BILL WATCH 24-2022 - Parliament Resumed Sitting on Tuesday 7th June

BILL WATCH 24/2022

[11th June 2022]

Both Houses of Parliament Resumed Sitting on 7th June

and Will Continue Sitting Next Week

Parliament’s June sittings began on Tuesday 7th June.  Both Houses had been in recess since Friday 19th May.

This bulletin begins with the latest developments this week on three major Bills and then briefly outlines the other business done during this week’s sittings.  It goes on to list two Acts and three Bills that were published in the Government Gazette during the recess, and a Bill published yesterday.

Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill

The Bill is not yet though the Second Reading stage and while some MPs have made their contributions to the Second Reading debate, others may still wish to contribute.  The Minister [it was the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs who made the Second Reading speech although in fact the Bill falls under the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare], still has to respond to points raised in the Portfolio Committee Report [attached and also on the Veritas website [link] on the public hearings The Minister also needs to respond to the contributions already made and still to be made by MPs.  

The Bill had not been brought up for further consideration by the end of this week’s sittings.  But this week’s publication of the Government’s proposed amendments to the Bill may signal that the Government is now ready to proceed. 

Committee Stage Amendments published on Order Paper

The Government’s proposed amendments to the Bill appeared on the National Assembly Order Papers for Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th June, and they are also on the Order Paper for next Tuesday, 14th June.  They are very extensive.  They are set out in the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare’s Notice of Amendments  [which is attached to this bulletin and is also available on the Veritas website [link].

The amendments have presumably been published unusually early – before the Bill has even finished its Second Reading – in order to allow MPs a preview of what changes the Government is prepared to make to the Bill.  The Minister may be hoping that the Committee Stage – in which the amendments and any amendments tabled by Opposition MPs would be dealt with – will proceed immediately or soon after the Bill is given its Second Reading.  But it would be unfair to expect MPs to start on the Committee Stage immediately, given the complexity and extensive range of the proposed amendments.  They have had next to no time at all to familiarise themselves with the details of the amendments – which not only involve major changes to clauses referring to the Private Voluntary Organisations Act, but also includes pages of additional clauses making amendments to the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act. 

Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill

This Bill [link] languished throughout the May sittings in the Senate [it has passed through the National Assembly] without being brought up by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  But on Thursday 9th June the Minister delivered a brief Second Reading speech.  Senators did not offer any contributions and the Bill was then given its Second Reading.  The Committee Stage is due on Tuesday 14th June.

Health Service Amendment Bill

On 7th June Hon Toffa presented the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care’s report on the Bill [note that that the report of the Committee, like most Parliamentary documentation on the Bill wrongly refers to the Bill as the Health Services Bill].  After describing the many criticisms of the Bill received by the committee, the report [link] recommends that, given the overwhelming rejection of the Bill “by the interested and affected stakeholders the Ministry should withdraw the Bill and conduct a thorough consultation process with all the interested and affected stakeholders in order to redraft the Bill”.  Most MPs who spoke during the ensuing debate seemed to agree with the committee.

Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill

This Bill [link] languished throughout the May sittings in the Senate without being brought up by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  But on Thursday 9th June the Minister delivered a brief Second Reading speech.  Senators did not offer any contributions and the Bill was then given its Second Reading.  The Committee Stage is due on Tuesday 14th June.

In the National Assembly This Week

Other business in the National Assembly:

New MPs sworn in to replace recalled MPs

Two new MDC-A proportional representation women’s quota MPs were sworn in, both for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province,.

Hon Visitor Ndebele [recalled former MP was Nomvula Mguni]

Hon Florence Nyika [recalled former MP was Thokozani Khupe].

New vacancy caused by death

On 7th June the Speaker announced the Hon Leonard Chikomba, the ZANU PF MP for Gokwe Kabuyuni constituency on 28th May in a car accident.  The resulting vacancy will need to be filled by a by-election.

Ministerial Statements presented

Both the following statements will be available on the Veritas website soon.

On 8th June the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education made a comprehensive statement on the deployment of teachers throughout the country, teacher requirements in various schools, re-grading of teachers upon having teaching qualifications, teacher capacity development and continuous assessment of the competence-based curriculum in relation to disabled pupils.  MPs were unanimous in their appreciation of her statement.

