BILL WATCH 35-2019 Both Houses of Parliament Resume Sittings Today

BILL WATCH 35/2019

[16th July 2019]

Both Houses of Parliament Resume This Week

Both the Senate and the National Assembly will resume sittings this week, starting on Tuesday 16th July and continuing until Thursday 1st August. 

The Senate has been in recess since 21st June, after completing Parliament’s passage of the Consumer Protection Bill and the Microfinance Amendment Bill – see Bill Watch 31/2019 of 21st June [link].

The National Assembly started its recess a week later.  It devoted most of the time available on its three extra sitting days to business other than Bills – notably SI 142/2019 abolishing the multi-currency system; the Minister of Energy and Power Development’s Ministerial Statement on the Electricity Situation in the Country; and a condolence motion following the death of Tuesday, 18th June, 2019, of Hon. Member for Mangwe, Hon Obedingwa Mguni.  As a result, the adjournment until Tuesday 16th July came without the House having completed the passage of the two Bills carried over from the previous week.  Only minimal progress had been made on the Committee Stage of the Education Amendment Bill, and none at all on the Second Reading stage of Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency Bill.     

For our last full update on all Bills see Bill Watch 31/2019 of 21st June [link].

Since that update there have been further developments, as follows:

Bills gazetted on 5th July

Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill [link]

Freedom of Information Bill [link].

Bills being prepared for gazetting

Marriages Bill [gazetting expected this week]

Zimbabwe Media Commission [sent to Government Printer 27th June]

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment [sent to Government Printer 10th July]

Coming up in the National Assembly This Week

Bills

Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency Bill [link]

This Bill is item 1 on the Order Paper for Tuesday 16th July Paper.  As the Minister’s Second Reading speech has already been heard, the next step in the Second Reading stage will be the presentation of the Portfolio Committee’s report and recommendations following its deliberations on the Bill and input received from stakeholders and the public during the public hearings.  Contributions from individual MPs will come after that.

Education Amendment Bill [link]

The House has only just started the Committee Stage of this Bill; its continuation is item 2 on the Order Paper.  Most of the seven pages of amendments [link] proposed by the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education, Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga still have to be considered – see Bill Watch 31/2019 [link].  The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education has already told the House [when winding up the Second Reading debate on 18th June] that he will accept most of the amendments recommended by the Portfolio Committee – see Bill Watch 31/2019 of 21st June [link]

The Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill [link]

This controversial Bill had its First Reading on the 9th May and was immediately referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC].  The PLC has had an extension of the reporting deadline set by Standing Orders.  Under Standing Orders the Second Reading stage cannot start until the PLC’s report has been received.  The PLC is expected to finalise its report on the Bill at its meeting on Wednesday 17th July.

As pointed out in previous bulletins, Veritas and other legal commentators have demonstrated that the Bill is largely a repetition of POSA and expressed the opinion that aspects of the Bill would, if passed into law as they stand, be inconsistent with the Constitution [link].  An adverse report is, therefore, conceivable. 

Motions

Items 3, 4 and 5 on the Order Paper are continuation of the adjourned debates on Government motions to take note of: (3) the Judicial Service Commission’s annual report for 2018; (4) the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission’s report on the 2018 Harmonised Elections; and (5) the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s report on the same elections.  Item 6 is continuation of the long-running debate on the President’s speech at the opening of the current Parliamentary session ten months ago.

Items 7, 8 and 9 are private members’ motions that have been waiting in line for a long time (7) Hon Khumalo’s call on the Government to improve the lot of war veterans, war collaborators and ex-detainees and specifying how; (8) Hon Mushoriwa’s proposal to transfer to local authorities the collection of vehicle licence fees and toll fees currently [accruing to ZINARA] as a means of improving road maintenance in urban areas; and (9) Hon Dr Nyashanu’s call to Government to stimulate economic development with incentives for the productive sector.

Question Time [Wednesday]

Over 80 written questions with notice await Ministerial responses, some from as long ago as November 2018.  Recently added questions include one asking whether the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage is considering extending the opening period of Seventh Street/Borrowdale Road past State House in Harare, from the current 6 am to 6 pm to 6 am to 9 pm in view of the high volume of traffic using this roadway.  Another asks the same Minister what measures are being taken to curb armed robberies, car hijackings and other crimes in Mount Pleasant constituency in Harare.  The Minister of Justice is asked to consider reducing the fees charged by the Master of the High Court on deceased estates.

Tabling of NSSA Forensic Audit Report

Following his ruling before the recess – see Bill Watch 34/2019 [link] – the Speaker should be able to advise MPs when to expect the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to table this report. 

Coming Up in the Senate This Week

Bills  Senators will be waiting for Bills to be transmitted from the National Assembly. 

Motions

Item 1 on the Order Paper for 16th July is Senator Wunganayi’s call on Government to urgently allocate foreign currency to local authorities for the development of water infrastructure in towns and growth points and for purchasing water treatment chemicals.  The motion cites the constitutional right to safe, clean and potable water [Constitution, section 77(a)].  Items 2, 3 and 4 are continuing debates on take note motions on reports of Parliamentary delegations on visits and conferences involving Senators.

Adverse PLC report on Command Agriculture Regulations

This item still awaits the response, if any, of the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Climate, Water and Rural Resettlement to the PLC’s adverse report on SI 247/2018 containing these regulations.  Senators have long since expressed their views, largely supporting the PLC’s objections to the criminalisation of breaches of contract by command agriculture farmers [link], but deferred a final vote to give the Minister a chance to persuade them otherwise.  It is high time a vote was taken, with or without a contribution from the Minister – even if that vote confirms the PLC view and leads to the nullification of the offending provisions.  The regulations will still make sense without those provisions.

Question Time [Thursday]  Eleven questions with notice await Ministers.  Senator Chimbudzi’s several questions include one for the Minister of Justice to explain measures being taken to ensure gender equality in appointment of Commissioners to Independent Commissions.

Government Gazettes 5th to 12th July 2019

Regular Gazette of 5th July

Statutory Instrument [SI]

Labour Act – collective bargaining agreement – Tobacco Industry (Miscellaneous Sector)

SI 146/2019 [link] – a definition of the term “day off” to be read as one with the principal agreement in SI 85/1993.

General Notices [GNs]

GNs 1096 and 1097/2019 announced the publication with the Gazette of, respectively, the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill  [link] and the Freedom of Information Bill [link].

Gazette Extraordinary of 10th July

No statutory instruments, gazetted, only two GNs inviting competitive bidding for two tenders.

Regular Gazette of 12th July

There were no statutory instruments gazetted.

Gazette Extraordinary of 12th July

Dates for two National Assembly by-elections

SI 147/2019 [link] is a Presidential proclamation ordering a by-election in Glen View South constituency, to fill the vacancy left by the death of on Hon Vimbai Tsvangirai Java on 10th June.  Nomination day is Friday 26th July at Harare Magistrates Court, Rotten Row.

SI 147/2019 [link] is a Presidential proclamation ordering a by-election in Mangwe constituency, to fill the vacancy left by the death of HJon Obedingwa Mguni on 18th June.  Nomination day is Friday 26th July at Gwanda Magistrates Court.

In both cases polling day will be Saturday 7th September.

 

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