BILL WATCH 50/2021
[20th July 2021]
Update on National Assembly 29th June to 1st July
and Senate on 6th July
In the National Assembly from 29th June to 1st July 2021
Note: Documents marked ** will be available on the Veritas website as soon as we have reliable soft copies.
The Committee Stages of both the Forest Amendment Bill and the Cyber Security & Data Protection Bill were completed during the week, as detailed below.
Swearing-in of new ZANU PF MP
Hon Metrine MUDAU was sworn in as a party-list MP representing ZANU PF. ZEC appointed Hon Mudau anmember of the House with effect from 4th June 2021, in terms of section 39 of the Electoral Act, on the nomination of the ZANU PF party: see GN 1108/2021 [link]. She will occupy the Masvingo Province party list seat left vacant by the death of Hon Lisa SINGO on 4th February 2021.
Committee on Standing Rules and Orders: Change of membership
On 30th June the Speaker announced that, following the resignation of Hon Innocent Gonese from this committee, the MDC-T party’s nominee to replace him – Hon Muchineripi CHINYANGANYA – had been appointed a member of the committee.
Ministerial Statements by Vice-President Chiwenga
On 30th June Vice-President Chiwenga, in his capacity as Vice-President responsible for the Ministry of Health and Child Care, presented the following statements:
On Maternity User Fees and Maternity Mortality **
This was presented in response to points raised by Hon Dr Khupe earlier in the month.
On Age of Consent to Accessing Reproductive Health Care Services by Adolescents and Young Persons in Zimbabwe **
This topic had been raised in the Joint Report of the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care and the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS presented to the National Assembly on 3rd June [link]. The Report had recommended a favourable response to a petition submitted to Parliament by the Advocacy Core Team (ACT) asking for changes to present policy requiring parental consent for access by adolescents and young people to reproductive health care services. The Ministry’s detailed Position Paper ends with a recommendation that section 70(3) of the Criminal Law Code – and all other statutory provisions mentioned in the paper as dealing with the age of consent– be amended to bring them into line with the Constitution, especially section 81 on Rights of children.
Response to Report of Portfolio Committee on Development and Promotion of Traditional And Complementary Medicines in Zimbabwe **
This was the Ministry’s detailed and informative response to the report of the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care presented to an enthusiastic House on 6th May; see Bill Watch 29/2021 of 8th May [link]. In his response the Vice-President said many of the committee’s recommendations were already included in the National Health Strategy and implementation would, as always, depend on the availability of adequate resources.
Auditor-General’s Report tabled
Auditor-General’s Value for Money Report on Protection of Wetlands by the Environmental Management Agency [EMA] **
This report was tabled on Thursday 1st July by the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality . The report will be available on our website soon.
Condolence motions: late Hon Alum Mpofu MP and late Hon Joel Biggie Matiza These motions were fully debated previously. On 29th June the movers, Hon Togarepi and Hon Mavetera respectively, briefly wound up the debates, and both motions were approved.
Public Accounts Committee report on ZINARA Accounts On 29th June the debate on the take-note motion on the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA)’s audited accounts for the 2017 and 2018 financials years and the 2017 Forensic Audit Report was wound up by Hon Brian Dube, the PAC chairperson. He thanked MPs for their comprehensive contributions to the debate and the motion was approved. See Veritas’ comment on the ZINARA’s audited accounts in Economic Governance Watch [link]
Condolence motion - late President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia On 1st July Hon Mliswa, seconded by Hon Dr Mashakada, moved a motion, which was approved, expressing the House’s profound sorrow on the death on 17th June of the late Dr Kaunda, recording appreciation of his services to Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole and conveying sympathies to the Kaunda family and the Zambian people.
Joint Committees Report on 2021 Post-Budget Feedback Meetings ** On 29th June Hon Dr Nyashanu presented the joint report of the Committees on Budget, Finance and Economic Development and Expanded Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the feedback meetings conducted from 26th to 30th April to update citizens on how their contributions to the pre-2021 Budget Consultations had been considered in the formulation of the final 2021 Budget. The feedback meetings were a response to an outcry from stakeholders and members of the public who complained that their contributions had not been taken on board in the Budget; they were therefore mainly held in places where the original pre-Budget consultation meetings had been held. Among the report’s observations was that NGOs seemed to have very little interest in the feedback meetings; that Parliaments’ Citizens’ Budget ** document had proved useful to members of the public; that the meetings had not been preceded by the necessary publicity, resulting in poor attendance; and that all MPs should acquaint themselves with key and approved projects in their constituencies to enable them to follow up on budget issues and report back to their constituents. Many MPs contributed enthusiastically to the a debate that followed, and debate will continue.