On 9th June the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works made a statement on the topic of the moment – the Pomona Waste to Energy Project between the Harare City Council and Geogenix BV.

New reports presented

Retention of funds and funding model for Zimbabwe Revenue Authority [ZIMRA] On 7th June Hon Dr Nyashanu presented the report of the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development on the Petition received from the Zimbabwe Revenue and Allied Workers Trade Union (ZIMRATU).  The report recommended that ZIMRA should be allowed to retain 3% of the revenue it collects, the ZIMRA Board should be subjected to less interference from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (and by implication removal from the Board of the Permanent Secretary for Finance and Economic Development, which is in breach Public Entities Corporate Governance Act).  MPs who contributed to the ensuing debate applauded the report. 

Report on the Visit to Dubai Expo [linkOn 9th June Hon Shamu presented the report of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on his visit to the Expo.

Publication of First Two Acts of 2022

Guardianship of Minors Amendment Act, 2022 (No. 2 of 2022) [link]

Gazetted: 20th May 2022 by GN 1144/2022 [link].
Date of commencement: 20th May 2022 [date of gazetting, in terms of section 132 of the Constitution].

Marriages Act (No. 1 of 2022) [link]

Gazetted: 27th May 2022 by GN 1156/2022 [link].

Date of commencement:  Still to be fixed by notice in the Government Gazette in terms of section 1(2) of the Act, which provides for the President to fix the day on which the Act shall come into operation by notice in the Gazette, as Parliament is permitted to do in terms of section 132 of the Constitution:

Note: GN 1156/2022 – the notice notifying the President’s assent to and signature of the Act and its date of publication – does not fix the date of commencement of the Act.  That will be done by a separate notice by the President – usually a statutory instrument – in due course.  The legislature has used the option allowed by section 132 of the Constitution to give the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs time to make the necessary administrative arrangements for the transition to the new law.  Until the President’s notice fixing the date of commencement is gazetted and until the date fixed arrives, none of the provisions of the Act are operative – and that includes the provisions amending other Acts.

Four Bills Gazetted

[To be fully discussed in separate bulletins to be issued in due course]

Financial Adjustments Bill, H.B. 4, 2022 [link]

Gazetted on 10th June 2022

This is a Bill to condone unauthorised expenditure by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development incurred during the financial years of 2019 and 2020.  The total amount involved is ZWL 160 billion, but no details at all are given. 

Note: The previous Financial Adjustments Bill of 2019 is still on Parliament on its Status of Bills list as “Awaiting gazetting”, with a note that the proofs of the Bill have been with the Attorney-General’s Office since August last year.  That Bill was to have covered unauthorised expenditure by various Ministries incurred during previous financial years.  Has it been forgotten?

Medical Services Amendment Bill, H.B. 1, 2022 [link]

Gazetted on 20th May 2022.

According to the official explanatory memorandum published with the Bill, the objective of this Bill is to bring the existing Medical Services Act, which dates from 1998.  The explanatory memorandum warns that it is essential to note that, because some of the constitutional rights concerned are expressed to be subject to the availability to the State of resources necessary to enable the enjoyment of the rights, the amendments have been couched so as to take this into account.

National Security Council Bill, H.B. 2, 2022 [link]

Gazetted on 6th June 2022

Section 209 of the Constitution provides that “there is a National Security Council consisting of the President as chairperson, the Vice-Presidents and such Ministers and members of the security services and other persons as may be determined in an Act of Parliament” [emphasis by Veritas].  This Bill is the Bill for the Act envisaged by that section.  There was a previous Act during the Government of National Unity [GNU] from 2009 to 2013.  That Act expired when the GNU ceased to exist, which underlines that this Bill is over nine years late.

Institute of Chartered Loss Control and Private Security Managers Bill, H.B. 5, 2022 [link]

Gazetted on 6th June 2022

This is a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Hon Dr Murire.  The House earlier voted in favour of granting him leave to present the Bill.  As a Private Member’s Bill needing this leave, it had not previously been gazetted.  From now on, however, the normal procedure for Bills will be followed, with Hon Dr Murire in the driving seat normally occupied by a Minister.

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