BILL WATCH 41/2021
[21st June 2021]
The National Assembly is in Recess until Tuesday 29th June
The Senate is in Recess until Tuesday 6th July
Parliament will not be sitting this week, because at the end of last week’s sittings on Thursday 17th June, both Houses adjourned for short breaks, as follows:
· the National Assembly until Tuesday 29th June; and
· the Senate until Tuesday 6th July.
This bulletin lists the business conducted in both Houses during last week’s sittings. As there was no progress at all on the several Bills that were awaiting attention, the usual notes on pending Bills have been omitted and will included in a bulletin in advance of the resumption of sittings.
In the National Assembly Tuesday 15th to Thursday 17th June
Tuesday 15th June
Petitions received and referred to Portfolio Committees
The Speaker announced that petitions had been received, found to be admissible and referred to the appropriate portfolio committees for consideration:
By War Collaborators Association This petition calls for the amendment of the recent Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act [link] [Referred to the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services.]
By Matabeleland Institution of Human Rights This petition calls for the enactment of a national policy on E-Waste Management. [Referred to the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.]
By Zimbabwe Railways Pensioners Association This petition calls for the speedy enactment of legislation guaranteeing a comfortable life for pensioners and giving effect to the recommendations of the Justice Smith Commission. Note: The Pension and Provident Funds Bill [link] – currently under undergoing its Second Reading debate in the National Assembly – will give effect to some of the Commission’s recommendations.
New motion on Press Freedom
Hon Mokone, second by Hon Shamu, moved a motion calling for the celebration of World Press Freedom Day [3rd May] in which the call for recognition of the importance of press freedom is tempered by a call to “the members of the press to use their freedom to report objectively and to foster a culture of unity and harmony among our citizens so that everlasting peace can always prevail”. Both mover and seconder made lengthy and informative speeches. Hon Shamu said: “The powers of donor and donor funded NGOs over African media associations and even trade unions are a cause for concern. Our media should carry an agenda of our own philosophy and development trajectory. We decry a media whose agenda is shaped by donors and other agencies. Our media should speak to our own issues as we see them. An independent media does not take direction from any corner. This independence is what the media and the declaration are all about. Media independence is the cornerstone of democracy.” Contributing to the debate, Hon Brian Dube called for an end to the delay in licensing Nkabazwe Community Radio Station in Gweru together with many other community radio stations in the various districts and provinces. Hon Nduna hoped that, once in its new home, Parliament would have its own radio station, exclusively dedicated to informing people everywhere in Zimbabwe about Parliamentary activities.
Continuing debate on motion on supporting the informal sector There were several contributions to this ongoing debate on Hon Chingosho’s motion. Hon Mushoriwa advocated an end to the current “war on the informal sector” involving demolition of tuckshops and the like.
Wednesday 16th June
Tabling of five Auditor-General’s Reports for Financial Year 2019
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development – on the last day allowed by the statutory deadline set by the Audit Office Act – tabled the following reports for the financial year 2019 submitted to him by the Auditor-General [all of which are downloadable from the Veritas website at the links indicated]:
(i) Local Authorities [link]
(ii) Appropriation Accounts, Finance and Revenue Statements and Fund Accounts [link]
(iii) Revenue and Finance Statements and Fund Accounts in Arrears [link]
(iv) State Enterprises and Parastatals [link]
(v) Annual Performance Report of the Auditor-General [link]
Removal of old motions from the Order Paper The Speaker reminded MPs about Standing Order 107(3) which requires that the removal of motions from the Order Paper which have been there for 21 days; he urged MPs to ensure that their motions do not exceed this time-limit, warning that the administration of Parliament would be enforcing the Standing Order from now on. In answer to a protest from Hon Mushoriwa about removal without individual prior warning, the Speaker pointed out that an MP who was disappointed by a motion’s removal could always move for it to be reinstated in the following session.
Question Time was marred by an incident when Hon Mliswa interjected with an accusation of indulgence in witchcraft against Hon Ziyambi, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business, when he rose to answer a question from another MP. When Hon Mliswa refused to withdraw the accusation and also refused to accept the Deputy Speaker’s ruling that he was using the wrong platform for his accusation, the Deputy Speaker ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms to removed him from the chamber. Hon Ziyambi demanded an investigation into Hon Mliswa’s “unbecoming conduct” and the Deputy Speaker promised a ruling the next day.
Thursday 17th June
Hon Mliswa’s apology
At the beginning of proceedings Hon Mliswa apologised for his conduct the previous day. The Deputy Speaker’s ruling on the conduct was not delivered.
Committee Report on ZIPRA War Veterans petition to amend Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Act
The Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs delivered a comprehensive response to the petition and the report, explaining in great detail why some of the changes to the Act were acceptable to Government and some were not. The report was then adopted.
Committee Report on Women and Land Zimbabwe’s Petition on Farmer-Miner Disputes
Hon Mkaratigwa presented this report by the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development, which he chairs. The report’s conclusion states that that many serious challenges are faced by farmers specifically women in areas where both farming and mining are practised; that if these challenges are left unchecked and unaddressed, the communities will be destroyed in terms of food security, environment and even loss of water due to siltation; and that the Government must intervene and address these challenges.
Motion on the right to basic state funded education
Hon Josiah Sithole wound up his motion calling for increased funding for education to enable the abolition of composite classes in primary schools, thanking fellow MPs for their support for the motion. The motion was then adopted.
In the Senate 15th to 17th June
Tuesday 15th June
Take-note motion on SADC Parliamentary Forum meeting report
Senator Mohadi presented the report of Parliament’s delegation, led by the Speaker Hon Mudenda, to the virtual 48th Plenary Meeting of the SADC Parliamentary Forum. The report’s recommendations including one that Parliament should support the Plenary Meeting’s call for a SADC response to the situation in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique.
Wednesday 16th June
Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Nyambuya, announced that any Senators wishing to join this Caucus should submit their names to the Secretary of the Caucus Steering Committee in the Journals Office.
Continuation of adjourned debates
The remainder of the afternoon’s sitting was taken up in further contributions to motions previously introduced, including Senator Femai’s motion on football and Senator Tongogara’s on support to be provided for SADC initiative on liberation war history modules.
Thursday 17th June
Question Time As most Ministers were not present, the Leader of Government Business in the Senate [Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services] was called on to answer many of the questions on Government policy, even those that did not concern her Ministry. Questioned about Government’s preparedness to deal with the current rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths, Hon Mutsvangwa listed the upgrading of hospitals and clinics, and special lockdowns for particular areas, warned against complacency about not wearing masks nor observing social distancing and not moving around unnecessarily, and stressed that Senators should be urging people to get vaccinated; she dismissed as fake news social media messages saying people suffering from diabetes and hypertension should not be vaccinated, and said they should be.
Presentation of Report on Access to Reproductive Health Care by Adolescents and Young Persons This joint report by the Thematic Committee on HIV & AIDS and the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care – which is already under debate in the National Assembly – was presented by Senator Kambizi, seconded by Hon Femai, after Question Time. The adjournment to Tuesday 6th July followed.