Bill Watch 11/2024 of 31st March [In Parliament 19th to 21st March & On the Agenda This Coming Week

BILL WATCH 11/2024 [31st March 2024]


Parliament Will Sit Again on Tuesday 2nd April

Parliament sat on Tuesday 19th, Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st March.  Both Houses then adjourned until Tuesday 2nd April, the day after the Easter holiday weekend.

No Bills Considered 19th to 21st March

No Bills were brought up for consideration during the National Assembly’s sittings on Tuesday 19th, Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st March.  The status of Bills, therefore, remains the same as stated in Bill Watch 8/2024 [link].

Specifically, no announcement was made about receipt of reports of the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] of the three Bills it has been considering since their First Readings on the 7th March:

  • Criminal Laws Amendment (Protection of Children and Young Persons) Bill [link];
  • Administration of Estates Amendment Bill [link];
  • Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [link];

and there was no further consideration by the House of the PLC’s adverse report on the:

  • Death Penalty Abolition Bill [link].

The Senate had no Bills on its Order Paper last week – because it had received none from the National Assembly.

Other Business in the National Assembly Last Week 

Matters of national interest raised by MPs under the one-minute rule

On Tuesday 19th March Hon Bajila reminded the House that 16th March had been the 11th anniversary of the Constitutional Referendum in 2013 leading to the enactment of the Constitution; he called on the House to enact legislation to ensure that the sphere of Provincial Government is properly constituted  as envisaged by the Constitution, and that other delayed alignments should be considered.  The Speaker suggested asking the responsible Ministers during Question Time to speed up enactment of the Provincial Councils Act and other legislation.

Motion agreed to

Motion on drug and substance abuse by youth nationwide  Hon Mapiki’s motion was finally put and agreed to on Thursday 21st March, after the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Development and Vocational Training, Hon Machakaire, had briefly outlined the Government’s response to the admitted problem of drug and substance abuse by youth, including the setting-up by the President of an Inter-Ministerial Task Force headed by the Ministry of Defence, and the various policy measures being followed by his Ministry.  Hon Mapiki thanked the Minister and MPs who had contributed positively to the debate on his motion, which was then approved unanimously.

New motions introduced

Need to enact law providing security of tenure for all land, including Communal Land  On 19th March Hon C. Hlatywayo’s motion, seconded by Hon Mushoriwa (also of CCC), expresses concern that “indigenous people are losing land without compensation in the name of Public Private Partnerships created to pursue development” and calls for the enactment of a “law providing security of tenure to all the land, including communal land, in line with section 292 of the Constitution”.  He recommended following the example of Malawi, with its Customary Land (Development) Act.  On completion of his speech, Hon Hlatywayo replied “Yes” to the Speaker’s question whether he thought Communal Land was agricultural land for the purposes of section 292 of the Constitution.  The Speaker said that he was incorrect, because section 72, as read with sections 288 and 292, excludes Communal Land from the definition of “agricultural land” – and ruled subsequent contributors to the debate should bear in mind that the motion could not refer to Communal Land.  The debate continued on 21st March and looks likely to continue.

Need for Law Protecting deposits in Banks and other Financial Institutions  On 20th March Hon Jere, just in time to avoid its removal from the Order Paper, finally got his chance to introduce his motion on this subject, which alleges poor corporate governance in the banking sector, that caused huge losses to investors and depositors.  In a long speech, which lasted from the end of Question Time until the House adjourned at 5.58 pm, Hon Jere explained the problem as he saw it: although the Deposit Protection Corporation (DPC) has suggested that there are glaring gaps in the existing legislation about bank failures, and despite the passing of the Banking Amendment Act in 2016, there has been no progress on amendments to the DPC Act since a draft amendment Bill was prepared by the DPC and other stakeholders (providing for a separate depositor-preference insolvency regime) and the Cabinet’s approval of the principles of the Bill in August 2020.  Hon Jere said this is due to challenges in the Attorney-General’s Office’s drafting unit.

Adjourned debates on motions already presented

Vote of thanks to the President for his Address on Opening of Tenth  Parliament  As previous bulletins have observed, Ministers have now reached the stage of responding to points made by MPs during the debate on  this motion.  On 19th March it was the turn of the Ministers of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage and Primary and Secondary Education the Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to inform the House what their Ministries would be doing during the months ahead.  Further Ministerial responses are expected.

In the Senate Last Week

New motion introduced

CCC Motion on Delay in enacting a Devolution Law for Functionality of Provincial Governments  On 20th March Senator Zvidzai of CCC presented his motion that (a) the Senate put pressure on the Executive for the functionality of Provincial Governments in line with section 265(3) of the Constitution; (b) that the 100 Provincial Councillors elected at the 2023 Harmonised Elections be sworn in, inducted and enabled to participate in national development as envisaged by the Constitution.  He was seconded by Senator Ritta Ndlovu.

Adjourned debates on motions already presented

Motion on the plight of widows in Zimbabwe who are routinely evicted from their homes by relatives  On 19th and 20th March this debate on a motion by Senator Tsomondo drew several useful contributions.  On 20th March Senator Phulu, a legal practitioner, said the existing laws were adequate to protect widows, but called for education of women (and men) about the existing laws.  He recommended that the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs’ Legal Aid Directorate should have a special department for inheritance matters.  Senator Mupfumira called for husbands to be encouraged to make wills.

In Parliament Next Week

  1. International Agreements for Approval by both Houses

Section 327(2)(a) of the Constitution provides that an international treaty concluded by or under the authority of the President does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament (and this means both the National Assembly and the Senate).

The same four international treaties appear on the Order Papers of both Houses for Tuesday 2nd April under motions for approval of their ratification by Zimbabwe.  The motions will be moved by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare:

International Convention on the Protection of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families *

This convention came into force on 1st July 2003.

Then there are three Protocols to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights [link].  None of the protocols are yet in force because to date they all have not been ratified by a sufficient number of member States of the African Union, which is 15 out of 55.  The protocols are as follows, with the number of ratifications to date :

Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa *

Adopted 31st January 2016.  Ratifications to date 12, including several SADC countries.

Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa *

Adopted 29th January 2018.  Ratifications to date 12, including several SADC countries.

Protocol on the Rights of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security *

Adopted 6th February 2022.   Ratification  to date 0.

Zimbabwe appears to have joined those states eager for the coming into force of the Protocols.

*  This symbol indicates that we intend to post the texts concerned on our website as soon as possible.

  1. National Assembly

New motions   include: a take-note motion by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Report of the Judicial Service Commission for the Year 2023;  Hon Mhuri’s motion, seconded by Hon Togarepi, calling on the Government to assign responsibility for a National Cadastre System to the Zimbabwe Geospatial and Space Agency as an cost-effective alternative to having separate Electronic Agriculture Cadastre and Mining Cadastre Systems administered by two Ministries; and Hon Gumede’s motion, seconded by Hon Mahlangu, calling on the Government to declare a state of emergency and use other methods (including engaging civic society and other NGOs) to save a humanitarian crisis the current effects of climate change in sub-Saharan Africa.  These, according to the motion, have affected Zimbabwe very adversely, particularly the El Nino-induced current drought, which has reduced prospects of any form of harvest to unprecedented low levels of anticipation.

  1. Senate

New motions   As in the National Assembly these include a take-note motion by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Report of the Judicial Service Commission for the Year 2023 which we hope to have available on our website [see below] soon.

Post published in: Featured

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *