BILL WATCH 68/2020 - Media Commission Bill Passed

BILL WATCH 68/2020

[14th October 2020]

Both Houses of Parliament Sat from 6th to 9th October

National Assembly is Sitting This Week

Senate to sit again on 22nd October

New Members Sworn in as Replacements for MDC-A MPs Recalled by MDC-T

On Wednesday 6th October the fifteen new members of Parliament listed below were sworn in.  All are party-list/proportional representation members appointed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] by General Notice 2553/2020, published in a Government Gazette Extraordinary dated Friday 2nd October.  They replace the former members declared by the Speaker of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate, respectively, to have lost their seats following their “recall” by the MDC-T formation headed by Thokozani Khupe.  The new members were nominated by the same formation, and Mrs Khupe is one of them.  In alphabetical order, surnames first, they are:-

Senate [8]:  Chisorochengwe, Teti; Denga, Piniel; Khumalo, Nomalanga; Moyo, Tamani; Moyo, Gertrude; Ndlovu, Chief; Ndlovu, Dorothy Molly; Phugeni, Kalpani.

National Assembly [7]:  Khupe, Thokozani; Mokone, Sipho; Moyo, Lindani; Munochinzwa, Memory; Musarurwa, Winfielda Yvonne; Sawuke, January; Sibanda, Lwazi.

[What happens if the recalled MDC Alliance parliamentarians win their court case is an unknown.]

In the National Assembly 6th to 8th & Tuesday 13th October

Bills finalised

Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill [link]

On 6th October the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs withdrew the proposed new clause 28 dealing with self-regulation of media practitioners, which MPs had complained did not go far enough.  His explanation was that Government would bring a separate Bill on the subject.  The Committee Stage was then completed without further amendments being added to those already made, and the amended Bill was referred back to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] for a report on the amendments.  The expected non-adverse report was announced on Thursday 8th October.

Yesterday, 13th October, the National Assembly duly passed the Bill, as amended, and sent it to the Senate.  Parliament will not, therefore, complete work on the Bill before the Senate meets next.  It is scheduled to meet again on the 22nd October. 

Forest Amendment Bill [link]

The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs delivered the Second Reading speech explaining the Bill on Wednesday 7th October.  There was no further progress because there was no Portfolio Committee representative in attendance to present the committee’s report on the Bill.

Bills not dealt with at all [see further below]

Financial Adjustments Bill [link]

Cyber Security & Data Protection Bill [link]

Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 2) Bill [link].

Petitions received

On 6th October the Speaker announced the receipt of the following petitions and their referral to the committees specified in brackets below:

ZIPRA war veterans for the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act [Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services]
This petition seeks the amendment of the Act, very recently passed by Parliament, to cover non-combatant cadres stationed at transit centres situated outside Zambia and Mozambique.

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association [Portfolio Committees on Mines and Mining Development and Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services]  This petition seeks a Parliamentary inquiry into violence and anarchy perpetrated by machete gangs disrupting the sustainability and livelihoods of artisanal and small-scale miners.

Petition on Matabeleland Independence Rejected

Also announced was the rejection as inadmissible of a petition from a Gwanda resident seeking a Bill according Matabeleland the status of an  independent territory.

Annual Reports of Zimbabwe Gender Commission 2015 – 2019

On 8th October the House, after justified protests about the way the Constitution had been ignored, reluctantly granted Minister responsible for women’s affairs, Hon Nyoni, condonation for the inordinate delays in presenting the above five annual reports of the Gender Commission.  In terms of section 323 of the Constitution, the Commission should have submitted its annual reports to Parliament, through the Minister, before the end March of the year following each year reported on.  On 13th October the Minister’s take-note motion on the reports was approved.

Motion on Domestication of the UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities

Most of the sitting on Thursday 8th October was taken up by the presentation of Hon Josiah Sithole’s motion calling for action from the Government, particularly the Ministers of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and Primary and Second Education, to align the present legislation on persons with disabilities with the UN Convention and with the Constitution.

SADC Protocol on Trade in Services

This agreement was signed by Zimbabwe in August 2013.  It is part of the progressive adoption of policies and implementation of measures required of Zimbabwe and other SADC member States under the World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services.  The motion for its approval was moved on 13th October by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and immediately approved.

Motion on  Empowerment of Youths

Hon Mavetera presented her motion calling for the empowerment of youth by among other measures passing legislation to allocate 25% of “decision making” to youth by the end of 2022.   Her powerful speech was followed by lengthy contributions from Hon B. Dube, Hon Togarepi and Hon Nduna until the adjournment at the unusually later hour of 6.54 pm.

In the Senate Tuesday 6th to Thursday 8th October

We have already referred to the swearing-in of new Senators that took place on Wednesday 7th October [see the beginning of this bulletin]

No progress on Bills

For the third week running Senators were not called on by the Government to deal with either of the two Bills on the Order Paper:

  • Marriages Bill
  • Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill.

Other business

Senators had a relatively relaxed week and managed to complete most items of unfinished business, including adopting the following motions in anticipation of the imminent end of the session:

  • Motion of thanks to the President responding to his speech at the beginning of the session on 1st October 2019;
  • Take-note motion on Report of the 46th Plenary Assembly of the SADC Parliamentary Forum;
  • Take-note motion on Annual Report of the Liaison and Co-ordination Committee;
  • Take-note motion on Thematic Committee report on Domestication of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • Take-note motion on Thematic Committee report on Access to Clean, Safe and Portable [sic] Water;
  • Motion calling for Government action to deal with the challenges faced by youths discharged from Child Care Facilities at the age of 18.

Business left unfinished

Apart from the two Bills noted above, the only items of business left unfinished when the Senate adjourned were the take-note motions on the Annual Reports of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission for 2018 and 2019.

Coming up in the National Assembly 14th and 15th October

Bills

Bills are next on the agenda, in the following order:

Forest Amendment Bill [link]

The House awaits presentation of the Portfolio Committee’s report on the Bill.  

Note: Bill Watch 67/2020 of 12th October [link] set out Veritas’ view that neither of the following two Bills should be rushed through the House.

Cyber Security & Data Protection Bill [link]

The Bill is ready for the start of the Committee Stage.  Amendments have been tabled by the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on ICT and are available on the Veritas website [link].  They are to give effect to the combined recommendations of that committee and the Senate Thematic Committee on Peace and Security in their report on public reaction to the Bill [link].  Two excellent commentaries on the Bill are available on the Veritas website [link] and [link]

Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 2) Bill [link]

See Bill Watch 67/2020 [link].

International Agreements for approval in terms of section 327 of Constitution

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has two agreements on the Order Paper for Thursday 15th October:

  • Convention relating to International Exhibitions
  • Agreement Establishing a Tripartite Free Trade Area among the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa [COMESA], the East African Community and SADC, which was signed on behalf of Zimbabwe on 10th June 2018.

Other business

There are many uncompleted items still listed on the Order Paper.  For instance, Hon Sacco must want to wind up the debate on his motion of thanks to the President for his speech at the beginning of the present Parliamentary session – even though Ministers have not, so far, replied to points made by MPs who have contributed to the debate.  It would be unprecedented for the session to end without a vote on the motion.

 

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