Constitution Amendment Bill Passed by National Assembly

Late yesterday afternoon, 25th July, the National Assembly finally passed the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill, as amended on 27th June . The official record shows the Third Reading vote count as 182 in favour, 41 against.

This was enough, but by only two votes, to satisfy the constitutional requirement of 180 affirmative votes [a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly’s membership of 270].  Rounding up enough ZANU-PF MPs to carry the day seems to have posed difficulties despite ZANU-PF holding 212 seats and having had over three weeks to urge the necessary attendance.  The Bill is now with the Senate.

A note on numbering of bulletins

Last week’s Bill Watch e-bulletin dated 18th July was incorrectly numbered 25/2107.  It should have been 24/2017, which is why today’s e-bulletin is 25/2017.  Bulletin numbering on the website has been corrected.  Veritas regrets any confusion caused.

In the Senate Last Week – 18th  to 20th July

Land Commission Bill

On 19th July Senators at last resumed discussion of the adverse report by the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] on their amendments to the Land Commission Bill.  Senator Chief Charumbira stressed that Senator Chiefs had been advised by lawyers that the amendments were not inconsistent with the Constitution and that the PLC’s contrary opinion was wrong.  He urged Senators to reject the report.  In the absence of the PLC chairperson Hon Samukange, PLC member Hon Ziyambi defended the report and said that the time had come for Senators to vote either for or against confirmation of the report.  The vote went against the PLC.  The Bill was then passed with the Senate’s amendments and sent back to the National Assembly, where it had originated, for consideration of the amendments.  Veritas has prepared an annotated version of the Bill showing the amendments made months ago by the National Assembly plus the Senate’s amendments confirmed this week [available on the Veritas website link].  No other business was dealt with that afternoon.

Note:  The National Assembly did not finalise any Bills during the week.  The Senate, therefore, had no other Bills on its agenda. 

Motions   On 18th July Senators made contributions to ongoing debates on—

  • three reports: (1) on the 40th Plenary Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, (2) by the Thematic Committee on Sustainable Development Goals on SDG No. 3 and (3) by the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS on HIV and AIDS in Institutions of Higher Learning in Zimbabwe
  • Senator Timveos’ motion on Statelessness in Zimbabwe which among other things calls for comprehensive birth registration and civil registration systems in Zimbabwe with a view to prevent statelessness, accession to the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, and Government support for the drafting, adoption and ratification of a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Right to Nationality and the Eradication of Statelessness in Africa

Question Time   On 20th July Question Time was pre-empted by a very early adjournment to enable Senators to listen to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development’s presentation of the 2016 Budget Review and 2017 Economic Outlook

In the National Assembly Last Week – 18th to 20th July

Bills

Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill   The Bill’s Third Reading did not take place.  It was carried forward to this week. Reminder: The Committee Stage ended on 27th June, with amendments having been approved to clauses 6 and 8.

ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill  This recommitted Bill was originally passed months ago and sent to the President for assent.  The President returned it to the National Assembly for further attention, drawing attention to an omission from the preamble to the Bill.  On 18th July the House approved the substitution of an entirely new preamble proposed by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to meet the President’s objection.  The Bill was then referred to the PLC for its report on the constitutionality of the amendment.

Insolvency Bill  Vice-President Mnangagwa presented the Bill on 20th July and it was read the First Time and immediately referred to the PLC.  The Bill was gazetted on 14th April and is still available on the Veritas website [link]

National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill [link]    On 20th July the House resumed the Committee Stage of this Bill, with Minister of State Kanengoni standing in for Vice-President Mphoko.  Hon Gonese moved his first amendment, to enhance the introduction to the preamble, but later withdrew it in the interests of progress in the face of opposition from the Minister of State.  His next amendment was to remove the year “2017” from clause which sets out the title of the Act that the Bill may in due course become.  That, too, he withdrew when it was not accepted by the Minister of State.  The same happened to his amendment to insert a definition of “human rights violation” in clause 2 containing definitions; the Minister of State said it would risk the Bill’s becoming inconsistent with the Constitution.  When the House adjourned, clause 3 was still under discussion.  The House still faces many other clauses and a number of other amendments proposed by Hon Gonese, all of which are available on the Veritas website [link].

2016 Budget Review and 2017 Economic Outlook  The main business on 20th July was the Minister of Finance and Economic Development’s presentation of this document [link].  After the Minister’s speech, Hon Mashakada, the MDC-T shadow Minister, responded in a highly critical presentation.

