Bill Watch 02-2024 - In Parliament since 30th January & Coming Up This Week


[12th February 2024]

In Parliament Since 30th January and 

Coming Up in Both Houses This Week

The National Assembly resumed its sittings on Tuesday 30th January and also met last week.  The Senate only resumed on Tuesday 6th February. This bulletin summarises: first, events in the National Assembly for both Parliamentary weeks; secondly, events in the Senate last week and, thirdly, what’s coming up in both Houses this week. 

In the National Assembly 30th January to February 8th

Absence of Opposition [CCC] MPs from Four Days’ Sittings

For the first four sittings – from 30th January to 6th February – having been denied entry into Parliament under the Speaker’s ruling of 14th December ejecting them from the House and barring them from Parliament and its precincts for the next four sittings 

New MP sworn in on Tuesday 30th January

Hon Chineka Muchimba was sworn in as ZANU PF MP for Binga North, having won the by-election held on 9th December 2023.  He replaces the former CCC MP, Prince Dubeko Sibanda, who had been recalled by Mr Tshabangu.  

Continuing debate on Hon Mutodi’s Motion on Illegal Sanctions by US Government under ZIDERA

This debate started on Tuesday 12th December 2023 on a motion proposed by Hon Mutodi and seconded by Hon Shamu.  The motion calls for: a delegation from the Parliament of Zimbabwe to the USA to present a briefing paper on the “heinous and illegal” sanctions to the US President and Congress requesting them to expeditiously and unconditionally repeal ZIDERA [the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001] which has caused so much suffering to ordinary Zimbabweans; the delegation should engage with the US Congress with the same objective; Zimbabwe to present its case to the United Nations by the end of December 2023; and, finally, calls on the US Government to engage with the Zimbabwean Government “on terms that promote mutual benefit through economic and political cooperation”.  MPs responded enthusiastically to this motion.

A change of emphasis arose when Hon Ndudzo said It is high time that we also take measures that are not limited to what has been proposed by Hon. Dr Mutodi. We need to take measures that go beyond paying a visit to the US Congress.”… We should be able to pass legislation that will speak to our will and commitment to make sure that we are not ending in the description of sanctions, but we are taking measures to combat sanctions.”   ZANU PF Chief Whip, Hon Togarepi, agreed with Hon Ndudzo, ending his contribution with “… these self-imposed policemen of the world continue to impose sanctions on our people. We cannot continue to handle them with kid gloves. It is time that we say this is a war declared on us and on our economy. The same people who sanctioned our country cannot come and do business here. ... They cannot make money out of our lithium, our gold, diamonds et cetera, while they use the same money to destroy our economy ...

The motion was adopted on Thursday 8th February.

Continuing Debate on 2023 Commemoration of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence [GBV] 

This debate started in November 2023 and is continuing because MPs have a lot to say about the subject.  The theme for the 2023 commemoration was Invest to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls.  A few male MPs – for example, Hon Ganyiwa – insisted that men can suffer from gender-based violence as well as women and girls in a number of ways, ranging from physical beating to emotional abuse, including by sheer number of words spoken.    

New debate on ZEC Report on the 2023 Harmonised Elections

On Tuesday 6th February, while CCC MPs were still barred from the National Assembly, the Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Mazungunye, in a brief introductory speech launched debate on the Report by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] on last year’s elections[link].  He was followed  by several ruling party MPs who generally praised ZEC for its conduct of the elections countrywide.  Hon Karimatsingu-Nyamupinga congratulated Justice Priscilla Chigumba on her just-announced reappointment as ZEC chairperson, praising the President for recognizing that women always do a better job.  There were dismissive remarks about those Observer Reports that were deemed hostile, particularly, SADC’s.

Motion on curbing drug and substance abuse by youth  

Hon Mapiki presented his motion on the latest scourge to hit Zimbabwe’s youth, which suggests various remedies, including the establishment of more rehabilitation centres for victims and compulsory prison terms for dealers.  Other MPs were eager to offer their ideas on the problem. 

Question Time two Wednesdays running

On both Wednesdays, 31st January and 7th February, there was a long list of apologies from Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

On 31st January a question from Hon Nyabani about the widespread habit of drinking of alcohol in public places was answered by the Leader of Government Business, Hon Ziyambi, who explained that an investigation into the broad issue of alcohol and drug abuse (including compliance with the liquor licensing laws) was being carried out under a Cabinet Committee chaired by the Minister of Defence, Hon Muchinguri.  

The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Hon Torerai Moyo, said whether CALA [Continuous Assessment of Learning Activities]­ would be removed or reviewed would be decided at the next Cabinet meeting.  The Minister agreed with Hon Nhari that CALA had cost parents a great deal of money, even more than the tuition fees in rural areas.   

A question by Hon Mangondo about the current cholera epidemic [which included engaging leaders of religious sects in which members refuse to accept medical treatment] led to a lengthy answer from the Minister of Health and Child Care.  He said that the Ministry was sinking boreholes at its clinics and hospitals and working with the Presidential Borehole Plan to ensure potable water; was rolling out a vaccination programme that had started on Monday 29th January, having procured over 800 000 doses and expecting over two million more doses in batches; and said that he had personally engaged religious leaders in the areas known to harbour resistance to medical treatment, making some headway and recommending more outreach to reach communities.  Hon Mapiki asked about using traditional healers; the Minister, however, said that no traditional healer had yet claimed a cure for cholera. 

On 7th February Hon Sacco, Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development found himself answering questions about rehabilitation of roads.    

Adverse report by Parliamentary Legal Committee

SI 153 of 2023 – High Court (Amendment) Rules, 2023 (No. 1) [link]

This was an SI – made by the Chief Justice and the Judge President and approved by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs – providing for the hearing of High Court cases to be conducted virtually by use of the new Integrated Electronic Case Management System [IECMS].  The PLC found various amendments the SI made to the High Court Rules 2021, SI 202 of 2021 [link], to be inconsistent with sections 68, 69 and 70 of the Constitution, which deal with the right to administrative justice, the right of access to the courts, to a fair and public hearing and the rights of accused persons. In the absence of any objection from MPs to the adverse report [but with an assurance from the Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that “as the Ministry of Justice, together with JSC, we will sit down and come up with any necessary amendments or changes in that regard if there are any”] the House went on to approve a contradictory resolution “that the Statutory Instrument would, if enacted, be in contravention of the declaration of rights and some provisions of the Constitution” [Veritas underlining].  In reality, the  statutory instrument, was enacted on 25th August 2023 and has been treated as law ever since.  The effect of the resolution will be discussed in a separate Veritas Court Watch bulletin to be circulated and posted on the Veritas website shortly.  

Persons with Disabilities Bill gazetted

This Bill was gazetted late on Friday 9th February in a Government Gazette Extraordinary.  It is available on the Veritas website [link] and will be summarised in a separate bulletin.

In the Senate Last Week

Apart from the afternoon of Thursday 8th February, when the Senate extended its usual Question Time and sat for over one and a half hours until 4.04 pm, Senators contented themselves with short sittings and continuing debates on motions carried over from December last year, including motions on gender-based violence and drug and substance abuse by youths.  They did not start the debate on the ZEC report on the 2023 Harmonised Elections, as expected, because most Senators had not been provided with copies of the report.

Coming Up in Parliament This Week 

Both Houses are scheduled to open debate on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission [NPRC] Annual Report for 2023 [link] and continue debating the ZEC report on the 2023 Harmonised Elections.

The National Assembly is due to give further consideration to the PLC’s adverse report on the Death Penalty Abolition Bill, provided the further discussions mentioned above have been successful.  Also scheduled are Hon Jere’s motion about poor corporate governance in the banking sector from 2013 to date being responsible for huge losses by investors.

Questions to Ministers will take place on Wednesday afternoon in the National Assembly and on Thursday afternoon in the Senate.

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