Both the Senate and the House of Assembly have adjourned until Tuesday 13th March
Highlights for Next Sitting of Parliament
Electoral Amendment Bill and Human Rights Commission Bill Minister of Defence Emerson Mnangagwa, in his capacity as Acting Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, gave notice of motions to restore both these important Bills to the Order Paper. This followed a decision to proceed with the Bills taken by the GPA principals at their meeting on Monday 27th February. The motions are expected to be dealt with when the House resumes on 13th March. [Veritas summarised and commented on the Electoral Amendment Bill in Bill Watches 37 and 38 of 15th September 2011; and covered the Human Rights Commission Bill in Bill Watches 41 and 42/2011 of 9th October 2011.] [Copies of both Bills and these issues of Bill Watch are available from [email protected]]
Request for Private Members Bill to Amendment to Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act Hon Gonese of MDC-T gave notice of a motion seeking permission to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to amend section 121(3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. [Note: Section 121(3) is the controversial provision under which the prosecution can block the release of an accused person on bail while the Attorney-General decides whether or not to appeal against the grant of bail. Both the main MDC formations have long complained that the provision has been routinely misused by the State, and a recent High Court judgment has roundly condemned its use in a recent case.
Mr Gonese’s Bill is a response to the inclusive government’s failure to come up with a Bill – in spite of agreement between by the GPA negotiators, and an instruction from the GPA principals to the Minister of Justice, the Commissioner-General of Police and the Attorney-General, that a Government Bill on the subject should be prepared. The Attorney-General has defended his office’s use of section 121(3) and said he would not play a part in amending the provision.] [Note: The Bill is not yet available.]
Motion to revive the Public Order and Security [POSA ]Amendment Bill This Private Member’s Bill was introduced by Hon Gonese in 2009, passed by the House of Assembly in December 2010 and transmitted to the Senate where it has stuck ever since. It lapsed at the end of the last session of Parliament, and Mr Gonese’s motion to restore it to the Senate Order Paper has been awaiting finalisation since the beginning of the present session in September 2011. But the motion was not debated last week, so it has been carried forward to the 13th March
In Parliament last Week
Both Houses sat on Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th February only. The main reason given for not sitting on Thursday was the holding in Bulawayo of the Liaison and Coordination Committee Retreat running from 1st to 4th March. [The Liaison and Coordination Committee is the committee responsible for coordinating the scheduling of all committee business; liaising with the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders; liaising with the Speaker and the President of the Senate about which MPs and Senators will attend conferences, seminars, workshops, etc; and reporting annually to the House and the Senate. The members of the committee are the chairpersons of the Portfolio and Thematic Committees, the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, the Chief Whips and the chairperson and vice-chairperson of the Women’s Caucus.]
In the Senate
With a short agenda, the Senate sat for 23 minutes on Tuesday and 13 minutes on Wednesday. Senator Hlalo contributed to the ongoing debate on Senator Komichi’s motion on the state of the media and deplored the content of a ZBC TV programme on the constitution-making process. Senator Mumvuri wound up the debate on his take note motion on the proceedings of the 2010 Conference of the African Parliamentary Union.
Deaths Senators observed a minute’s silence in honour of the late Senator Gladys Dube, elected MDC-T Senator for Mabutweni, who died on 26th December. Senator Enna Chitsa, elected MDC-T Senator for Masotsha-Ndlovu, died in Bulawayo on 2nd March.
In the House of Assembly
Deaths Members observed a minute’s silence in honour of two members who died during the Christmas adjournment: Hon Ziteya, ZANU-PFMP for Shamva South, who died on 17th December, and Hon Betty Chikava, ZANU-PF MP for Mount Darwin East, who died on 12th January.
Urban Councils Amendment Bill Hon Matimba’s Private Member’s Bill was given its First Reading and referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for a report on the Bill’s compatibility with the Constitution. [Bill available from [email protected]]
Motions Only two of several motions on the Order Paper were discussed:
On the Public Service Audit Most of Tuesday afternoon was taken up by debate on this motion, which calls for the report on the audit to be presented to the House together with a Government “roadmap” for dealing with the problem of unlawfully employed workers appearing on the State payroll. Members from all parties contributed to a lively debate, to be continued when the House resumes on 13th March. [Note: The audit was completed in November 2010 and referred to the Cabinet last year. Cabinet directed that it be verified by the Public Service Commission. The Minister of Public Service will have an opportunity to respond before the debate ends.]
On unconstitutional statements by service chiefs Winding up the debate on his motion, Hon Chikwinya explained that he had delayed doing so because the Minister of Defence had said he would make a statement to the House, with input from the service chiefs, on the issues raised. As the Minister had not kept his promise, it was now time to pass the motion without waiting any longer. Hon Chikwinya asked Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara, who was present, to take note that the House was displeased by motions it had passed being treated as merely academic and never being put into practice.
