BILL WATCH 52/2020
[29th July 2020]
The National Assembly has Adjourned to 25th August
Business of Parliament Remains Suspended until Further Notice
National Assembly Meets, Adjourns until Tuesday 25th August
The National Assembly met yesterday, 28th July, the date to which it had adjourned at its sitting on the 16th July. Yesterday’s sitting lasted only five minutes, with the Deputy Speaker, Hon Tsitsi Gezi, presiding.
Death of Hon Masango Matambanadzo
Hon Gezi announced the death earlier the same day of Hon Masango Matambanadzo, National Patriotic Front [NPF]* MP for KweKwe Central constituency.
Adjournment until Tuesday 25th August
As expected following Monday’s notice from the Clerk of Parliament [see Bill Watch 49/2020], the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs moved that the House should adjourn until Tuesday 25th August, explaining his motion as follows:
“Madam Speaker, earlier this week we have had some of the Hon. Members as well as some staff members testing positive for COVID-19 and in view of that, after consulting both Parliament Administration and His Excellency, we decided that we have to adjourn the House for the purposes of housekeeping, disinfection and also monitoring the trends in the pandemic to the 25th of August this year. So I move that we adjourn the House to the 25th of August, 2020.”
The motion was adopted, thus ending the sitting.
Note: This token sitting was to comply with section 146 of the Constitution, which requires the National Assembly itself to decide on the timing of its recesses and sittings. Although only 21 MPs were present – far fewer than a quorum – the proceedings and the vote to adjourn to 25th August are nevertheless valid because no MP raised any objection to the proceedings taking place in the absence of a quorum. This was understandable in the circumstances.
A similar token Senate sitting can be expected on Tuesday 4th August, the date to which the Senate adjourned when it sat last week, before the developments of the last few days.
Contact with Parliament
Until a further announcement is made by the Clerk of Parliament, anyone intending to submit any documentation to Parliament or seeking information from Parliament is requested to use the following email addresses: email@example.com; or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the Senate Last Week
Only the Senate sat last week. At the end of its third sitting of the week on Thursday 23rd July it adjourned until Tuesday 4th August.
Tuesday 21st July
At the beginning of the afternoon’s sitting the President of the Senate encouraged Senators, fresh from two week’s recess, to raise and debate matters of interest that had come to their notice during the recess. In spite of this pep-talk, the sitting lasted less than an hour and was spent on a handful of motions already partly debated, with adjourned debates on all other motions being further adjourned one after the other without debate.
Motion calling for the abolition of the death penalty
Two Senators made contributions to the debate, both supporting the motion. Senator Chief Mathupula drew attention to the incongruity of having the death sentence as part of our law when the philosophy of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correction Service is that prisoners are incarcerated to be rehabilitated. In his contribution, Senator Dr Mavetera argued that the provisions for the imposition of the death penalty are discriminatory, both by design and in their effect on the poorer and more marginalised members of the community; that the death penalty has not been proved to deter individuals from killing others; and that the penalty is alien to Zimbabwean traditional culture, having been introduced into the country as a colonial institution.
Motion on Report on Third World Forum on Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]
This forum was held in Bali, Indonesia and debate on the motion on it is continuing..
Motion on Report on Implementation of Indigenisation in the Mining Sector
Senator Mhona, whose take-note motion this was, wound up the debate and the report was adopted by the Senate.
As soon as the reports are available they will be posted on the Veritas website.
Wednesday 22nd July
Marriages Bill – Second Reading debate continues
Senators Chinake and Mokoetsi echoed previous contributions to the debate on this Bill by calling for provision for lobola to be included. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, although present, did not report back to Senators about his discussions on the Bill with the Council of Chiefs; instead he suggested a further adjournment of the debate to allow the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to make a statement to the Senate on the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review delivered in the National Assembly the previous week.
