BILL WATCH 19/2017
[6th June 2017]
Both Houses of Parliament are due to resume sitting today, 6th June
MDC-T Party-list Seat: Harare Province In the Government Gazette of 2nd June the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] gave public notice of the vacancy caused by the death on 15th April of Hon Ronia Bunjira, one of three MDC-T party-list MPs for Harare Province [GN 282/2017]. In terms of section 39 of the Electoral Act ZEC must now invite the MDC-T to nominate another woman to fill the vacancy. ZEC will then gazette the name of the nominee and allow two weeks for public objections to be lodged. In the absence of valid objection, ZEC will gazette a final notice appointing the party’s nominee an MP. [Note: ZANU-PF holds the other three party-list seats for women in Harare Metropolitan Province.]
Chiwundura By-election: Midlands Province Polling day will be on Saturday 15th July with four candidates, as explained in Bill Watch 18/2017. A ZEC press advertisement today lists 68 polling stations that will be used [link].
Bills Passed by Parliament but not yet Gazetted as Acts
The list remains unchanged from the last bulletin—
- ZEP-RE (Membership of Zimbabwe and Branch Office Agreement) Bill [link] Parliament sent the Bill to the President on 21st April [notified by the Speaker in GN 268/2017 of 28th April].
- Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Bill [link]
- National Competitiveness Commission Bill [link]
Coming up in the National Assembly This Week
Bills are listed for consideration in the following order—
Minerals Exploration and Marketing Corporation Bill [link] First is the Minister of Mines and Mining Development’s motion to restore this Bill to the Order Paper at the stage it had reached when it was superseded at the end of the last Parliamentary session, i.e. having received a non-adverse PLC report and, therefore, ready for the Minister to start the Second Reading stage. When this motion first came up in early May the Minister was asked to justify carrying on with the Bill when the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy had opposed the idea of combining exploration and marketing functions under one statutory body.
Estate Administrators Amendment Bill [link] This Bill is listed for the Second Reading stage, which will start with a speech from the Minister of Finance and Economic Development explaining the need for the Bill and how the Bill will meet that need.
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill [link] The Second Reading debate is due to continue with the presentation of the report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Bill and the public hearings on it held in February.
National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill [link] MPs will continue making their contributions to the Second Reading debate.
Bill awaiting PLC report
Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill The PLC report on this Bill [link] is now due. If a non-adverse report is presented, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development will be able to proceed to the Second Reading stage.
Committee Reports Two new reports are due to be presented — the Public Accounts Committee’s report on the 2010 and 2011 Accounts of Bulawayo City Council, and the Lands and Agriculture Committee’s report on Utilisation of the Brazilian Mechanisation Facility and the Livestock Situation in Zimbabwe.
Mandatory stiff sentencing for rape and sexual violence Hon Majome will request the restoration to the Order Paper of her lapsed motion on this subject.
Motions awaiting presentation The Order Paper indicates at least 15 motions that have not yet been moved. Some of them have been waiting for months – for instance, Hon Mandipaka’s motion on acts of violence by political parties, Hon Chamisa’s on police beating up innocent civilians, Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga’s on fair regional representation in the awarding of government tenders and Hon Chamisa’s on the disappearance of Itai Dzamara.
Question Time [Wednesday]
A build-up of 27 questions includes one from Hon Majome probing the propriety, cost and benefit to electricity consumers of a ZESA advert congratulating the President on his hosting of last December’s ZANU-PF party congress. And one from Hon D. Tshuma asking the Minister of Home Affairs to state Government policy on the issuance of primary documents to those affected during the Gukurahundi period.
