BILL WATCH 75/2021
[24th November 2021]
In Parliament 9th to 23rd November
Coming up in Parliament 24th and 25th November
The bulk of this bulletin outlines what Parliament did during the period 9th to 18th November and yesterday, 23rd November and what business members of Parliament are facing for the rest of this week, which includes the presentation of next year’s Budget.. First, however, we note some preliminary items.
The National Budget Speech
The 2022 National Budget will be presented in the National Assembly on Thursday 25th November by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon Mthuli Ncube. He will start his speech at 2.45 pm. The Budget Speech will be broadcast live on ZBC TV and radio and live streamed on Parliament’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/parliamentofzim/
PVO Amendment Bill’s Present Status
Veritas has been inundated with requests for information about progress on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill – far too many for individual replies. Veritas is monitoring developments on the Bill and will issue bulletins as soon as anything relevant occurs. Relevant documents will be posted promptly on our website www.veritaszim.net .
The Bill was gazetted on 5th November. As two weeks have now passed since then, the Bill now qualifies for introduction in the National Assembly in terms of Standing Order 142(1) by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, who is the responsible Minister. But the Minister has not yet given notice of his intention to introduce the Bill, so it is unlikely to be introduced this week. Once it has been introduced, it will have to be referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] for a report on its consistency with the Constitution – and the PLC’s report may well be delayed in view of the inconsistencies with the Constitution already pointed out by Veritas in Bill Watch 74/2021 [link]. Moreover, Parliament is almost certain to be concentrating on Budget business from now until the end of the year – and is customarily in recess from before Christmas until late January or early February.
Labour Amendment Bill Gazetted on 19th November
The Labour Amendment Bill [link] was published in the Government Gazette on Friday 19th November. As explained in the detailed memorandum included in it, the lengthy Bill aims at aligning the Labour Act, not only with the Constitution but also the various International Labour Organisation [ILO] Conventions which Zimbabwe is bound. A separate bulletin will analyse the Bill’s contents.
ZEC Gazettes List of Deceased Voters to be Removed from Voters Roll
In a Government Gazette Extraordinary dated 22nd November the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] has published General Notice 3379 listing the names and particulars of 22 656 voters that it believes have died and should be removed from the roll; the notice is on the Veritas website [link]. Those voters on the list who are still alive have until close of business on Monday 29th November 2021 [seven days after the gazetting of the notice] to appeal to ZEC by completing the form attached to the General Notice, which can also be downloaded [link] on our website, and lodging the completed form with ZEC, either at its head office in Harare or any of ZEC’s Provincial Offices.
Note: The General Notice [link] is a an easy-to-use searchable PDF document. The list is grouped by constituency name in alphabetical order, starting with Beitbridge East and ending with Zvishavane Runde; under each constituency, deceased voters are listed in alphabetical order by surname.
In Parliament [9th to 18th November and Yesterday 23rd November]
Bills [both Houses]
Public Finance Management Amendment Bill [link] The Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]’s non-adverse report on this Bill was announced in the National Assembly on Tuesday 9th November. This cleared the way for the Second Reading stage to begin. But no further progress has been made.
Two Bills presented On Thursday 18th November the following two Bills were presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in the National Assembly, received their First Readings and were referred to the PLC for its report on their consistency with the Constitution:
Insurance Bill [link] – a Bill to regulate the carrying on of insurance business in Zimbabwe and to repeal and replace the existing Insurance Act.
Insurance and Pensions Commission Amendment Bill [link] – a Bill to amend the Insurance and Pensions Commission Act.
These Bills are related to the Pension and Provident Funds Bill [link], which was passed by the National Assembly with amendments and is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate; together they form a package to overhaul the regulation of the insurance and pensions sector.
Two Bills Given Second Reading by National Assembly Yesterday, 23rd November, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs wound up the Second Reading debates on the Guardianship of Minors Amendment Bill and Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill [ZICC Bill], clearing the way for the Committee Stages to start. The Minister has given notice that he will be moving one amendment to the ZICC Bill which will add a paragraph to clause 13(2), to provide for the Commission to delay its entertainment of a complaint where the action complained of is already the subject of an “internal disciplinary process” by the security service concerned pending the conclusion of the internal process within a reasonable period. On the Guardianship of Minors Amendment Bill the Minister expressed reservations about the amendments suggested in the Portfolio Committee’s report but indicated his willingness to be convinced during the Committee Stage.