Important Document now Available on Veritas Website
The 2020 Annual Report of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission is now available on our website [link]. It has been referred to in recent Bill Watches as the subject of a take-note motion in the National Assembly by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Committee Stages of Two Bills Completed
Both Bill Referred to Parliamentary Legal Committee
As noted at the start of this bulletin, the Committee Stages of the following Bills were completed on Thursday 1st July and the Bills were referred to the PLC for its reports on their consistency or otherwise with the Constitution. Assuming that the reports will be non-adverse, all that will remain to be done with both Bills will be for the House to confirm its adoption of the amendments and give the Bills their Third Readings, after which they will be transmitted to the Senate for its consideration.
If that happens, it is it is to be hoped that Parliament will provide Senators with clean copies of both Bills incorporating all the amendments and renumbering the clauses. Otherwise Senators will be faced with the extremely difficult task of making sense of the two documents in the case of each Bill – the original Bill and the bulky amendments – and where fit into the original Bill.
Forest Amendment Bill [link]
At the Committee Stage of this Bill, a number of amendments were made, including the insertion of new clauses and the amendment of others. When the Committee Stage ended, the Bill had grown from its original 16 clauses to 24 clauses.
The amendments were mainly minor, in the interests of administration or correcting now outdated expressions: Forestry Commission members will now have a renewable term of office of three years, not four years; the chief executive officer will now have the title of “Director-General”; decisions on fireguards on common boundaries will now be decided at designated forest officer level, with quick appeals to the forest officer in charge of a province and then to the Director-General. A new section 75A is inserted dealing with appeals against decisions of the Commission to the Minister and then to the Administrative Court; an entirely new clause inserts a new section in the Forest Act headed Guiding principles, although it is not stated what purpose the long list of worthy principles are intended to serve in interpreting or implementing the Act.
Mandatory penalties The original clause 11, dealing with penalties for major offences [causing fires], is replaced. The new clause provides for mandatory minimum sentences of a level 10 fine [ZWL$ 140,000.00] or imprisonment of not less than 5 years, or both, for cases in which damage has been wilfully caused. Comment: These mandatory sentences are undesirable in principle as they totally remove all judicial discretion and are probably unconstitutional.
Cyber Security & Data Protection Bill [link]
The Bill was piloted through the Committee Stage by Hon Dr Jenfan Muswere, Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services; it emerged substantially changed and very different from the original Bill. Swift progress was made, because unfortunately there was a lack of calls for explanation and no opposition on the part of MPs.
One aspect of the amendments suggested by the Minister was to change the Bill’s short title [clause 1] to “Cyber and Data Protection Bill” [the Minister confessed to changing his mind about his original amendment which would have shortened it to “Data Protection Bill”].
Otherwise, all of the amendments to the original Bill, whether suggested by the Minister or the Portfolio Committee on ICT, Postal and Courier Services seem to have been accepted without demur. They include a new Part XXA of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act containing special provisions relating to cyber crime; search and seizure; expedited preservation of traffic data by order of court; obligations and immunity of service providers; and the jurisdiction of Zimbabwean courts to try offences having extra-territorial elements; admissibility of electronic evidence; and forfeiture of assets on conviction of offences. Comment: Although all these offences are lumped under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, some are probably offences under other legislation. This should be clarified.
The amendments also include amendments to the Interception of Communications Act to establish a unit in the Office of the President to be called the Cyber Security and Monitoring of Interceptions Centre as the sole facility through which authorised interceptions shall be effected; and a Cybersecurity Committee to advise the Minister responsible for the Act on whether or not he should grant an application for a warrant to issue warrant for the interception of communications.
Those not prepared to wait for Parliament’s fair copy of the Bill incorporating the many pages of amendments are welcome to try their luck with the Votes and Proceedings of the National Assembly reflecting the proceedings during the Committee Stage [link]
In the Senate on 6th July 2021
The Senate, which was due to meet last week from 6th to 8th July, eventually met for only ten minutes on Tuesday 6th before adjourning until Tuesday 20th July in compliance to the new restraints imposed by the Government following the President’s address to the nation regarding the latest surge in COVID-19 pandemic cases and deaths.
Swearing-in of new MDC-T Senator
The only item of business conducted during this brief sitting was to swear in a new party-list Senator representing MDC-T, Hon Edith BAIPAI. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] appointed Hon Baipai a Senator with effect from 11th June 2021, in terms of section 39 of the Electoral Act, on the nomination of the MDC-T party: see GN 1178/2021 [link]. She will occupy the Manicaland Province party list seat left vacant by the death of Hon Christine RAMBANEPASI on 3rd January 2021.