BILL WATCH 50-2022 - Parliamentary Update Part 2

BILL WATCH 49/2022

[24th October 2022]

Parliamentary Update for Last Two Weeks

Part 2:  Sitting Days Tuesday 18th to Thursday 20th October

The Senate will sit again on Tuesday 25th October, despite the fact that it has no Bills to consider..

The National Assembly, however, will not sit again until Tuesday 1st November.

Two Acts Gazetted Friday 21st October 2022

Two Acts were published in the Government Gazette dated Friday 21st October 2022; Both Acts came into force on the 21st October 2022.:

Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Act [Chapter 10:34] (No. 5 of 2022)

Note: The Bill was passed by Parliament on the 16th June.  It remained some time with the Government Printer before being sent to the President for signature.  Once it got to the President it was signed promptly.  It is encouraging to have this Act in force well before elections. 

Copper Control Amendment Act, 2022 (No. 6 of 2022).

Note: The new, more severe, penalties introduced for offences by the Copper Control Amendment Act the will apply only to offences committed on or after 21st October 2022.  Section 70(1)(n) of the Constitution has this effect.

PVO Amendment Bill

Although the Consideration Stage of the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill headed the list of Bills on the National Assembly Order Paper for Tuesday 18th October, the Bill was not brought up that afternoon or during the other two sittings as the Health Service Amendment Bill was given priority as Vice President Chiwenga had made himself available for a debate on the Health Service Bill.    

Health Service Amendment Bill Given Priority

Instead, the Committee Stage of the Health Service Amendment Bill [link] – six items down the Order Paper – was granted priority status by vote of the House, on the motion of the Leader of Government Business [the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Ziyambi Ziyambi].  Debate on this Bill took up most the time allocated for Government business for the rest of the week’s sittings.  Vice-President Chiwenga – to whom responsibility for the Ministry of Health and Child Care has been allocated by President Mnangagwa was present whenever the Bill was being debated. 

Tuesday  Opposition MPs first of all took Vice-President Chiwenga to task about why the Government was persisting with the Bill when the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care had recommended its withdrawal and redrafting after proper consultation in its report [link] on the public hearings on the Bill. Also available on the Veritas website our critical analysis of the Bill in Bill Watch 2/2022 [link] which was also highly critical of the Bill.  Vice-President Chiwenga confirmed that what the Government wanted was for the Health Service Board to become a Service Commission, like the Police Service or the Defence Forces Service Commission, not an Independent Commission like the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission or the other Commissions.   

The upshot of a prolonged discussion on clause 2 [Functions of Commission] that Vice-President Chiwenga agreed that the new Commission would retain two of the functions of the former Board that had not been repeated in the Bill – to supervise and monitor health policy planning and public health and to supervise the technical performance of hospital management.  Clause 2 was amended accordingly.  A discussion of clause 3 [Membership of the Commission] then focussed on whether it the Bill’s provision for gender and regional representation adequately reflected constitutional provisions on these points but had not been completed when the House adjourned the discussion  without coming to a decision. The House then hastily dealt with other apparently more pressing business before adjourning at 5.41 pm.

Wednesday  After both segments of Question Time, the House resumed the Committee Stage and accepted the solution offered by Vice-President Chiwenga that clause 3(3) of the Bill should simply read: “In appointing members of the Commission, the President shall pay due regard to fair representation based on gender and region”, the words shown in italics replacing the previous words “sections 17 and 18 of the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe”.  Clause 4 [Secretary and other staff of Commission] was then put and agreed to without amendment.  The House then adjourned to the following day at 6.48 pm, having reached clause 5.

Thursday  The object of clause 5 was to add a new section 16A [Restriction of right to strike for Health Service] to the Health Service Act by making the Health Service an ”essential service” for the purposes of the section 65(3) of the Constitution and Labour Act, restricting “collective job action” to 72 hours in any 14-day period and requiring 48 hours’ advance notice in writing of any collective job action.  Vice-President Chiwenga eventually agreed to only one change to the clause: the reduction of the criminal penalty for individual members of the governing body of any trade union or representative body of members of the Health Service which incites or organises a collective job action in breach of the above rules.  The reduction is from a fine not exceeding level 10 or imprisonment not exceeding three years, or both, to a fine not exceeding level 4 or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both.

The remaining clauses of the Bill and the Schedule were approved without amendment.  And the Bill as amended, was referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for its report on the consistency of otherwise with the Constitution.

International Agreement Approved by Both Houses

On Tuesday 18th and Thursday 20th respectively the National Assembly and the Senate approved the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment.  Zimbabwe has been a State party to the Convention for some years but had not yet ratified the Protocol on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment.  The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development presented the Protocol in both Houses and it was approved without any opposition.  Whether or not ratification of the Protocol raises any issues about domestication [incorporation of the Convention and Protocol into Zimbabwean law was not discussed.  Veritas is aware that South Africa has incorporated both the Convention and the Protocol into South African law.






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