Other Bills The two Bills on which progress was made yesterday, are Bills from the previous session waiting to be finalised after having been restored to the Order Papers in both Houses – two in the National Assembly and two in the Senate. Until yesterday’s National Assembly sitting, all six Bills have been routinely “stood over” by vote of the Houses while other business was tackled instead. [For the titles of the Bills concerned, please refer to Coming up this Week below.] Perhaps the problem was that Ministers were not yet ready to continue with the Bills or had other pressing duties, because both Houses seemed to have time on their hands. [From 9th to 18th November, for instance, the National Assembly, for instance, seemed able to adjourn early on at least two of the six afternoons on which it sat; the Senate, with its more leisurely starting time of 2.30 pm, managed to adjourn either a little before or after 4 pm on all occasions.]
Motions in the National Assembly
Motion on President Mnangagwa’s SONA of 7th October The only motion debated was the motion in response to the President’s State of the Nation address [SONA] on the occasion of the opening of the Fourth Session on 7th October. MPs contributed to this debate during all six sittings during the period 9th to 18th November – perhaps to avoid the embarrassing situation that arose during the Third Session when this debate continued until nearly the end of the session.
Third Session motions restored to the Order Paper The House approved motions by Hon Shamu for the restoration of two motions on reports of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade which had been superseded by the end of the Third Session – reporting on (1) a Virtual Conference held with the committee’s Chinese counterpart and (2) the 2020 Budget Performance Reports of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Annual Report of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission  On 23rd November the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development presented a motion requesting the House to take note of this report.
Report on Hatcliffe Extension Residents Association Petition On 23rd November Hon Chikukwa presented the report of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works, National Housing and Social Amenities on this petition, which raises lack of requisite infrastructural development, multiple billing and security of tenure. Several members contributed to the ensuing debate, which will continue.
Motions in the Senate
Motion on President Mnangagwa’s SONA of 7th October Senators continued their contributions to the debate on this motion throughout the sittings during the period covered by this bulletin – except on the two Thursdays, when they adjourned immediately Question Time ended..
Condolence motion for the late Senator Rejoice Timire The late Senator was one of two Senators representing disabled persons and was herself disabled. Senator Mwonzora, in his contribution to the debate on the immense service made by Senator Timire to Parliament and to the nation, pleaded for the “excellent” Government policy on disabled persons to be enshrined in law.
Motions on (1) grave and rapid environmental degradation and (2) calling for a sound road network On Wednesday 17th November Senators continued debating these motions, both moved previously by Senator Chirongoma. On environmental degradation caused by miners and veld fires, Senator Chimbudzi suggested that the chiefs should be empowered to sort things out. If a chief told his subjects to sell their gold to Fidelity Printers, she said, they would comply; chiefs would also be able to prevent veld fires and destruction of forests and ensure miners left no open pits.
Gender-based violence [GBV] On 23rd November, appropriately anticipating the coming 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence [25th November to 10th December], Senator Chimbudzi moved a motion calling on the Executive to do more to curb GBV by among other interventions (1) deploying more GBV mobile services in districts and provinces and (2) building more “safe houses”.
Senators spent most of the rest of the afternoon debating this motion and continuing the debates on the need for a sound road network and children in prisons with their incarcerated mothers.
Coming up in the National Assembly on 24th and 25th November
Presentation of 2022 National Budget: Thursday 25th November [see times and broadcasting details above]
For Committee Stage
For continuation of the Second Reading debate
Copper Control Amendment Bill [link]
Police Amendment Bill [link] – a Veritas commentary is available [link]
For the start of the Second Reading stage
Public Finance Management Amendment Bill [link]
Implementation of Devolution Hon Chikukwa is due to present the report on this subject by the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works, National Housing and Social Amenities.
Gender-based violence Appropriately anticipating the coming 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence [25th November to 10th December] Hon Kwaramba has a new motion on the Order Paper which calls on the Executive to do more to curb GBV by among other interventions (1) deploying more GBV mobile services in districts and provinces and (2) building more “safe houses”. [GBV]
Coming up in the Senate on 24th and 25th November
There are only two Bills on the Order Paper, both carried over from the previous session:
Marriages Bill [link] [please note that this link is to the Bill as amended by the National Assembly and transmitted to the Senate, i.e., it is the one that Senators should have before them when the Committee Stage resumes] The Bill is less than halfway through its Committee Stage. Senator Chief Charumbira has had his proposed amendments on the Order Paper since 9th November; the amendments are to clauses 16 [Solemnisation of customary marriages], 17 [Unregistered customary unions] and 42 [Civil partnerships]. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has had his proposed amendments to the same clauses on the Order Paper for months now.
Will this be the week in which the long-running stand-off between Senators and the Minister is at last resolved? The competing amendments create a great deal of scope for confusion and call for skilled chairing of the resumed Committee Stage. Another point to be made is that any amendments made by the Senate will require the agreement of the National Assembly.
Pension and Provident Funds Bill [link] – Senators are waiting for the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to start the Second Reading stage of this Bill with his introductory speech.
Motions previously moved [see above] will no doubt continue to be debated.