BILL WATCH 19/2022 - Parliament will Sit Again This Week

BILL WATCH 19/2022

[10th May 2022]

Both Houses Sat Last Week and Will Continue This Week

The Independent Complaints Commission Bill, having passed through the National Assembly, is now with the Senate and will probably be considered there this week.

The Amendment of State Universities Statutes Bill is also on the Senate Order paper for consideration this week.

The Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill has reached the Second Reading stage and is waiting

Both Houses sat on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week before adjourning until this week, sittings to be resumed on Tuesday 10th May.  The National Assembly’s sittings were remarkable for unusually late adjournments – 6.33 pm on Tuesday and 6.51 pm on Wednesday – but in spite of this there was little progress on the backlog of Government Bills.  There was, however, much debate in the Second Reading and Committee Stages of the Insurance and Pensions Commission Amendment Bill [see below].

At the start of Wednesday’s sittings the Speaker of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate welcomed the presence in their respective galleries of members of a delegation from the Parliament of Malawi, led by its Speaker, Right Hon. Cathrine Gotani Hara.  The delegation was paying a “benchmarking visit” to the Parliament of Zimbabwe. 

In the National Assembly This Week

Bills

Insurance and Pensions Commission Amendment Bill

On Tuesday 3rd May the Portfolio Committee’s Report [link] on the Bill and its public hearings was presented by Hon Dr Nyashanu, the committee chairperson. The report stated that the three public hearings had been poorly attended – 25 persons in all (Bulawayo 17, Mutare 1, Harare 7) – but generally the report was in favour of the Bill, as long it was passed with the amendments recommended by  the report.  MPs then made their contributions.  Among their criticisms was that the Bill had been poorly drafted and should be extended to cover the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and medical aid societies.  The Minister of Finance and Economic Development then responded to the debate and defended the Bill against much of the criticism; he did not hold out much hope that he would be accepting many changes.  

On Thursday 5th May a start was made on the Committee Stage, clause by clause.  Clauses 1 and 2 were approved, clause 2 with an amendment accepted by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development changing the definition of “independent director” (of the IPEC Board) to “independent member” for consistency with the principal Act, as requested by MPs.  Clause 3 was deferred at the request of the Minister, pending the drafting of suitable amendments by the Attorney-General’s Office.  The discussion on clause 4 was bi-partisan, with many MPs demanding that the Bill cover NSSA and medical aid societies; eventually the Minister suggested that further debate on such a major amendment be delayed.  The House then turned to other business, as described in the next paragraph. 

Institute of Chartered Loss Control and Private Security Management Bill

The House approved Hon Dr Murire’s motion seeking leave to introduce this Private Member’s Bill, MPs having previously supported the introduction of the Bill after prolonged debate.  He then introduced it and the Bill was given its First Reading and referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC ].  The Bill now features on Parliament’s Status of Bills schedule as being with the PLC, and “awaiting gazetting” having been sent to the Government Printer. 

Comment:  The First Reading and referral to the PLC may have been premature, because Standing Order 142(1) requires “every Bill to be published in the Government Gazette before it is introduced”.  Standing Order 142(5) requires that when a private member is given leave to present a Bill – as Hon Murire was on 5th May – “he or she must immediately bring a fair copy of such Bill to the Clerks-at-the-Table” [i.e., the parliamentary officials sitting in front of the Speaker’s chair].  This is obviously so that the Clerk of Parliament can have it gazetted, like any other Bill, before it may be given its First Reading and referred to the PLC.  Gazetting is also essential to allow Parliament to carry out its obligation to facilitate public involvement in its legislative processes. 

Other Bills  Apart from the above two Bills, no progress was made on other Bills, which now appear on the Order Paper for next week [see below].

In the Senate Last Week

Bills

Amendment of State Universities Statutes Bill [link]

Save for an announcement on Tuesday 3rd May that the Bill had been received from the National Assembly, this Bill was carried forward to next week, like the other Bill already on the Senate’s Order Paper.

Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill [link]

This Bill, too, was not brought up for the start of the Second Reading stage.

Bills on the National Assembly’s Order Paper for This Week

Bill for continuation of Committee Stage

Insurance and Pensions Commission Amendment Bill

The Committee Stage of this Bill was started last week but was adjourned when clause 4 was under consideration [see above].  Veritas’ comments on the Bill are available [link].  The previous debates, in both the Second Reading Stage and so far in the Committee Stage, showed that some MPs have obviously studied this Bill in detail and are likely to have many questions prepared for the Minister.  Veritas’ critical comments on the Bill are available on our website [link].

Bills for continuation of Second Reading debate

Copper Control Amendment Bill [link]   There is a Notice of Amendment on the Order Paper.  The amendment is so framed as to amend the mandatory minimum penalty in the proposed new section 10A(1) of the principal Act dealing with vandalism to essential infrastructure by theft of copper cables [set out in clause 7 of the Bill] but the suggested amendment as printed does not make sense [it refers to the deletion of words that are not present in the Bill at the place stated].      

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.  The amendments [proposed in anticipation of the Bill’s receiving its Second Reading] are already available on the Veritas website [link] and were summarised in Bill Watch 15/2022 [link].

Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [link]   The Minister’s Second Reading speech was delivered on the 12th April by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Ziyambi, who seems to have taken over the Bill from the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare – see summary in Bill Watch 17/2022 [link].   The committee report on the Bill is still has to be presented before MPs can debate it [the public hearings on the Bill were conducted by a joint committee of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and the Thematic Committee on Human Rights].  

Insurance Bill [link]   The Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development has already delivered the Second Reading speech on this Bill.  The Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development is ready with its report on the Bills and the public hearings held on it, which makes it likely that there will be progress on the Bill during this week.  

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.   

Public Finance Management Amendment Bill [link]. 

Health Service Amendment Bill [link] – see Veritas comments [link]

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 Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.  But progress is unlikely, because the public hearings on it have not yet been held; indeed, the Portfolio Committee is only due to consider the itinerary for the public hearings at its meeting on Monday 9th May. 

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 Portfolio Committee’s report on the Bills must be presented before the Bill can be debated by MPs.

Bill being considered by the PLC

Institute of Chartered Loss Control and Private Security Management Bill   As explained above, this Private Member’s Bill was given its First Reading last week and then referred to the PLC.  It has not been gazetted.  Note: A soft copy will be available on the Veritas website as soon as we obtain it from Parliament.

Bills on the Senate’s Order Paper for This Week

Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill [link]

As this is an important Bill, it is considered likely to come up this week.  The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is yet to present his Second Reading speech to Senators.

Amendment of State Universities Statutes Bill [link]

This Bill was passed by the National Assembly on 13th April and sent to the Senate.  The Second Reading speech by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development has not been delivered, but the Minister managed to get it through the National Assembly quickly, without amendment, in spite of a Portfolio Committee report calling for amendments ­– see Bill Watch 17/2022 [link].

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