Bill Watch 08-2024 - Update for Last Week and What's Expected this Coming Week


[16th March 2024]

Both Houses Will Continue Sitting on Tuesday 19th March 

This bulletin covers what happened in both Houses of Parliament during the week just passed (i.e. on the sitting days Tuesday 12th to Thursday 14th March) and what can be expected to happen during the coming week (i.e., on the sitting days Tuesday 19th to Thursday 21st March).

Bill Status as at Friday 15th March

Death Penalty Bill [link]   

This is a  Private Member’s Bill presented, with leave of the House, by Hon Edwin Mushoriwa.  

Three Bills awaiting PLC reports on their constitutionality 

The PLC did not during the week’s sittings submit reports on the constitutionality of the three Bills that have been under consideration since their First Readings on Thursday 7th March:  

·        Criminal Laws Amendment (Protection of Children and Young Persons) Bill [link];

·        Administration of Estates Amendment Bill [link];

·        Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [link].  

Notes:  The House resolution suspending Standing Order 142(1) – to enable the early presentation and First Reading – did not suspend the rules that the Bills have to be considered by the PLC.  

We have commented on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill in Bill Watches 5/2024 [linkand 6/2024 [link], finding important provisions inconsistent with the Constitution.  Our analysis and comments on the other two Bills will follow shortly.  

Bill awaiting presentation and First Reading (1)

·        Persons with Disabilities Bill [link]   This is the only other Bill awaiting presentation, First Reading and referral to the PLC.  It was gazetted on 9th February.

Bills awaiting gazetting (2)

·        Parks and Wildlife Amendment Bill (Bill proofs went to the Attorney-General’s Office on 7th March 2024) 

·        Civil Aviation Amendment Bill (Bill proofs went to the Attorney-General’s Officeon 10th November 2023).

General Business in Parliament in the Past Week

Health check for MPs  It was announced in both Houses that Parliament’s Health Service Department in conjunction with the Public Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) would be conducting a health, mental and wellness programme from Tuesday 12th to Thursday 14th March, beginning with a presentation for one and a half hours, followed by screening for blood pressure, diabetes, breast, prostate and cervical cancers in the Clinic Area on the First Floor.

Climate Change Sensitisation Workshop   It was announced in both Houses that there would be a workshop for all members of Parliament on this subject scheduled for Friday 15th March (starting with lunch at 12 noon) and continuing on Saturday 16th March at 8 am.

In the National Assembly Last Week [12th to 14th March]

Motion adopted: Need to improve conditions of service of local authority councillors  

Despite having been discussed fully the week before, after its presentation by Hon Jere, debate on this motion took up most of Tuesday 12th March sitting until a “technical fault” led to the adjournment at 4 pm. 

Debate continued on Thursday 14th March, with several MPs contributing.  Then the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Hon Chitando, responded to the debate, referring to President Mnangagwa’s Blue-print, a Call to Action and No Compromise to Service Delivery launched on 1st November 2023 and to his Ministry’s circular dated 27th February 2024 on councillors’ allowances which had precipitated the motion.  The Minister acknowledged the key role played by councillors in development and, noting the points made during the debate, promised that “These (allowances and conditions of service) will be reviewed and an appropriate announcement will be made soon..  The motion was then adopted by the House.

Take-note motion withdrawn: ZEC report on the 2023 elections  On Thursday The Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Mazungunyewound up the debate with a speech generally defending the report and ZEC’s conduct of  the elections.  On assisted voting for illiterate and handicapped voters, about the excessive and unjustified abuse of which Hon Karenyi of CCC had complained, he said Parliament could amend the Electoral Act if there was a mischief”.  He thanked MPs for a lively and robust debate before withdrawing the motion with the leave of the House.

Wednesday 13th March – Question Time

Once again, as in the previous week, the two parts of Question Time took up the whole of Wednesday afternoon’s sitting until 5.22 pm. 

