Bill Watch 4/2011: GPA lives on; House of Assembly reopens

zim_parliamentThe House of Assembly will meet on Tuesday 15th February
The Senate has adjourned until Tuesday 22nd February
Second Anniversary of the GPA

It was on 11th February 2009 that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his two deputy prime ministers, Thokozani Khupe and Arthur Mutambara, were sworn in by President Mugabe, marking the b

Inclusive Government Continues

ZANU-PF and the President have been saying that the GPA would expire after two years of the Inclusive Government but could be extended by agreement of the parties although they expressed unwillingness to countenance an extension beyond mid-2011. This position is at odds with the GPA because there is no express statement in the GPA that it will come to an end on any particular date. Nor can a two-year life-span be read in by implication.

When the GPA was negotiated it was certainly expected by all sides that the Inclusive Government would last only about two years. It was also then expected that the constitution-making process would follow the timetable set out in Article 6 of the GPA. Then, assuming a yes vote in the referendum, a new constitution would have been enacted by Parliament not later than mid-October 2010. There would then have been time for the holding of elections and the formation of a new government under a new constitution before February 2011. But the constitution-making process is still far from complete and has not been abandoned or disowned by the GPA parties. So the GPA remains in force and it is not necessary for the parties to sit down and agree on an extension. De facto this is what is happening, with a Council of Ministers meeting scheduled for this week and a Cabinet meeting for next [this weeks Cabinet has been cancelled because the President is away]. Parliament is continuing as normal.

Parliamentary Update

House of Assembly Agenda for Coming Week

On Tuesday the House of Assembly will be meeting for the first time since 15th December last year. Its agenda lists Bills, motions and, for Wednesday, questions for reply by Ministers.

Bills Only two Bills presently feature on the agenda:

Deposit Protection Corporation Bill The Second Reading debate on this Bill is due to commence on Tuesday. The Bill proposes the establishment of a Deposit Protection Corporation and Deposit Protection Fund to provide for the compensation of depositors in failed financial institutions. This would replace the existing compensation scheme, which is spelled out in the Banking Act and in regulations made under that Act.

Small Enterprises Development Corporation Amendment Bill This Bill is still under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]; it cannot proceed to its Second Reading until the PLC has rendered a favourable report.

Two other Bills have been gazetted and await introduction: the General Laws Amendment Bill and the National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill [see Update on Bills below]. They may be introduced later in the week.

Motions Several motions concern portfolio committee reports on such subjects as: the status of Small and Medium Enterprises in Harare; Air Zimbabwe and the Civil Aviation Authority; the Ministry of Higher Educations Cadetship Support Scheme; the operations of NSSA; and service delivery in Harare, Norton and Chitungwiza. There is also a motion on the Presidents speech at the opening of the session [Standing Orders allow backbenchers 35 hours for their contributions before Ministers reply to points raised; so far just under 6 hours have been used]

Wednesday Question Time There are 29 questions carried forward from last year and 14 new ones, including:

for the Minister of Local Government, about his knowledge of a due diligence report on Augur Investments, a contractor for the construction of the Airport Road in Harare when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2007

for the Minister of Public Service, about the delay in presenting the results of the Civil Service Audit to Parliament

for the Minister of Defence, about soldiers intimidating and harassing members of the public in Chipinge East constituency

for the Minister of Water Resources Development, about measures to ensure Bulawayos water supply in view of the decommissioning, completed or proposed, of its major dams.

The Senate will not meet this Week

Last Week in the Senate

The Senate met on Tuesday and Wednesday, then adjourned until Tuesday 22nd February, having passed four Bills and commenced debate on two motions. As the House of Assembly is sitting during the coming week, there may be more Bills for the Senate to consider when it resumes.

Bills Passed

All four Bills dealt with were taken through all stages on Tuesday afternoon, without amendment. They now await the Presidents assent and gazetting as Acts before they become law as the first Acts of 2011.

Criminal Laws Amendment (Protection of Power, Communication and Water Infrastructure) Bill The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs delivered his second reading speech explaining the Bill. Not one Senator had anything to contribute, not even on the Bills provisions for mandatory minimum sentences of five and ten years imprisonment for certain offences.

Attorney-Generals Office Bill The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs delivered his second reading speech. The Bill was passed without any debate.

Zimbabwe National Security Council Amendment Bill The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs delivered his second reading speech and there was one, not strictly relevant, contribution from Senator Mudzingwa [MDC-T], who queried the inability of the co-Ministers of Home Affairs to exercise control over the police force. The Minister replied that while the Police Act permits the Ministers to give general policy directions to the Commissioner-General of Police, it would be wrong to allow politicians to interfere with operational matters such as arrests and investigations, which were best left to the Commissioner-General. The Bill was then passed without further discussion.

Energy Regulatory Authority Bill Before passing the Bill, Senators had a few questions for the Minister of Energy and Power Development during the second reading debate, mainly on whether passing the Bill into law would contribute to the elimination of problems like the recent fuel shortages, the ZESA billing system, and unreliable power supplies.


Sanctions Senator Georgias of ZANU-PF introduced a motion calling on the inclusive Government to:

institute a class action case against the EU at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) Court of First Instance against the illegal, unjustified, hostile and racial sanctions;

demand that the western powers withdraw the sanctions and end their hostile propaganda against Zimbabwe;

mobilise international support for the repeal of the sanctions and unlocking of bilateral aid and financial support as well as international good will.

Debate will continue when the Senate resumes.

Motion on Presidents Speech Opening Session Debate commenced on this traditional motion and will continue for some time. Standing Orders allow backbench Senators 15 hours within which to speak to this motion, after which Ministers are expected to reply to points raised; 46 minutes have elapsed.

Standing Rules and Orders Committee Meeting

This most important of Parliaments committees will meet on Monday 14th February. It is expected to deal with a proposal made in the House of Assembly that there be a Prime Ministers Question Time in both the House of Assembly and the Senate. It will also deal with whether Mr Gonese, an MP in the Lower House and who introduced his Private Members Bill to amend POSA in that House, can talk to the Bill in the Senate. The Bill has been passed by the House of Assembly and now awaits attention in the Senate. Normally this sort of question does not as arise, as most Bills are Government Bills introduced by Ministers, who have the right to their Bills in both Houses.

Update on Bills

Bills Passed and Awaiting Presidential Assent and Gazetting as Acts

Criminal Laws Amendment (Protection of Power, Communication and Water Infrastructure) Bill

Attorney-Generals Office Bill

Zimbabwe National Security Council Amendment Bill

Energy Regulatory Authority Bill

Bills in House of Assembly

See House of Assembly Agenda above.

Bills Gazetted and Awaiting Introduction

General Laws Amendment Bill [gazetted 22nd October 2010] [Electronic version available address requests to [email protected]]

National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill [gazetted 5th November 2010]

Bills being printed for presentation in Parliament


Government Gazette

Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe [BAZ] Notice General Notice 21/2011, gazetted on 11th February, contains a Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe [BAZ] notice inviting applications for minor broadcasting services licences in various categories [diffusion services in hotels and institutions; rail- and roadcasting in trains and buses; webcasting; and electronic billboard advertising]. Licences for radio and TV stations are not mentioned.

Labour Court Calendar for 2011 is published in GN 23/2011. Terms and vacations are identical to those of the Supreme Court and High Court. Circuits are different. [Electronic version available address requests to [email protected]]

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

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