Coming up in the Senate This Week
Land Commission Bill [link] This is the only Bill currently on the Senate’s agenda. The Senate has made no progress on it since the end of March, when the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] reported adversely on the amendments to the Bill made by the Senate on 29th March on the motion of Senator Chief Mtshane [see Bill Watches 14 and 15]. The carefully-drafted amendments were designed to allow chiefs to play a role in the work of the Land Commission. The PLC said this would be contrary to the Constitution; it expressed the opinion that the Constitution limits the jurisdiction of chiefs to Communal Land while providing for the Land Commission to have jurisdiction over other land. The Senator Chiefs contested this, saying [correctly] the Constitution provides for them to have jurisdiction over people in other areas, such as resettlement areas. At that point it was decided that Senator Chiefs would sit down with PLC members in an attempt to resolve their differences. Two months now having passed, Senators will expect to hear whether the PLC has decided to withdraw or confirm its adverse report.
Unless the PLC withdraws the report, Senators will proceed to discuss the report and decide whether to approve it or reject it – a decision that should be reached on the merits of the legal arguments for and against the PLC’s report, regardless of policy considerations. As the Bill is a Government Bill, the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, who introduced the Bill – and did not oppose the amendments made by the Senate – must be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to the report before the Senate makes its decision [Constitution, Fifth Schedule, paragraph 8(5)]. If the report is approved, the Senate must not pass the Bill as long as it contains the amendments [paragraph 8(4)] – unless the Minister successfully applies to the Constitutional Court for a declaration that the amendments would, if enacted, be in accordance with the Constitution [paragraph 8(6), which requires any such appeal to be lodged within 14 days].
[A document available on the Veritas website [link] contains the PLC’s adverse report, PLC chairperson Hon Samukange’s explanation of the report in the Senate on 4th April, an extract from Senator Chief Charumbira’s contribution indicating why Senator Chiefs believe the PLC erred, and the text of the Senate’s amendments. Also available is the text of the Bill [link], annotated to show the amendments made by the National Assembly before the Bill was transmitted to the Senate.]
All eleven motions listed are for “adjourned debate”, meaning that the motions have been moved by proposers and seconders and that debate by Senators is under way or that Senators have already had their say and are now waiting for Ministerial responses indicating Government’s attitude on points raised or for debate to be wound up by the proposers. The motions cover a broad range: the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage; violence in Zimbabwe; the need to boost Zimbabwe’s low population; alignment of the Electoral Act to the Constitution; the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education’s action on School Development Association/Committee funds; the problem of statelessness in Zimbabwe; and three Thematic Committee reports – on Sustainable Development Goal No. 3 [health for all], on HIV and AIDS in Institutions of Higher Learning and on Early Child Marriages.
Question Time [Thursday]
32 questions are listed, including Senator Mashavakure’s questions for the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on (1) the state of the Sovereign Wealth Fund and (2) the work of the Smith Commission of Inquiry into the conversion process of pension and insurance benefits after dollarization. The Sovereign Wealth Fund Act of 2014 is on the Veritas website [link]; it came into force on 26th June 2015.
List of Statutory Instruments of 2017 to 31st May
This list, compiled by Veritas, is now available on the Veritas website [link]. It presents the statutory instruments gazetted this year up to and including 31st May, arranged in numerical order. As it takes the form of a MS Word table, the list can also be sorted according to enabling Act, thereby letting the reader to see at a glance all statutory instruments made under a particular Act.
Government Gazette 2nd June
Collective bargaining agreement: Tobacco Industry Code of Conduct – SI 70/2017 gazettes this new Code of Conduct [link].
VAT – Fiscalised Recording of Taxable Transactions Regulations The principal regulations [SI 104/2010] require suppliers of equipment for the fiscalised recording of taxable transactions to obtain product approval from the Minister of Finance and Economic Development through ZIMRA. SI 71/2017 [link], the ninth amendment to the principal regulations, caters for approval of upgrades to such equipment.
Customs duty suspension for fertilisers SI 73/2017 [link], backdated to 28th April and effective until 31st December only, re-states the allocations of different types of fertilisers for the suspension of duty, replacing the allocations specified in SI 55/2017 gazetted on 28th April. The overall allocation is not changed, but there is now an allocation for Cereal Blend fertilizer.
Customs duty suspension for mining imports SI 72/2017 [link] is the latest of many targeted 3-year suspensions designed to facilitate mining development. It only applies to Bubi Small Scale Miners Association in two specified mining locations.
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