BILL WATCH 17-2023 - Both Houses of Parliament Now in Recess until 9th May

BILL WATCH 17/2023

[8th April 2023]

The National Assembly Has Joined the Senate in Recess

until Tuesday 9th May 2023

The National Assembly sat this week on Tuesday 4th April and Wednesday 5th April.  At the end of Wednesday’s short sitting for the normal Wednesday Question Time, the House went into recess until Tuesday 9th May 2023, as the Senate had done last week.  The Government did not take the opportunity to make progress on any Bills.   No Bills were, therefore, dealt with on either occasion.

In the National Assembly Tuesday 4th April

The Deputy Speaker, Hon Tsitsi Gezi, was in the chair.

Preliminary – One-Minute Statements on Matters of Public Importance

Several members seized the opportunity afforded by Standing Order 61 to use the first twenty minutes of the sitting to raise matters of public importance:

Hon Mliswa pointed to the few MPs in attendance and said that was caused by neglect of MPs’ welfare, including accommodation challenges, failure to pay allowances and other benefits, blaming the Executive [to which the Deputy Speaker replied that the authorities would be reminded to speed payments up];

Hon Nduna raised points of failure to give title deeds to township dwellers under council home-ownership schemesHe also raised the Government’s failure to act on his repeated suggestions for there to be accident victims’ stabilisation centres at all tollgates [the Deputy Speaker said the Minister of Local Government and Public Works would be asked to come to Parliament to make a Ministerial statement on the title deeds issue, and that Hon Nduna should put down a motion on stabilisation centres].

Hon Madzimure raised an issue of principle that it was contrary the Education Act and Government policy for teachers to belong to a political association such as TeachersforED.  When the Deputy Speaker said her understanding was that the initials ED stood for Economic Development, Hon Madzimure’s rejoinder was “Madam Speaker, This House is not a joke. We swore waving a bible and we know there is no economic development association for teachers. These are teachers for Emmerson Dambudzo.”  He was asked to bring proof and promised to do so.  

Hon Maphosa expressed concern that there had been too much emphasis on the problems of the girl-child to the detriment of action on the problems faced by the boy-child.  

Motion on Excessive and Prevalent Abuse of Drugs by Youths

Bills were put on hold – perhaps because there were no Ministers present to take them through the House – and the House instead chose to deal with item 15 on the Order Paper, a motion on the excessive and prevalent abuse of youths countrywide.  The motion was then moved by Hon Nyabani and seconded by Hon Nduna.  Many other MPs wished to make contributions and the House heard speeches of varying lengths from a score of MPs for well over two hours.  All agreed that the problem was indeed serious and called for stern action, particularly against those supplying or importing the drugs.  The motion was then adopted without further debate; it calls for the following action by Government:

(a)  put in place measures that will curb abuse of drugs by youths through self-help projects and by so doing keep the youths fully occupied all the time;

(b)  set up rehabilitation centres and hospitals to assist youths who are addicted to drugs to the extent of living such abuse as their way of life; and

(c)  legislate for stiffer penalties for the importation of those substances that give rise to incidents of drug abuse in the country.

The House then rose until Wednesday.

In the National Assembly Wednesday 5th April

The Hon Speaker was in the chair.  He read out a list of apologies received from over ten Ministers.  Hon Ziyambi, the Leader of Government Business, was among the those not present, and Hon Mutsvangwa, Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, acted in his place.

Question Time

Questions without notice

Hon Togarepi asked whether village heads were receiving their prescribed allowances, and Hon Chombo, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works, said registered village heads should be, although there were a number of unregistered heads wspeakho would be receiving allowances when registered by the Ministry.  She also informed the House that village heads would be receiving bicycles and headmen motor-cycles.

Hon Nyabani asked his question about examination centres in his constituency being far from where people lived (carried forward from the previous afternoon’s one-minute statements on matters of public importance), and the Speaker ruled that, as the question was about a particular area, it should be put down as a written question with notice, which would enable the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to have the answer prepared.

Hon Labode raised a point from a recent Zimstat report that 700 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 had given birth in 2022 and asked what was being done to curb the scourge of teenage pregnancies. 

A shocked Minister Mutsvangwa, who was standing in as Leader of Government Business for Minister Ziyambi, reacted that no person should take a 10-year old child as a woman and suggested that the Minister of Home Affairs should inform the House how many of the culprits “have been jailed or castrated if they need to be”.  The Speaker reminded her that the law did not provide for castration, but agreed that a request for Ministerial Statement from the Ministry of Health and Child Care was in order

Hon Maphosa added that, as everyone agreed that 10 to 14 year olds are children, the statement should cover what measures were going to be put in place to ensure that “no child gives birth to a child”.

