BILL WATCH 44/2012
[25th September 2012]
Both Houses stand adjourned until Tuesday 9th October
No Date Yet for Ceremonial Opening of Next Parliamentary Session
There is still no news about an opening date for the new session of Parliament. Leaving the opening so late means that Parliament will not have much time to deal with business – including the Budget, and perhaps the debate on the draft of the new constitution – before the end of the year.
Important Acts Still NOT Gazetted
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill and the Electoral Amendment Bill have still not been gazetted as Acts. The HRC Bill was held up by the discovery of errors in the copy prepared for the President’s signature. Parliament submitted a corrected copy on 17th September. Parliament were unable to explain reason for the delay on the Electoral Amendment Bill.
Three Other Acts of 2012 Gazetted
Three Acts were gazetted in a Gazette Extraordinary late on Monday 17th September:
- Older Persons Act – No 1/2012 [not yet in force – date of commencement to be fixed by the President by statutory instrument in due course]
- Finance Act – No 4/2012 [into force 17th September 2012]
- Appropriation (2012) Amendment Act – No 5/2012 [into force 17th September 2012]
Bills Ready for Presentation when Parliament Reopens
The Status of Bills list [see below] shows that two Bills from the Minister of Finance will be ready for presentation when Parliament eventually gets down to work again once the President opens the new Session:
- Securities Amendment Bill [brief outline in Bill Watch 39/2012 of 20th August] [available from firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Microfinance Bill [brief outline in Bill Watch 41/2012 of 3rd September].
Both Bills were gazetted several weeks ago which means they can be given their First Readings as soon Parliament meets. After that they will be referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for a report on their constitutionality. Meanwhile they will also have to be examined by the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion as soon as it reassembles, which may hold public hearings on the Bills.
Veritas will notify dates where public input will be invited by the committee. But there is no reason why interested parties should not prepare and submit inputs to the Committee Clerk now. These inputs and suggested amendments will be considered by the committee when they prepare a report on the Bill to be presented to the House of Assembly when the Bill comes up for its Second Reading, and often these reports result in changes being made to Bills. Legal opinions on the constitutionality of either Bill may be submitted for the attention of the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
New Vacancy in the Senate
MDC-T Senator Josiah Rimbi died in Mutare on 24th September. As his was a constituency seat – Chipinge - this brings up the total number of Parliamentary by-elections waiting to be held from 26 to 27 [in the Senate from 10 to 11]. It also reduces the MDC-T’s current voting strength in the Senate from 23 to 22 [made up of 3 appointed Senators and 19 elected constituency Senators]. MDC has 8 Senators and ZANU-PF 38. There are 16 Senator Chiefs.
Note: The late Senator Mudzingwa’s appointed Senate seat has been vacant since April; the MDC-T has so far not nominated a replacement for formal appointment by the President in terms of GPA Article 20.1.10.
Inclusive Government Problems
President Fails to Swear in Deputy Minister
The MDC-T post of Deputy Minister of Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development has been vacant since the death of Senator Tichaona Mudzingwa on 10th April 2012. Under Article 20.1.10 the GPA in Schedule 8 to the Constitution the vacancy should be filled by an MDC-T nominee, formally appointed and sworn in by the President. The Prime Minister forwarded MDC-T’s nomination of Senator Morgen Komichi, MDC-T National Vice-Chairperson, to the President in June, but the President has not yet sworn in Senator Komichi.
No National Security Council Meetings since May
The Zimbabwe National Security Council Act states that the President, in consultation with the Prime Minister, must call meetings of the National Security Council at least once in each calendar month. The Council has not met since May.
Media Commission Forms Media Council
On 13th September, the Zimbabwe Media Commission [ZMC] announced the appointment of the first members of the Media Council in terms of section 42A of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [AIPPA]. Hitherto totally unimplemented, this provision has been on the statute book since January 2008.
Under AIPPA, the main functions of the Council, which is essentially a 13-member ZMC committee, are:
- first, to assist the ZMC to formulate a code of conduct and ethics for journalists and mass media services
- then to assist the ZMC to implement and enforce that code, by recommending penalties to be imposed by the ZMC for breaches.
It will probably take some time before the Council becomes operational in its disciplinary support role – before that happens the code of conduct and ethics must be completed and gazetted, and regulations must be gazetted by ZMC for the procedures to be followed by the Council.
The Minister of Media, Information and Publicity did little to allay fears of a future crackdown on the independent media when he said last week that he would work with the ZMC to cancel the media licences of those who denigrate the President. Independent media organisations have not participated in the setting-up of the Council; instead they have stuck to their policy of voluntary self-regulation under the aegis of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe established in 2007.
South African Court Ruling Against Zimbabwe Government
South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal, sitting in Bloemfontein, on 20th September dismissed an appeal brought by the Zimbabwe Government in an effort to stop the sale in execution of immovable properties belonging to it in South Africa – the object of the sale being the enforcement of an order for payment of legal costs made by the SADC Tribunal in favour of dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers. The court rejected all legal arguments raised on behalf of the Government – including Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s contention that the SADC Tribunal was never lawfully established. [Full judgment available in PDF from email@example.com]
Status of Bills as at 25th September 2012
[Bills available from firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise stated]
Passed Bills awaiting Presidential assent and gazetting as Acts
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill [resubmitted for assent 17th September]
Electoral Amendment Bill [submitted for assent 4th September]
The Constitution requires the President to grant or withhold his assent within 21 days of a Bill being presented to him.
Bill gazetted and awaiting presentation in Parliament
Microfinance Bill [gazetted on 31st August] [not yet available]
Securities Amendment Bill [gazetted on 10th August 2012] The Minister of Finance has given written notice of his intention to present this Bill when the House next sits.
Bills being printed
Government Gazettes of 7th to 21st September
[copies not available]
The first three Acts of 2012 were gazetted on Monday 17th September [see details at beginning of bulletin]
No Bills were gazetted
Customs duty SIs 142 and 143/2012 provide for 3- and 5-year suspensions of duty for the benefit of a few listed mining companies.
Domestic violence SI 145/2012 replaces two forms used in domestic violence proceedings – Form DV3 [Application for Protection Order] and Form DV7 [Protection Order].
Pesticides SI 144/2012 enacts a new set of Pesticides Regulations under the Fertilisers, Farm Feeds and Remedies Act, replacing regulations of 1977 and amending regulations of 1981.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied