BILL WATCH 35/2018
[29th October 2018]
Both Houses of Parliament will Resume Sitting on Tuesday 30th October
The Senate and the National Assembly will sit on Tuesday 30th October for the first time since they last met on 11th October. This bulletin summarises what happened during the sittings from 9th to 11th October and outlines what is on the Order Paper for this week’s sittings [see end of bulletin].
In Parliament 9th to 11th October
MPs Designated as Members of Pan-African Parliament
The Committee on Standing Rules and Orders [see below] has designated the following five MPs to be Parliament’s delegates to the Pan-African Parliament: Hon. Chief F. Z. Charumbira (Leader of the Delegation); Hon. B. Rwodzi; Hon. P. Togarepi; Hon. S. Mathe; and Hon. Dr. T. Mashakada
Members of Parliamentary Committees
Committee on Standing Rules and Orders
The composition of Parliament’s Committee on Standing Rules and Orders [CSRO] was announced in both Houses on Thursday 4th October. The committee is a mix of ex officio members, appointed members and backbench members of Parliament elected by their peers, as dictated by section 151 of the Constitution.
The CSRO is Parliament’s most important committee. Its purpose is supervising the administration of Parliament, formulating Standing Orders, considering and deciding all matters concerning Parliament and exercising other functions conferred or imposed on it by the Constitution or Standing Orders or any other law. These “other functions” include the appointment of the Parliamentary Legal Committee [Constitution, section 152] and the appointment of Senate Thematic Committees and National Assembly Portfolio Committees in terms of Standing Orders.
The committee is chaired by the Speaker of the National Assembly, deputised by the President of the Senate. The full list of members is available on the Veritas website [link].
Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]
This, too, is an important committee. It is responsible for examining all Bills going through Parliament to ensure consistency with the Constitution before they are finally passed. It performs the same function for statutory instruments only after they have already become law, but has the power to insist on their repeal if inconsistent with the Constitution.
The members of the PLC were announced on 11th October: Hon Jonathan Samukange (chairperson) [ZANU PF]; Hon Misheck Mataranyika [ZANU PF]; Hon Maxwell Mavhunga [MDC-A]; Hon Cuthbert Mpame [ZANU PF]; Hon Kucaca Phulu [MDC-A]. All are members of the National Assembly, all are male, all are lawyers. Mr Samukange chaired the PLC in the last Parliament. The other members are fresh faces.
Public Accounts Committee, Senate Thematic Committees and National Assembly Portfolio Committees
The chairpersons and members of the five Senate Thematic Committees, and the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee and its nineteen Portfolio Committees were also announced on 11th October. See the Veritas
No Bills were listed for consideration by either House.
Proceedings in the Senate
The following motions were introduced by their proposers and seconders followed by contributions from other Senators. The motions call on Government:
· to come up with a national drug policy and legislative framework that is grounded in science, public health and human rights to effectively minimize the effects of drug use within communities [Senator Timveos];
· to engage in dialogue with vendors and their associations in an effort to finding a lasting solution to the problems of vending and to construct proper vending stalls at easily accessible sites [Senator Chabuka];
· to urgently, within two months, bring in a Bill to provide for Devolution to Provincial Councils, to abolish the posts of Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs, to swear members of provincial councils into office immediately and allow them to function and to provide budgetary support for provincial councils [Senator Mwonzora];
· to urgently find ways of improving the cash situation in Zimbabwe [Senator Shoko].
In a major speech Hon Mashakada [MDC-A] introduced his motion on the economic challenges facing Zimbabwe. It calls on the Government to immediately bring sanity to the financial and liquidity situation by: scrapping the bond note and strengthening the regime of multiple currencies; returning to fiscal consolidation and the pursuit of a fiscal balance; resolving the sovereign debt crisis; attending to ghost workers and a crippling wage bill; and accelerating State Enterprises Reform.
National Assembly on 10th October
The Speaker announced receipt of apologies from ten Ministers or Deputy Ministers, and the absence of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, who was out of the country on official business.
Birth certificates and admission to schools The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education said it is not Government policy to refuse learners without birth certificates registration in schools, but emphasized that parents should strive to ensure that such learners at some point get the documentation that is needed because those documents will be required for the writing of examinations especially at Grade 7 and later on.
Fuel queues The Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development was grilled at length, but insisted that there was enough fuel already in storage in the country, although there had been a problem over foreign currency to pay for it before it could be released from storage and distributed.
Maize production figures 2014-2018 and grain reserves The Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Hon Haritatos, gave figures for tonnages produced and yield per hectare, showing 2018 to have been the best year of the four. He also assured the House that the country had grain reserves of 500 000 tonnes in place, enough to avoid anyone going hungry.
Who was responsible for Army deployment on 1st August? The Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs avoided answering this question by pointing to the establishment of the current Commission of Inquiry with a mandate to report in three months, and existing litigation on the question.
Section 210 of the Constitution – when will Government present a Bill for an independent mechanism for complaints against security services? In a written answer the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs said, “This is a matter of great significance to the security agencies. To this end, our legal officers are working on the principles of the Bill and a draft Bill for the consideration of Cabinet Committee on Legislation.”
Senate on 11th October
Arresting ex-President Mugabe for spreading falsehoods? In answer to a question asking when Mr Mugabe would be arrested and prosecuted for spreading the falsehood that $15 billion had been stolen from diamond production, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage stoutly defended the right to freedom of expression, claiming that nobody in Zimbabwe is arrested for saying anything, “whether it is falsehood or truth, because we have freedom of expression as Zimbabweans”.
Mutoko North By-Election Candidates
The nomination court sitting in Marondera on 12th October produced three candidates to contest this by-election: Edson Mugoma [NCA], Boniface Mushore [MDC-A] and Rambidzai Nyabote [ZANU-PF].
Polling day will be Saturday 24th November, as stipulated by the Presidential proclamation calling the by-election, which was triggered by the election of the sitting MP, Hon Chinomona, as President of the Senate.
Coming up in Parliament This Week
There are, as yet, no Bills listed for presentation. The current status of Bills vis-à-vis the Legislative Agenda is outlined in Bill Watch 33/2018 of 23rd October [link]
Debate is due to continue on the motion in response to the President’s speech opening the session and spelling out the legislative agenda, and on the four motions introduced earlier in the month, mentioned above. There are no new motions listed.
Several new motions are listed:
- calling on the Government to urgently comply with the gender equality provisions of the Constitution [Hon. Biti]
- asking that the House take note pf the Report of the Regional Workshop to promote ratification and implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention, held in Tanzania in mid-September [Hon Paradza]
- condemning of the State authorities’ attacks on vendors, demanding alternative income-generating infrastructure for vendors, and the crafting and implementation of a national employment policy [Hon Mutseyami]
- the need for a national policy on persons living with disability, aiming at monthly social grants and provision of adequate amenities [Hon Toffa]
- for the Parliamentary Legal Committee and the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to conduct a review of existing electoral laws and recommend reforms aimed at creating an environment for holding free, fair, just and credible elections [Hon Chikwinya]
- a call on Government to urgently decentralize to local authorities the collection of vehicle licence fees and road user charges currently collected by ZINARA [Hon Mushoriwa].