BILL WATCH 21/2022
[21st May 2022]
Parliament Sat for the First Three Weeks of May
and is Now Adjourned until Tuesday 7th June
Published in the Government Gazette 20th May 2022
Guardianship of Minors Amendment Act, 2022 (No. 2 of 2022) [link]
The amendments to the Guardianship of Minors Act made by this Act came into effect from and including the date of publication, 20th May 2022.
Two other Bills passed by Parliament were sent to the President for his assent and gazetting as Acts on the same day as the Bill for this Act, Friday 6th May – the Marriages Bill and the Pension and Provident Funds Bill – but have not been gazetted. Section 131(6) of the Constitution provides that the President must within 21 days either assent to a Bill and sign it [and then, “without delay”, have it published in the Government Gazette as an Act] or refer it back to Parliament with written reasons explaining his reservations and ask for the Bill to be reconsidered.
Medical Services Amendment Bill [link]
Not to be confused with the Health Service Amendment Bill, on which some progress was made on Tuesday 17th May [see below]. This Bill will be summarised and discussed in a separate bulletin.
New default minimum wage fixed at ZWL$ 25 000 per month
SI 101/2022 [link] amends the Labour (Specification of Minimum Wages) Notice of 1996 with immediate effect. The new minimum wage does not apply to “all employees whose remuneration is not fixed by or in terms of an agreement, determination or regulations made under the Act” – for instance, it does not apply to domestic workers, whose minimum remuneration was fixed by SI 102/2022 [see below and is much less than ZWL$ 25 000 per month].
New domestic workers wages
SI 102/2022 [link] repeals and replaces the specified wages for different grades of domestic workers that have been in force since 2020. It also specifies an accommodation and transport allowance for those domestic workers who do not reside where they work.
In the National Assembly 10th, 11th, 12th and 17th, 18th, 19th May
The Speaker attends COSAP in Nigeria
Hon Mudenda, Speaker of the National Assembly, did not preside over sittings of the House, last week. He was visiting Nigeria on official business – to attend the Inaugural Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments [COSAP] in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, from 9th to 11th May. The communiqué issued at the end of the conference is available on the Veritas website, courtesy of Parliament of Zimbabwe [link].
Official visits from Parliaments of Malawi and Zambia
Last week a delegation of MPs and officials from the Parliament of Malawi’s Business of the House Committee, led by their Speaker the Right Hon Cathrine Gotani Hara, were the guests of Parliament for a benchmarking visit.
This week it was the turn of a delegation of the Parliament of Zambia’s Committee on Transport, Works and Supply to be welcomed. The delegation joined the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development for a joint meeting with directors of contractors working on the Masvingo-Highway road in partnership between the Government and the private construction sector and the challenges being faced.
Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [link]
Developments last week [the presentation of the Portfolio Committee’s report and the start of MPs’ contributions to the Second Reading debate were the subject of a special Bill Watch 20/2022 of Friday 13th May [link].
The Second Reading debate continued on Tuesday 17th May with a lengthy contribution from Hon Gonese expressing well-reasoned opposition to the enactment of the Bill, and demonstrating that it was worse than a Non-Governmental Organisations Bill of 2004 that the Mugabe government had abandoned. Existing laws, he said, were sufficient to deal with alleged criminal conduct by PVOs without unduly restricting, like the present Bill would, the constitutional freedom of association. Hon Mliswa, the Independent MP for Norton, also expressed his opposition to the Bill, pointing out the Government’s failure to produce evidence to support its claims that the Bill is necessary. [These two speeches are available on the Veritas website [link]. ZANU PF MPs who spoke welcomed the Bill, saying “good” PVOs had nothing to fear.
Health Service Amendment Bill [link]
On Tuesday 17th May, on behalf of the Vice-President, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs delivered the Second Reading speech. Proceedings were then adjourned to permit the Portfolio Committee’s report, still in draft form, to be presented. Veritas has commented critically on the Bill [link].
Other Bills Apart from the above Bills, no progress was made on other Bills, which now appear on the Order Paper for the next sitting of the House on Tuesday 7th June.
