Eight Portfolio Committees Resume Work

BILL WATCH

PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES SERIES 11/2020

Eight Portfolio Committees Resume Work

There is One Open Meeting on Monday 1st June

Speaker’s Announcement on Committee Meetings and Public Hearings

Committee meetings

On 19th May the Speaker announced to the MPs present for the very short sitting that eight portfolio committees that had direct responsibility and oversight on the Corona Virus outbreak had been selected to implement the responsibilities.  The eight portfolio committees concerned are the committees on:

  1. Youth, Sport and Recreation
  2. Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry
  3. Primary and Secondary Education
  4. Higher and Tertiary Education
  5. Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services
  6. Mines and Mining Development
  7. Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services
  8. Transport and Infrastructural Development.

These eight committees will all be meeting on Monday 1st June, but only one of the meetings will be open to attendance by the members of the public [see below for agenda, time and venue].

Arrangements for other committees to function will be announced in due course.

Public hearings

Also on 19th May the Speaker announced that arrangements for public hearings by committees were being put in place to ensure that the conduct of public business would be in accordance with laid down regulations.

Open Meeting Monday 1st June at 10 am

Portfolio Committee: Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services

Oral evidence from the  Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage  on the management of border posts in the light of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

Venue: National Assembly Chamber.

Please note:  Parliament has warned that due to current restrictions on gatherings in light of COVID 19, attendance at open committee meetings will be limited. 

Members of the public may attend this meeting – but as observers only, not as participants, i.e. they may observe and listen but not speak. If attending, please use the entrance to Parliament on Kwame Nkrumah Ave between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Please note that IDs must be produced.  Masks and social distancing will be required.

The details given in this bulletin are based on the latest information from Parliament. But, as there are sometimes last-minute changes to the meetings schedule, persons wishing to attend should avoid disappointment by checking with the committee clerk that the meeting concerned is still on and open to the public. Parliament’s telephone numbers are Harare 2700181 and 2252940/1.

Reminder: Members of the public, including Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, can at any time send written submissions to Parliamentary committees by email addressed to [email protected] or by letter posted to the Clerk of Parliament, P.O. Box 298, Causeway, Harare or delivered at Parliament’s Kwame Nkrumah Avenue entrance in Harare.

What will Committees be Doing in the Closed Meetings?

Youth National Venture Capacity Fund

The Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sport and Recreation will be deliberating on evidence received previously from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development on the administration of this fund.

Forest Amendment Bill

The Portfolio Committee on Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry will be considering its draft report on this Bill, for presentation during the Second Reading debate on the Bill.  The Bill is available on the Veritas website [linkand is item 5 on the National Assembly Order Paper for Tuesday 2nd June.  Our comments on the Bill in Bill Watch 31/2020 are repeated here:

This Bill, amongst other amendments to the Forest Act, has a clause [clause 12] amending section 78 of the Act, which provides for what the Act calls “major offences”.  For setting of fires without authority in both State and private forests, clause 12 removes the option of a minimum fine from the existing mandatory minimum sentencing provisions of section 78(2) – this makes a minimum prison sentence of 5 years or, in less serious cases, 1 year, mandatory.  For fires left unattended on other land the levels of the existing mandatory fines in section 78(3) are reduced without changing the existing prison sentences.

Clause 12 also proposes adding a new section 78(4), which will oblige “the Court” [presumably a court sentencing someone for contravening section 78(1), (2) or (3)?] to ”take into account such aggravating factors as loss of human life, livestock, wildlife and other property”.  It then adds an incomprehensible proviso that “penalties for such offences” [which offences?] “shall apply as is provided for under the Parks and Wildlife Act … or the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act … whichever is greater”.  MPs will certainly need to demand a full explanation of this puzzling proviso.

There are other measures too, for instance, to decentralise to forestry and environmental officers decisions on such matters as the adequacy of fireguards.  The Bill also includes provisions designed to ensure the Forestry Commission Board includes persons with special qualifications in forestry, environmental planning and management and ecology, and that its membership and the staffing of the Commission is gender-balanced.

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

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