized the fact that the Commission has funding partners who do not support and will never support the Government.  To eliminate the perception that the Commission might dance to the tune of these partners, the Commission should be fully funded from public funds.

Question Time [Wednesday 6th February]

Imbalances in land ownership and redistribution of land  Asked about Government policy about redressing imbalances in land ownership, Hon Karoro, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate And Rural Resettlement, said Government wanted fairness in the distribution of land.  Once the current land audit was completed, as it was expected to be by the end of March, the Land Commission would decide on the distribution of underutilised and unused land.  Any redistribution would be done fairly:  “The redistribution is not going to look at the colour of the farmer. It is not going to look at the political inclination of an individual neither is it going to look at the religious affiliation of the farmer.  A farmer is going to be looked at as a farmer who has capacity and competence.  The essence is that we want to produce enough food for everybody as a country and surplus for export.  In short, Government is looking at ways that are non-discriminatory in terms of allocating land to those people who want land.”

Accreditation and monitoring of NGOs  Asked about Government policy on NGOs, which were described by the questioner as “extension offices for foreign governments through operations that seek to promote, amongst other things, regime change agenda”, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare replied that the PVO Act [Private Voluntary Organisations Act] “quite clearly states the mandate of NGOs” and that her Ministry was currently in the process of reviewing the PVO Act to ensure that NGOs operating in Zimbabwe comply with the Act.

Allocation of forex for fees of Zimbabwean students at foreign universities  Told that parents with children at foreign universities were not being allocated foreign exchange to meet fees owed, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education said the matter would be taken up with the Reserve Bank.

Stalled digitalisation of radio and TV  The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services said Government policy was to complete the programme as soon as resources permitted so that Zimbabweans in every corner of the country could receive national TV and radio broadcasts.

Policy on corporal punishment in schools  The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education explained that before the present Constitution of 2013 corporal punishment had been allowed in schools subject to strict controls outlined in the Ministry Circular P5, and it had been for boys only.  Now, given section 53 of the present Constitution, some education stakeholders believed corporal punishment to be prohibited by the outlawing of physical or psychological torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment and they had recommended total prohibition.  Without stating Government’s position or whether Circular P5 was still in force, the Minister concluded: “Ultimately, we would like to make our schools child friendly institutions.”

In the Senate

Motions

Importance of intercropping and growing of small grains  On 5th February Senator Tongogara introduced her motion and Senators responded enthusiastically, taking the unfinished debate to the end of the afternoon and into Wednesday’s and Thursday’s sittings. 

Siltation of dams; outbreaks of veld fires; and protection of cattle against tick-borne diseases  For the remainder of Wednesday’s sitting, Senators continued debating motions previously introduced on these three subjects, with all contributors able to share experiences from their own districts.  These debates will continue.

Question Time [Thursday 7th February]

Deployment of the army in aid of the police  Senators put repeated questions to the Deputy Minister of Defence and War Veterans about the recent and continuing deployment of soldiers in aid of the police force starting on 14th January – for instance, why armed soldiers were still present at schools, causing fear among primary school pupils at any rate.  His responses tended to be inconclusive and to take refuge in his lack of information that might perhaps, he said, be possessed by other Ministries.  When pressed by Senator Mwonzora on why the President had not, as required by section 214 of the Constitution, caused Parliament “to be informed, promptly and in appropriate detail, of the reasons” for the deployment of soldiers, he could only reply that was the prerogative of the President.  

In answer to a question about allegations thatthe armoury of the Army was raided and arms and uniforms taken”, the Deputy Minister merely said that the question had taken him by surprise and that he had no information that anything of that sort had happened.  According to the official record of Question Time, he did not say that “no armouries had been raided”, as suggested in a newspaper headline the next day.

Fencing of main roads  The Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development said the Government policy that there should  be fencing of main roads was being defeated by theft of fencing after it had been erected.  A Senator suggested that it might help if ZINARA personnel were to monitor fencing as well as road surfaces and make early reports of thefts.

Government Gazette 8th February

Statutory Instrument

Collective bargaining agreement: Workplace Policy on HIV and AIDS

SI 15/2019 [link] – sets out a comprehensive and progressive eight-page guide on the management of HIV and AIDS at the workplace in the Printing, Packaging and Newspaper Industry.  It covers not only employers and employees in the industry, but also job-seekers and applicants.  The guide recognises the right to confidentiality and privacy of persons with HIV or AIDS; prohibits compulsory screening and testing, disclosure of an employee’s HIV status without his or her consent, victimisation of or discrimination towards employees who are HIV positive or those with AIDS; and makes clear that it is not acceptable for colleagues to refuse to work with an HIV positive employee.  The guide must be provided/displayed at an accessible place so that all employees have access to it.

A note to the SI states that the guide complies with existing Zimbabwean laws regarding HIV and AIDS and the SADC Code on HIV and AIDS and Employment.

The SI will be posted on the Veritas website shortly.. 

General Notices

Postponement of  Local Authority By-elections by ZEC

GN 266/2018 [link] is a notice from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] confirming the postponement of proceedings in two local authority by-elections because it had been “not feasible” to conduct free and fair proceedings on the previously fixed days “due to unforeseen circumstances”:

Chitungwiza Ward 24

Polling will now take place on 23rd February [instead of 26th January].  The candidates nominated on 7th December remain the same.

Bulawayo Municipality Ward 28

The nomination court will now sit on Friday 22nd February [instead of 25th January] and polling, if necessary, will be on 30th March.

Now available on our website  GN 104/2018 of 1st February [mentioned in our last Bill Watch] notifying an adjustment to the specified area of a Special Economic Zone [mining claims in Mutoko] is now available [link]

 

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