Ministerial Statement on The State of the Economy, Rising Prices and Currency
On 12th May the Minister of Finance and Economic Development presented his Ministerial Statement [link], as he had promised MPs the week before. To some extent the statement had been pre-empted by the President’s statement broadcast on Saturday 7th May [link]. After the Minister’s statement many MPs requested clarification from the Minister on numerous points. The Minister then responded at length [link].
Committee Reports presented
Agriculture Portfolio Committee Report on “Elusive US$28.2 Million” Paid to Grain Millers for What Imports [link] On 10th May the House approved the take-note motion on the report presented by committee chair Hon Wadyajena on 4th November 2021. [Note: The recommendations in the report, which claims that it “exposes well organized syndicates that bleed the economy of our country”, include that the use of the money disbursed to the GMAZ be investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission [ZACC], the police and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and that the GMAZ chairperson be charged for contempt of Parliament for lying to the committee.]
PAC Report on COVID-19 Pandemic: Financial Management and Utilisation of Public Resources in the Country’s Provinces by Ministries, Departments and Agencies [link] This damning report was presented on 10th May by Hon Mbondiah, chairperson of the relevant PAC Sub-Committee, based on the sub-committee’s work on the Auditor-General’s report [link] on the subject. MPs then began a debate which lasted until 6.19 pm and continued on 12th May, with more contributions still to come from others – expressing concern at the extent to which corruption had been enabled by officials’ failure to adhere to the rules designed to support accountability for expenditure of funds and distribution of relief supplies from both Government and donors. They called for prosecution and other action to be taken against the culprits, amongst whom they included corrupt civil servants.
ICT Portfolio Committee’s Report on its Benchmarking Visit to Rwanda during October 2021 [link] On 19th May Hon Masango presented this report.
Primary & Secondary Education Portfolio Committee’s Report on the Inclusive Education Policy (IEP) and Better Schools Programme Zimbabwe (BSPZ) This report was also presented on 19th May, by Hon T. Moyo. The report will be available on the Veritas website as soon as we obtain it from Parliament.
Note: The Joint Report by two Portfolio Committees on Sexual Harassment in Higher and Tertiary Education Institutions, which presented on 4th May, is now available on the Veritas website [link]. It concludes that sexual harassment is rife in such institutions and suggests remedial action to be taken by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.
In the Senate 10th, 11th, 12th and 17th, 18th, 19th May
New Senator sworn in
On 12th May Chezha Chinyani was sworn in as an MDC party-list Senator, having been appointed on 6th May 2022 by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, on the nomination of the MDC party to fill the vacancy left by the death of the late Senator Phyllis Ndlovu.
Amendment of State Universities Statutes Bill [link]
The Senate dealt with all stages of this Bill on Thursday. The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development presented his Second Reading speech. Senators made a few brief contributions, all in support of the Bill, and the Bill was then read for the second time. There were no questions from Senators in the Committee Stage which followed, and the Bill was then taken through its final stages and passed. It will now be prepared for the President’s assent and gazetting in the form of an Act. [Veritas comment [link] on this Bill, among other criticisms, was that it will further restrict, the academic freedom protected by the Constitution.]
Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill [link]
This was not brought up by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Two new motions were presented. Debate on these and the other adjourned motions on the Order Paper took up most of Senators’ time during the rest of the period covered by this bulletin.
Motion calling for Government policies that address and plug loopholes related to tax evasion, illicit financial flows and corruption in the mining sector On 10th May Senator Chinake, seconded by Senator Denga, presented this motion calling on Government to craft such policies in the interests of promoting transparency and accountability in the mining sector. It was pointed out that the achievement of the target of a US$ 12 billion mining sector by 2030 was imperilled by tax evasion, illicit financial flows and corruption.
Motion urging Government to introduce schemes to redeem the national herd from devastating and destructive effects of drought
On 11th May by Senator A. Dube, seconded by Senator Chirongoma, introduced this motion. It suggests mitigatory measures such as winter cropping and drought relief programmes.