BILL WATCH 46/2012
[9th October 2012]
Both Houses will meet today Tuesday 9th October
No Date Yet for Official Opening of Next Parliamentary Session
Both Houses of Parliament will meet again this afternoon. They adjourned until today when they last met on 4th September, thinking that the next session would begin soon. But the President has still not informed Parliament when he intends to publish a proclamation to end this session and open the next session. Usually the one session of Parliament ends at the end of July and the next session opens in August.
The House of Assembly’s agenda lists the following items:
- Securities Bill – first reading – if there is a Minister there to present the Bill, this will take only a minute or two, and the Bill will then be automatically referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for a report on its constitutionality, to be provided at a later date.
- National Incomes and Pricing Commission Bill – this was introduced in the previous session, but is still awaiting its second reading.
- Privileges Committee report on Gwaradzimba case – this will give the Committee’s findings on its investigation of alleged contempt of Parliament by Mr Gwaradzimba, administrator of Shabani Mashava Mines.
- Portfolio Committee reports for presentation or continued debate – these include the controversial report on the agreement between the Government and Essar holdings re New Zimbabwe Steel Ltd which generated much discussion when the House last sat on 4th September.
- Motions not yet fully debated carried forward from the last sitting – these include reviving a committee on government assurances to monitor Government follow-up action on recommendations by House committees; the need for public/private partnership arrangements for running the mining town of Hwange; allegations of corruption at the Reserve Bank.
The Senate’s agenda lists Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] adverse reports on statutory instruments. These reports have been presented and explained, but not fully debated They do do not require further discussion, because the PLC has agreed to withdraw them following an agreement with the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs that he will have the statutory instruments concerned amended to eliminate defects pinpointed by the PLC. [See Bill Watch 41/2012 of 3rd September for details] Unless there is an addition to the agenda, the Senate is expected to adjourn immediately after prayers and announcements, as it did in the identical situation on 4th September.
A New Vacancy in the House of Assembly
The death on 4th October of Dr Stan Mudenge, ZANU-PF MP for the Masvingo North constituency and Minister of Higher Education and Technology, created another vacancy in the House of Assembly – and the need for another by-election. ZANU-PF’s voting strength in the House of Assembly drops from 94 to 93 compared to MDC-T’s 97 and MDC’s 8. The total number of pending Parliamentary by-elections following the death of Senator Rimbi, Chipinge constituency, and now Dr Mudenge, goes up from 26 to 28 [in the House of Assembly from 16 to 17 and the Senate from 10 to 11].
ZEC Invites Applications to Provide Voter Education
With talk of March elections and by-elections featuring in media headlines, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission last week published in the press an “Invitation to Civic Society Organisations Interested in Conducting Voter Education”. The invitation “requests” interested civic society organisations to submit contact and other relevant details about themselves, their legal status, constitution, registration as PVO or trust, Board members, other members and contact persons, to ZEC headquarters by today, 9th October. It also states that “successful” organisations will be contacted as from 12th October. This ZEC request is designed to allow ZEC to make an assessment of whether interested organisations satisfy the basic legal requirements. Later, when ZEC so requires, they will be legally obliged to have their voter education programmes approved by ZEC and prove that their individual educators are Zimbabwean citizens. [see more below]
Comment: As ZEC’s words “invitation” and “requests” indicate, the deadline of 9th October is administrative, rather than a legally binding requirement. ZEC would have no legal basis for refusing to consider submissions from would-be educators after that date. But prompt submissions would obviously be likelier to receive earlier consideration than tardy ones, and organisations unable to get their papers in today would be well-advised to contact ZEC for extensions.
ZEC headquarters are at Mahachi Quantum Bilding, cnr Jason Moyo Ave and Kaguvi St, Harare for hand delivery. Details may also go to Mr Mashereni, Mr Pamire or Mr Ngurunga on landline 263-4-770340 and/or by email to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Any enquiries should be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Note: Civic society organisations are not allowed to provide voter education unless they meet stringent requirements spelled out in section 40B of the Electoral Act, as recently amended by the Electoral Amendment Act [No. 3/2012]. These requirements include: control of the organisation by Zimbabwean citizens or permanent residents; and registration as a private voluntary organisation or registration in the Deeds Registry as a trust. Doing voter education in contravention of this prohibition is a criminal offence.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act is due to be gazetted on Friday 12th October as Act No 2/2012. The President signified his assent on 2nd October. The Act will come into force immediately.
Status of Bills as at 9th October 2012
[Available from email@example.com unless otherwise stated]
Note: There are three Private Member’s Bills on the current Order Papers – the POSA Amendment Bill, the Urban Councils Amendment Bill and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill. Further consideration of these Bills is suspended pending a Supreme Court ruling in a case brought by the Minister of Local Government and Housing for an order barring Parliament from proceeding with the Urban Councils Amendment Bill. The Minister contends that as long as the GPA continues in operation, the Constitution prohibits the introduction of Private Member’s Bills. [Details and counterarguments against this contention can be found in Bill Watch 20 and 21 of 15th May 2012.]
Bill awaiting Second Reading
National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill
Bills gazetted and ready for 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 notice of his intention to present this Bill when the House next sits.
Bills being printed
Government Gazettes of 1st and 5th October 2012
No Bills were gazetted
Statutory Instruments [copies not available]
Customs duty SI 155/2012 dated 1st October increased the rate of duty on imported wheat and wheat products from 15% to 20%. SI 154 simultaneously provided for a suspension of duty on wheat flour import giving “approved importers” an effective rate of duty of 5%. The approved importers are listed in SI 154.
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