International loan agreement approved  On 19th July the House approved the loan agreement with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to support the Zhove Irrigation Programme [already approved by the Senate].

Motions  Hon Auxillia Mnangagwa introduced her motion for the House to take note of the Report on the Role of the Pan-African Parliament in Promoting the Free Movement of People and the African Passport.

Coming up in the National Assembly This Week [25th to 27th July]

The debate on the 2016 Budget Review and 2017 Economic Outlook, presented last Thursday, continued briefly on 25th July before the House turned to the Constitution Amendment Bill.

Bills

Now that the Constitution Amendment Bill has gone to the Senate, the Bills remaining on the Order Paper are—

National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill [link] – for continuation of the Committee Stage.  Clause 3 has been reached.  There is a long way to go.  Several pages of major amendments proposed by Hon Gonese, MDC-T Chief Whip will have to be considered [amendments available on Veritas website, link].

Estate Administrators Amendment Bill [link] – awaiting the beginning of its Committee Stage.  There are no proposed amendments on the Order Paper.

Still listed is the motion by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development to restore his Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill [link] to the Order Paper at the stage it had reached when it lapsed at the end of the last Parliamentary session on 5th October 2016 – i.e. the Bill had already been the subject of public hearings and received a non-adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] and was ready for the Second Reading stage.  This motion was first listed on the Order Paper for Tuesday 16th May this year, but was stood down by the Deputy Minister pending further discussions between the Ministry and the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy after it was pointed out to him that the Portfolio Committee had advised the Ministry against amalgamating exploration and marketing functions under one statutory body and had instead recommended two separate Bills for two separate bodies. If the Minister withdraws this Bill and replace it with two separate Bills the whole process will have to be repeated from the very beginning, for both Bills.

Motions

Youth Bank  A new Private Members motion scheduled to be moved by on Wednesday after Question Time urges the establishment of a Youth Bank, similar to the Women’s Bank, to provide start-up investment capital for enterprising youths to launch businesses.

Other motions  There are also plenty of adjourned debates to be continued on other motions.

Coming up in the Senate This Week

Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill   The Bill was transmitted to the Senate after being passed by the National Assembly yesterday.  Passing it in the Senate will also need a two-thirds majority [54 votes out of 80].  Senators look likely to have a busy remainder of the week.  They will be considering the Bill as amended by the National Assembly [annotated version available from Veritas – link].

Bills Passed by Parliament but not yet Gazetted as Acts

These Bills have been with the President for his assent since 5th July [see the official notifications from Parliament in General Notices 321 and 322 gazetted on 14th July]—

  • Movable Property Security Interests Bill [link to Bill, link to amendments]
  • Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Bill [link].

Government Gazette Friday 21st July

New Bill  The Pubic Entities Corporate Governance Bill [H.B. 5, 2017] was gazetted by the Clerk of Parliament [GN 335/2017].  It will be our website later today.

Statutory Instruments [5 gazetted]

Electoral (Voter Registration) Regulations  SI 85/2017 [link]  [these important new regulations will be discussed in a forthcoming Election Watch e-bulletin..

Collective Bargaining Agreements  Two SIs were gazetted: Agricultural Industry Kapenta Sector [SI 82/2017] and Cigarette and Tobacco Manufacturing Industry [SI 84/2017].

Investor Protection Fund Rules  SI 83/2017 enacts rules made by the Securities and Exchange Commission, with the approval of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.  The rules regulate the operations of the Investor Protection Fund established by section 86G of the Securities and Exchange Act, a provision added to the Act by a 2013 amendment.

Postal and Telecommunications Licence, Registration & Certification regulations – Licence Fees  The brief regulations in SI 86/2016 state they have been made by the Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Servicesin consultation with the Postal and Telecommunications Authority.  The regulations the initial and renewal licence fees specified in the principal regulations that are payable for the following licences: public fixed telecommunications, mobile cellular, internet access and data communication.  Each of the specified is fees is now qualified by the words “or as determined by the Authority”.   So the Authority can now vary – up or down – the specified fees.  This is an example of ultra vires regulation-making which should be challenged by the Parliamentary Legal Committee.  The Minister’s power is to lay down these licence fees in the regulations [Postal and Telecommunications Act, sections 32 and 99], not to surrender his powers to the Authority in the way this SI attempts to do.

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.

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