Hon Mugadza raised question about “black spots” on roads that were notorious for accidents, citing frequent accidents involving heavy vehicles on Christmas Pass near Mutare .  The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon Mhona [who is always present at Question Time] answered that plans were being made to divert trucks and lorries to a by-pass road so they would avoid using Christmas Pass.  He also answered questions from other MPs.  Other identified black spots would be signposted with warning signs.  

Written Questions with Notice

Non-publication of Uchena Report on Urban Land of December 2019 [Hon Markham]

When the Temporary Speaker announced that the first six questions on the Order Paper because the Ministers concerned had only received the questions a short time ago, Hon Markham complained that this was the 24th time he had asked why the Uchena Report had not been tabled in Parliament and that it was absurd that the question had been referred to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, because the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs was in possession of the report; Hon Markham he also took the opportunity to list his other unanswered questions, including failure to pay the US$ portion of the wheat price to most wheat farmers, which the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement – a Minister who has two deputy Ministers – had failed to answer many times.

Traffic congestion at the Chimanimani exit from Mutare [Hon Gonese]

Hon Mhona, however, was able to provide Hon Gonese with an answer to his question: a contractor would start work on the problem to provide much-needed relief; meanwhile haulage trucks had been diverted to another road.

Bills carried forward for Consideration in May

The list of Bills awaiting consideration remains the same as the list given at the end of Bill Watch 15/2023 of [link]

Electoral Amendment Bill [link] for continuation/completion of Second Reading debateComments by Veritas are available [link].  The Minister’s Second Reading speech and the Portfolio Committee’s report [link] were presented on 2nd February; see Bill Watch 6/2023 [link]The proposed amendments on the Order Paper by Hons Gonese, Hwende and Mushoriwa have been rearranged in the customary clause-by-clause order by Parliament [link].

Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill [“Patriot Bill”] [link] – for the start of the Second Reading stage with the delivery of the explanatory speech by Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  The report on this Bill by the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs should be ready for presentation to the House after the Minister’s speech.

Prisons and Correctional Service Bill [link] – for continuation of the Second Reading debate.  The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs delivered his Second Reading speech on 31st January.  The report on the Bill’s public hearings by Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs’ report must now be ready for presentation, given that the committee has put down its proposed amendments on the Order Paper [link].  MPs will be able to make their contributions to the debate on the Bill after the report has been presented.  

Medical Services Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of Second Reading debate.  There are Committee Stage amendments already on the Order Paper by Hon Dr Labode [link].  The report of the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care is on the Veritas website [link].

Insurance and Pensions Commission [IPEC] Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of Committee Stage from clause 4 and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development has further amendments on the Order Paper [link].

Insurance Bill [link] – for start of the Committee Stage.  There are as yet no proposed amendments on the Order Paper, but proposals are expected on the strength of what was said by MPs during the Second Reading debate.

Public Finance Management Amendment Bill [link] – for start of Second Reading stage.  

Children’s Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of Second Reading debate.  Veritas commented on this Bill in Bill Watch 23/2022 [link] and drew attention to the probable need to align its provisions to the Child Justice Bill.  As the Child Justice Bill has now been passed by Parliament without amendment [see above], this comment remains applicable.

Labour Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of MPs contributions to the Second Reading debate.  The Portfolio Committee report on the public hearings was presented in July 2022 and is available on the Veritas website [link].

Electricity Amendment Bill [link] – for start of Second Reading stage.  Veritas has commented twice, in Bill Watch 42/2022 [link] and “further thoughts” in Bill Watch 52/2022 [link].

REMINDER: Post-Cabinet Meeting Briefings Available on Veritas Website

Every time Cabinet meets the Minister or Acting Minister of Information [usually on a Tuesday morning], there is a Press Briefing on that day’s meeting.  These – since their introduction in 2019 – are available on the Veritas website under Governance, Post Cabinet Meeting Briefings.  For instance, the briefing on the most recent Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 4th April can be downloaded at this [link], featuring: the preparations for the  2023 Independence Anniversary Celebrations on Tuesday 18th April detailed and also reports on progress made in the implementation of priority projects for the 1st 100-Day Cycle of 2023, presented by the Ministers of Industry and Commerce, Finance and Economic Development.  There is usually a COVID update.

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