Questions without Notice were noteworthy for the attempt by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Ziyambi, to answer Hon M. Sibanda’s question on the Government’s position on demolition of the houses of illegal settlers on State land and “the land barons who are real perpetrators of illegal settlements”.  In a lengthy reply, Hon Ziyambi said this:

Coming to the main body of the question, it is very correct that we have a menace of land barons, land barons who are deliberately misleading innocent citizens, allocating and fleecing them of their hard-earned money, allocating them land which does not belong to them.  Government is now going to undertake an exercise where we will involve everyone; the community, the lands officers, our chiefs and be able to go area by area addressing the issues and identifying the culprits.  Those culprits will then be arrested and dealt with.  What Government requires is that all those who want land must follow the lawful procedures of acquiring land.  People must desist from being swindled by these land barons that you refer to.  

We believe that undertaking a piecemeal approach to this, we may not realise the desired result.  We are going to have a whole of Government approach or whole of society approach where we say if we are dealing with Harare, we are going to Caledonia and we want everyone involved to be in that particular area.  We then ask the real issues, who has been doing what?  Among the people who are there, we then separate the innocent from the culprits and we deal with the culprits.  We look at the situation and say, how can this situation be remedied and we get a full solution to it.  That is an exercise that is going to come very soon and we are prepared as Government to deal with this issue once and for all. ... The President is for people to have adequate accommodation where they have proper housing.  The President is not for demolishing people’s houses.  In fact, on the contrary, the President is saying even those in urban areas who do not have title deeds, despite having stayed in the same house for several years, and all they know is a card at the Municipal offices, let us ensure that they have title deeds.  It is true that if somebody has been occupying land for over 20 years, technically we cannot go there without violating that particular individual’s rights and say we are demolishing.  The law does not allow us to do that.  What we are saying is that we will go area by area with all the stakeholders involved and interrogate whether it is feasible to do that or not.  We have already started doing that.”

In the Senate Last Week [from 12th to 14th March]

New Motion on Climate-Smart Agriculture   On Tuesday 12th March Senator Mohadi moved her new motion expressing concern that Zimbabwe lacks effective climate change adaptation, and calling on Parliament and Government to take remedial action such as rolling out a programme for climate-smart agriculture.   

New motion on the Plight of Widows in Zimbabwe   On Wednesday 13th March Senator Tsomondo moved her new motion calling for stringent laws to stop such malpractices directed at widows as their routine eviction from their homes andwanton grabbing of their property by relatives after the death of their spouses; cultural practices that deprive them of their human rights, dignity and freedom.

Coming up in the National Assembly 19th to 21st March

Adjourned debates 

Annual Report for 2023 of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission [NPRC] [link]   This is item 1 on the Order Paper for Tuesday 19th March.

Reply to the Presidential speech  Item 3 on the Order Paper – for further responses by Ministers to points made during the debate by MPs.

Bill  The Death Penalty Abolition Bill is item 2 on the Order Paper.

New motions waiting to be presented  

Hon Jere has another new motion on the Order Paper (item 4) for 19th March alleging poor corporate governance in the banking sector over the last decade and calling on the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion to come up with comprehensive legislation that will, among other things,compel financial institutions to compensate clients who lose savings and investments as a result of poor governance.

There are two other new motions as items 5 and 6 on the Order Paper: (1) on the importance of security of tenure for all agricultural land held by indigenous Zimbabweans as envisaged by section 292 of the Constitution; (2) suggesting that the National Geospatial and Space Agency should have the responsibility for administering a National Cadastre System that serves as both the proposed Mining Cadastre System of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and Electronic Cadastre System of the Ministry of Lands – this would inevitably reduce the burden on the fiscus as the Agency currently has the infrastructure and capacity to administer a National Cadastre System.  

Coming up in the Senate 19th to 21st March

Take-note motion on 2023 Annual Report of the NPRC [link]   The last thing Minister Ziyambi did in the Senate on Thursday 14th March was to present the report and move the take-note motion, leaving Senators to  commence the debate on the report on Tuesday 19th March..

Download Document: