BILL WATCH 33/2022
Only the National Assembly Will Sit This Week
The Senate Will Not Sit Again until Tuesday 16th August
Supplementary 2022 Budget Due on Thursday 28th July
This week’s Order Papers for the National Assembly have notified that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development will on Thursday 28th July present, not only the Mid-term Fiscal Policy Statement, but also a Supplementary Budget for this year. The Supplementary Budget is sure to require a Supplementary or Additional Appropriation Bill and likely a Finance Bill.
Bills in the National Assembly 19th to 21st July
Institute of Chartered Loss Control and Private Security Managers Bill [link] On Wednesday 20th July a Notice of Committee Stage amendments to be proposed by Hon Dr Murire appeared on the Order Paper, a little prematurely because he has not delivered his Second Reading speech and his Bill has not yet had its Second Reading. The Bill is a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Hon Dr Murire with the leave of the House. It has been gazetted, but there has been no public hearings and no Portfolio Committee Report yet.
Labour Amendment Bill [link] On Thursday 21st July Hon E. Ncube presented the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare’s report on the public hearings held on the Bill. The comprehensive and interesting report is available on the Veritas website [link] records suggestions for improvements made during the public hearings and implores the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to give serious consideration to these suggestions. There were two contributions by Hons Mliswa and Josiah Sithole to the ensuing debate, which was not completed and will continue next week.
Bills still with PLC at end of week
The week’s sittings ended without receipt of Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] reports having been announced on the two Bills referred to that committee after their First Readings:
Judicial Laws Amendment Bill [link] – referred to PLC on 21st June;
National Security Council Bill [link] – referred to PLC on 12th July.
Other Business in the National Assembly
Tuesday 19th July
CCC Party appoints Chief Whip and Deputy
The Speaker informed MPs that the Citizens Coalition for Change Party [CCC] had appointed Hon Prosper Mutseyami as its Chief Whip and Hon Sichelesile Mahlangu as his deputy. Hon Mutseyami would, as a Chief Whip, be an ex officio member of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.
Ministerial statement in response to Reports on the State of the Media and the Digital Migration Project
The Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Hon Paradza, made a Ministerial statement in response to the Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services’ reports on the above subjects. The reports themselves are also available on the Veritas website: State of the Media [link] and Digital Migration Project [link].
Portfolio Committee Report
Hon T. Moyo, chairperson of the Primary and Secondary Education Portfolio Committee, presented the committee’s report on its Benchmarking Visits to Kenya, Zambia and Ghana on Education Financing [link]. The visits [during October and November 2021] were to expose the members of the committee – and the Government officials who accompanied them – to the methods used to achieve satisfactory education financing in those three countries – with a view to their coming up with recommendations on how Zimbabwe should achieve the constitutional goal of free basic education [Constitution, section 75]. The report sets out these recommendations and deadlines for their achievement; an example is a recommendation for an Education Finance Act to ring-fence, by the end of 2022, portions of the revenues from VAT and other taxes for education financing.
Wednesday 20th July
Petitions received and referred to Portfolio Committee
From ZISCO pensioners – a petition asking Parliament to see to it that the Executive ensures ZISCO Steel pensions are paid out fairly [referred to the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development].
Postal voting – a petition from two journalists, Mandla Tshuma and Lulu Harris beseeching Parliament to amend section 73 of the Electoral Act to allow working journalists to benefit from postal voting [referred to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs].
Convention on Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment – a petition from the Director of Veritas asking Parliament to take the necessary steps to become party to this Convention and to ensure that the convention and the protocol are incorporated into Zimbabwean law by enacting legislation in accordance with the draft prohibition of torture Bill supplied by Veritas [referred to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs].
Petitions received and rejected as inadmissible
Honde Valley Small Holder Tea Producers Association – a petition beseeching Parliament to further the economic growth of the population of Hauna in Honde Valley by establishing processing plants at growth points to market their produce [rejected as inadmissible for failure to comply with statutory requirements].