Statement by Minister of Finance – Summary of Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review
The full text of the Minister’s summary and his responses to Senators’ requests for clarification on certain points is available on the Veritas website [link]. Two points of interest were his remarks on:
- cash support for vulnerable people The Minister said the Government’s target had been one million people, which had not yet been reached. He invited people feeling the pressure to come forward and register with the Department of Social Welfare, and the promised $300 per month would be waiting for them [ZWL $300 is the equivalent of about US $3.70 at the current official exchange rate – not enough to buy even one 10 kg bag of mealie meal in a supermarket]. There is, he said, a budget of ZWL $2.4 billion for citizens who are vulnerable. When pressed for details of who qualifies and how to register, the Minister suggested that Senators should wait for a statement from the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Note: It has not yet been announced whether the last announced distribution to vulnerable people has been successfully carried out.
- the foreign currency auction system so far “We have introduced our auction system – it is a Dutch auction system which means that you come in and bid. If you bid too high, we cut you off, if you bid too low, we cut you off but there is a range of bids and we honour those bids and we are able to sell you foreign currency at whatever level you have bid within that range. I am happy to say that it has started off well and we have done five auctions so far and the last one was yesterday which rate was about 72.1 and we sold foreign currency to the tune of about US$14. 5 million or so. For the first time, we saw participation from exporters and that is what we want. It should not be just the Central Bank offloading resources on to the market but we want the market itself to offload its own resources into the market so that the market begins to take over the leadership. But, what the auction has done is to give leadership to the foreign exchange market and we have seen some stability and even convergence.”
Thursday 23rd July
Question Time The first question came from Senator Mwonzora and concerned the recent arrests of Mr Chin’ono and Mr Ngarivhume. He said both had been critical of Government for years without being arrested. He challenged the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to explain the coincidence that both Mr Chin’ono and Mr Ngarivhume had only been arrested after recently speaking openly and fearlessly about corruption, which he suggested showed that the Government is not seriously committed to the fight against corruption. In reply, Hon Ziyambi rejected this suggestion, and said the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission [ZACC] had already been investigating the corruption case concerned and that arrests of those involved had followed. [This is not very clear as the arrested had been talking of corruption in general not just one case.] He declined to discuss the Chin’ono and Ngarivhume arrests on the ground that, as their cases were already before the courts, it would be improper and contrary to the separation of powers doctrine for Parliament to debate it. [Comment; expulsion of MDC Alliance parliamentarians is also before the courts and yet action has been taken on them by Parliament.]
There were many questions for the Acting Minister of Health and Child Care, particularly from Senator Dr Mavetera who queried the recent Health Service Board decision to relieve the CEOs of Harare, Parirenyatwa and Chitungwiza, saying the Board was the real cause of most problems within the Ministry. The Acting Minister, Prof Murwira, replied that it was really the whole health system that needs reconstruction or reconfiguration, to move away from the present colonial model, under which Zimbabwe imports nearly everything needed for the health system “from the metropole”, including products that could be manufactured locally – the example the Minister gave was saline drips. [This did not really answer the question]
Senator Chief Ngezi asked who is responsible for deciding on the beneficiaries of land allocations arising from the current resizing of farms exercise, alleging that local people do not benefit because allocations are imposed on district land committees from above. Deputy Minister of Agriculture Karoro said the matter would be looked into, because land allocations were meant to come from the waiting list; he acknowledged that it was improper for names to come from the top.
Constitutional Court Bill given Second Reading
The Minister delivered his Second Reading speech. Senators chose not to contribute to the debate, and the Bill was immediately read for the second time, clearing the way for the Committee Stage to be taken next time the Senate sits – which, always subject to the exigencies of the present suspension of all Parliamentary business, should be on Tuesday 4th August.
Death of Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri
The death has been announced of Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement and a Senator representing Mashonaland Central Province. His death leaves a vacancy in the Senate .
*This webpage was amended on 31st July 2020 to correct the party affiliation of the late Hon Masango Matambanadzo
as "National Patriotic Front [NPF]" instead of "ZANU[PF]".
The downloadable document below has also been corrected.