When the House passed a motion, it expected appropriate action to be taken. The motion was then passed. [Note: The motion condemns unconstitutional and treasonous statements that bring into disrepute the professional institutions of the Army and the Police; requests the relevant institutions to reaffirm their loyalty to the constitution and the laws of Zimbabwe; and directs relevant authorities to carry out investigations into the said utterances and make the findings public.
Prime Minister’s Question Time This was cancelled as the Prime Minister was in South Africa at a Forum on Investment in Zimbabwe.
Questions for Ministers were dealt with instead. Topics covered included:
Police road blocks and corruption The Deputy Prime Minister assured the House that Cabinet had considered public disquiet over the frequency and number of roadblocks and had directed the co-Ministers of Home Affairs to investigate the matter. Corrupt solicitation of bribes and the levying of spot fines at roadblocks would also be looked into.
Typhoid and other health issues The Minister of Health and Child Welfare said there had been only one death out of thousands of typhoid cases treated, and that his Ministry and other Ministries were working to eliminate the water and sanitation problems that allowed the disease to flourish; 30 of the country’s districts had been identified as “potentially susceptible” to typhoid outbreaks. The Minister also dealt at length with the Ministry’s efforts to phase out user fees at Government hospitals; and its measures to ensure achievement of Millennium Development Goals to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
Government debts to parastatals and local authorities The Minister of Finance gave details of the Government’s $300 million accumulated debts to entities such as ZESA, ZINWA, telephone service providers and local authorities. Failure to pay Government’s bills was attributed to last year’s unbudgeted $400 million pay increase for public servants.
Committee on Privileges The Speaker announced that Hon Gumbo has replaced Hon Mnangagwa as a member of the Committee of Privileges appointed to investigate the case of contempt of Parliament against SMM administrator Gwaradzimba. Mr Gwaradzimba’s lawyers had lodged an objection to Hon Mnangagwa, citing his prior involvement in the SMM saga.
Abuse of Constituency Development Funds
Three MPs in court over alleged CDF misuse Three members of the House of Assembly have appeared in court and been remanded on bail on allegations of misuse of Constituency Development Funds, following investigations by the Anti-Corruption Commission:
• Marvellous Khumalo, MDC-T MP for St Mary’s
• Franco Ndambukwa, ZANU-PF MP for Magunje
• Albert Mhlanga, MDC-T MP for Pumula.
Pending trial the MPs retain their full rights as MPs and may continue to sit and vote in the House and receive their salaries and allowances. But they risk losing their seats if convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for six months or more [Constitution, section 42].
Other cases being investigated At least one other MP from ZANU-PF has been referred to the Anti-Corruption Commission for investigation. And more cases are possible – the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs has so far audited only 65 constituencies out of a total of 210. It was these audits that resulted in the four cases referred to the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Update on Bills
[Copies of all these Bills available from [email protected]]
Bills passed by Parliament awaiting Presidential assent/gazetting as Acts
Small Enterprises Development Corporation [SEDCO] Amendment Bill [sent to President’s Office by Parliament on 30th September 2011]
Deposit Protection Corporation Bill [sent to President’s Office by Parliament on 8th December 2011] [Comment: The delays over gazetting these two pieces of legislation have not been officially explained. Section 51(2) of the Constitution calls for the President to assent or withhold assent to a Bill within 21 days of its presentation to him.]
Bill awaiting Second Reading in the House of Assembly
National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill
Bill awaiting Report from Parliamentary Legal Committee
Urban Councils Amendment Bill [referred to PLC 29th February 2011]
Bill gazetted and awaiting presentation [this can be introduced in either House]
Older Persons Bill [gazetted 9th September 2011]
Lapsed Bills from previous session awaiting restoration to Senate Order Paper
Public Order and Security [POSA] Amendment Bill [Private Member’s Bill]
Lapsed Bills from previous session awaiting restoration to House of Assembly Order Paper
Electoral Amendment Bill
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill.
Statutory Instruments and General Notices
Statutory Instruments Only two SIs were gazetted in the Government Gazette of 2nd March – SI 24/2012 [rents, service charges and supplementary charges for Masvingo City Council’s incorporated areas] and SI 25/2012 [Mberengwa Rural District Council’s new traffic by-laws, dealing mainly with parking of vehicles].
General Notices GNs 45 to 113/2012 publish lists of suppliers approved by the State Procurement Board for the purposes of the Procurement Act for the period March 2012 to February 2013.
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