BILL WATCH 16/2022 - Progress on Bills 5-7 April and Bills Coming Up 12-14 April

BILL WATCH 16/2022

[10th April 2022]

Both Houses Sat Last Week & Will Sit Again This Week
Further Progress on Bills This Week is Possible

Both Houses sat from Tuesday 5th to Thursday 7th April.  Both will sit again this week, starting on Tuesday 12th April. 

This bulletin is intended to alert readers to progress made on Bills last week [5th to 7th April], particularly the completion of the Pensions and Provident Funds Bill by the Senate and the receipt of non-adverse reports from the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] on several important Bills in the National Assembly[see below].  By the end of the week the PLC had only a single Bill left to report on – the Labour Amendment Bill [link]

Also listed are the Bills on the Order Papers of both Houses for this week’s sittings from Tuesday 12th April to the adjournment on Wednesday or Thursday ahead of the Easter holiday weekend and Independence Day on Monday 18th April. 

Progress on Bills 5th to 7th April

Pension and Provident Funds Bill completed by the Senate

The Senate finally dealt with both the Committee Stage of this Bill on Thursday 7th April.  There were no amendments proposed and no debate, so Senators were able to complete work on the Bill by giving the Bill its Third Reading the same afternoon before adjourning for the weekend.  The Bill will now be prepared by Parliament and the Government Printer for submission to the President for his assent and gazetting as an Act.

Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill [link] Completed by National Assembly and Sent to Senate

On Wednesday 6th April the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] returned a non-adverse report on the Committee Stage amendments to clauses 6(1)(a) and 13 of this Bill made by the National Assembly on 10th March.  The effect of the amendments was described in Bill Watch 15/2022 [link]

On Thursday 7th April the National Assembly, without further debate, confirmed the two amendments to the Bill and finally gave the Bill its Third Reading.  The Bill was then transmitted to the Senate for consideration. 

Amendment of State Universities Statutes Bill [link]

On Tuesday 5th April the PLC returned a non-adverse report on this Bill and on Thursday 7th April the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development started the Second Reading stage by delivering his Second Reading speech explaining the objectives of the Bill.  Then the House adjourned until 12th April.

Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [link]

This Bill also received a non-adverse report from the PLC on 5th April, clearing the way for presentation of the Second Reading speech by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, perhaps this week.  In our comments on the Bill in Bill Watch 74/2021 [link] we identified a number of the Bill’s clauses as clearly unconstitutional, and several more as probably unconstitutional, so this non-adverse report comes as a disappointment.  But a non-adverse report from the PLC merely expresses its opinion and does not have the status of a court judgment, let alone a judgment of the Constitutional Court.  This means that if the Bill becomes law in anything like its present form, organisations and individuals will have the right to go to the Constitutional Court to challenge the law for inconsistencies with the Constitution.

Children’s Amendment Bill [link]

This Bill received a non-adverse report from the PLC on 5th April, clearing the way for presentation of the Second Reading speech by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, perhaps this week.

Child Justice Bill [link]

This Bill received a non-adverse report from the PLC on Wednesday 6th April, clearing the way for presentation of the Second Reading speech by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, perhaps this week.  

Bills on the National Assembly Order Paper for This Week

Bills for continuation of Second Reading debate

Copper Control Amendment Bill [link]

Police Amendment Bill [link]   A Veritas commentary is available [link].  Committee Stage amendments proposed by Hon Mayihlome, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services first appeared on the Order Paper for 5th April, in a possible indication of an intention to proceed.  The proposed amendments are available on the Veritas website [link] were summarised in Bill Watch 15/2022 [link].

Amendment of State Universities Statutes Bill [link]

On Thursday 7th April the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development started the Second Reading stage by delivering his Second Reading speech explaining the objectives of the Bill.  Then the House adjourned until 12th April.

The next step in the Second Reading stage is the presentation of the report on the Bill by the Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, which will including a report on the views of members of the public gathered by the committee from both written submissions and during the public hearings conduct by it.  As the committee is due to consider the final draft of its report on Monday 11th April, there is a possibility of further progress on the Bill during this week.

Comment: Veritas analysed the Bill in Bill Watch 3/2022 [link], in which we expressed reservations about whether it will really achieve the objectives stated in the explanatory memorandum.  Our major objection, however, is the Bill’s complete failure – notwithstanding the stated objective of constitutional alignment – to include in any of the thirteen State Universities statutes a provision giving effect to the constitutional right to academic freedom as part of freedom of expression stated in section 61 of the Constitution.  We also pointed out that tight Government control of senior University staff under the existing statutes is not reduced by the Bill, but in fact extended, thereby reducing university autonomy.  In his Second Reading speech the Minister mentioned academic freedom several times in passing, but what all the State Universities statutes need to be added to them provisions expressly affirming the fundamental importance of academic importance.

Bills for start of Second Reading Stage

Note: These Bills are listed in the order in which they appear on the National Assembly Order Paper for Tuesday 12th April, which is not necessarily the order in which the Leader of Government Business, Hon Ziyambi, will choose to deal with them.   Bills chosen will depend on various factors, including: the availability of Ministers to play their roles, the priority allocated to particular Bills by Government and whether the Portfolio Committee reports are ready for presentation, without which the Second Reading stage cannot be thrown open for debate by MPs.

Public Finance Management Amendment Bill [link]. 

Insurance Bill [link]

Insurance and Pensions Commission Amendment Bill [link] – see Veritas comments [link].

Note that the Minister has taken the unusual step of having a Notice of Amendment included on the Order Paper at this early stage.  The notice envisages the insertion of a new clause 4 providing for Delegation of functions by Commissioner (of Insurance), which will entail the renumbering of every clause from there onwards.

Health Services Amendment Bill [link] – see Veritas comments [link].  This is a Bill from the Ministry of Health and Child Care.  The public hearings on the Bills were held in mid-March.  The Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care is due to consider its draft report on Tuesday 12th April. 

The following Bills on the Order Paper for Tuesday 12th April are Bills that received non-adverse reports from the PLC last week, clearing the way for the responsible Ministers to deliver their Second Reading speeches.

Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [link]

Public hearings have already been held, and a recording of the Harare public hearing is available on the Veritas Facebook page [link].  This Bill apparently has Government high priority.  The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare has not yet presented his Second Reading speech, which must be followed by the presentation of the Portfolio Committee’s final report before the Bill can be debated by MPs.  The Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is still due to consider its draft report on the Bill on the afternoon of Monday 11th April. 

Children’s Amendment Bill [link]

This Bill received a non-adverse report from the PLC on 5th April, clearing the way for presentation of the Second Reading speech by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

Child Justice Bill [link]

This Bill received a non-adverse report from the PLC on Wednesday 6th April, clearing the way for presentation of the Second Reading speech by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  The public hearings on this Bill were held last week around Zimbabwe.

Bills Likely to Come Up in the Senate This Week

Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill [link]

This Bill was only transmitted to the Senate late on the afternoon of Thursday 7th April and does not appear on the Senate’s Order Paper for Tuesday 12th April.  As this is an important Bill, however, it is considered likely to come up this week.

Other Bills?

If the National Assembly gets a move on and completes any of the Bills on its Order Paper [see above] they may reach the Senate this week.

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