[19th May 2014]
Both Houses Will Sit Again on Tuesday 20th May
Coming up in the National Assembly This Week
Electoral Amendment Bill Hon Majome, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is ready to present the committee’s report on the Bill following its round of public hearings. So the Second Reading debate may well continue this week, perhaps on Tuesday.
Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill The Order Paper for 20th May lists the Committee Stage of this Bill – the stage during amendments can be made while the Bill is being considered clause by clause. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, who is the Minister responsible for the Bill, has given notice that he will propose amendments affecting two of the Bill’s clauses: clause 6 [to reduce the size of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Board from the originally proposed 16 to 7] and clause 30 [to delete the clause entirely, because it provides for something already enacted into law by section 30 of the Finance Act 2014, which was gazetted on 4th April – replacing section 33 of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation Act, which deals with the prompt payment of dividends and special dividends to ZMDC shareholders from the sale of diamonds]. [Soft copy of Minister’s amendments and of Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill available from the addresses at the end of this bulletin. Also the Finance Act, 2014]
Trafficking in Persons Bill Despite the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs having stressed the Bill’s urgency in the Second Reading speech last week, further debate is expected to be postponed until the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services has completed its proposed public hearings on the Bill and is ready to present its report to the National Assembly.
Comment: It is to be hoped that the urgency [see the explanation given below under Last Week in Parliament] does not result in the Bill’s being passed in its present unsatisfactory form, without stakeholders being allowed to submit suggested improvements to the portfolio committee at its proposed public hearings.
International Investment Agreements Two agreements for the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments are listed for approval at the request of the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning. These are with:
• the State of Kuwait [signed in 2000]
• the Russian Federation [signed in 2012]
• the OPEC Fund for International Development.
In each case the approval of both Houses of Parliament is necessary before the Government can take the final steps to operationalise the agreement.
Report on the Causes of Road Carnage – this report by the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development is due to be presented by the committee chairperson.
18 other motions are listed, most of them having been already partly debated. Still to be moved by the proposers are:
• Hon Tshuma’s motion calling for Government action on the plight of the families of Hwange Colliery Company workers owed long-overdue wages
• Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga’s motion for all public servants to have duty-free privileges to import vehicles for personal use
• Hon Zvidzai’ motion calling for disaster risk budgeting, strengthened disaster risk management and the creation of a disaster risk fund.
Question Time [Wednesday 21st April] Nineteen questions are listed for Questions with Notice, which will follow the hour set aside for Questions without Notice on matters of Government policy. Questions listed cover such subjects as:
Presidential Scholarship Fund Mr Gonese’s question to the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Hon Mutasa, has been on the Order Paper since early December. It asks the amount of the Fund’s annual budget, why it is administered outside the relevant Ministry, for statistics of beneficiaries, disaggregated by province, and whether it would be prudent to avoid capital outflow by using the fund to upgrade local university infrastructure instead.
Surveyor-General’s Office Hon Mawere’s question asks the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement to outline measures to provide adequate office space and other resources for this department.
Cotton pricing policy Hon Wadyajena question for the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation & Irrigation Development raises the need to ensure sustainable returns to motivate cotton farmers to plant for the coming season. Hon Wadyajena has also put down several other questions raising problems affecting his Gokwe-Nembudziya constituency.
Coming up in the Senate This Week
National Prosecuting Authority Bill This bill has already been passed by the National Assembly without opposition, and awaits its Second Reading in the Senate.
International Investment Agreements The Senate will be asked to approve the same three promotion and reciprocal protection of investments agreements are listed for approval by the National Assembly [see above].
Motions All thirteen motions on the Order Paper have already been partly debated. They include the long-running debate on the President’s speech opening the current session.
Question Time [Thursday 22nd May] Only three questions are listed so far. These include questions on:
Church leaders who abuse congregations – Senator Matiirira asks the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to explain regulations on this subject.
Benefits for new farmers from conservancies – Senator Maluleke asks the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate for Government’s plans for new farmers to benefit from conservancies around Masvingo and other areas.
Increasing Government revenue – Senator Mupfumira asks the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning to say whether he will consider reintroduction of excise duty on fizzy carbonated drinks as a source of revenue.
In Parliament Last Week
Trafficking in Persons Bill A non-adverse PLC report was announced on 13th May, and next day the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs delivered the Second Reading Speech, outlining the purpose and content of the Bill. He took pains to stress its great urgency. At the request of the Opposition Chief Whip debate was then adjourned to allow MPs to hear from the portfolio committee concerned, which has not yet held public hearings on the Bill.
The urgency arises thus: Zimbabwe needs to be compliant with international obligations it has assumed as a participant in the Eastern and Southern African Money Laundering Group and the group’s Financial Action Task Force’s activities against money-laundering and combating of international terrorism. Since early January this compliance has been achieved by the current Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) regulations covering the same ground as the Bill, i.e., SIs 2, 3 and 4/2014. These SIs will expire on 2nd July. The Bill is intended to replace them. So, if the Bill, which is intended to replace the SIs, is not enacted into law by 2nd July, Zimbabwe will then be in breach of its obligations to comply with the agreed FATF measures against money-laundering by traffickers in persons, drugs cartels, terrorists, pirates, etc,. That breach would expose Zimbabwe to a freeze on receiving or making international payments. And that would stop trade between Zimbabwe and the rest of the world, with disastrous results. [Bill and Second Reading Speech available on Veritas website veritaszim.net or from [email protected]]
Parliamentary Privilege Upheld The House condemned disciplinary action taken by Chitungwiza Town Council against employees who had testified about irregularities in council affairs to the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. It approved the committee chairperson’s issuance of a certificate of privilege preventing further council action against the witnesses.
Motions A motion by Hon Mpariwa to take note of the report of the Parliamentary delegation to the Conference, in South Africa, of Women Parliamentarians on Violence against Women and Girls provided an opening for calls from all sides for Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to come up with a Bill for stiffer sentences for rape and general condemnation of the recent mass abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria. After extensive discussion on both Tuesday and Thursday Hon Mpariwa concluded the debate by withdrawing the motion.
Question Time The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning was peppered with questions about the country’s financial problems. The Minister of Industry and Commerce explained the Industrial Development Policy.
Bills The Senate passed the Financial Adjustments Bill through all its stages, but took the opportunity to advise the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning to tighten up on implementation of the Public Finance Management Act.
Motions Like MPs in the National Assembly, Senators also debated the report of the Conference of Women Parliamentarians on Violence against Women and Girls.
Question Time Senator Chiefs asked questions of the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development why arrangements for their toll-free passage through road toll points had not been completed. The Minister of Agriculture gave lengthy answers to several questions about difficulties at the tobacco sales floors, Government preparations for the wheat growing season, and regional efforts to improve African rural infrastructure to boost agricultural production. The Minister of Foreign Affairs gave a full answer to questions asking how the Ministry and the country’s ambassadors are acting to raise funds to implement the Zim Asset policy.
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