The Speaker read out a long list of Ministers who had tendered apologies. Hon Gonese remarked that there were more absentees than Ministers who were present. The Speaker pointed out that Standing Orders did not specify a minimum attendance by Ministers and said that it was up to MPs to suggest an amendment to Standing Orders.
On current wheat crop MPs then took advantage of the presence of Hon Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, to question him about the effect on the current wheat crop of farmers being cut off from water, electricity and fuel supplies for non-payment. The Minister’s answer was that a stop-order system existed that allowed farmers to pay when they eventually received payment for their crop.
Government hospitals without medical supplies In answer to a question about Government hospitals generally not having medical supplies and United Bulawayo Hospitals having stopped surgery because they had run out of anaesthetics, Hon Ziyambi in his capacity as Leader of Government Business, suggested that the fault perhaps lay with MPs’ failure to exercise their oversight functions to ensure that funds were available; Hon Mliswa said that most portfolio committees were content to do nothing about Ministries’ failures to submit periodic financial reports to Parliament as required by the Public Finance Management Act.
Ministerial Statement on schoolchildren being turned away from for non-payment of school fees and levies
After Question Time the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education made a formal Ministerial Statement on the above subject in response to a request by Hon Tekeshe. She confirmed the Government policy position: no school aged child shall be denied a place at any registered school or turned away from school on the grounds of failure by the parents or guardians to pay school fees or levies.
Thursday 21st July
One-minute statements on matters of public importance The Speaker was in the Chair and said he would allow only four one-minute statements.
o The first was on the plight of businesses in industry and commerce adversely affected by the increase in the rate of interest on bank loans to 200% [Hon Madzimure wanted the Minister of Industry and Commerce to make a statement on what she would do to assist the businesses to keep going].
o Hon Markham said that the City of Harare had, without warning or explanation, very recently stopped issuing business licences to anyone with an ID ending with the figures “00”, which signified members of the Coloured, Indian and White communities and asked for the obvious discrimination to be officially explained [the Speaker said he must ask a question next Question Time].
o Hon Nyabani stressed the need for a scheme for farmers to get adequate inputs [fertilisers and seeds].
o Hon Hamauswa, referring to the disappointing results of ZEC’s first voter registration blitz, said there should be another ZEC voter registration blitz.
Condolence motion on death of Hon Chikomba
Many members, among them the single Independent MP, Hon Mliswa, and other MPs from the ranks of all parties, paid glowing tributes to the late Hon Leonard Chikomba, ZANU PF MP for Gokwe Kabuyuni, who died on 28th May in a car accident. Their contributions to the condolence motion lasted until the adjournment at 5.37 pm and there are more to come, because the Temporary Speaker promised those MPs who would be travelling on Parliamentary business in the coming week that they would a chance to contribute thereafter.
In the Senate 19th to 21st July
No Bills appeared on the Senate Order Paper for the week’s sittings – for the simple reason that the National Assembly had not completed and transmitted any Bills for Senators to consider. The Senate’s adjournment to Tuesday 16th August should give the National Assembly at least two clear weeks in which to pass one or two Bills for consideration by the Senate.
Two new vacancies, both the result of deaths
On Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th July, respectively, Senators observed a moment’s in respectful memory of:
o Senator Watson Khupe, one of the two Senators representing persons living with disability, who died on 16th July; and
o Senator Oliver Chidau, Minister of State for Devolution and Provincial Affairs and ZANU PF Senator for Harare Metropolitan Province, who died on 19th July.
The vacancy resulting from the death of Hon Senator Chidau will be filled, like any proportional representation vacancy, by a nominee of his party, ZANU PF. But the vacancy caused by the death of Hon Senator Khupe will have to be filled by a meeting of the Electoral College for Senators representing persons living with disability.
New motion on completion of all dam construction projects
Highlight of the week was the moving on Tuesday 19th July of this motion by Hon Senator Mabika, seconded by Hon Kambizi. The motion, while calling on the Government to provide adequate funding for the completion of “all outstanding dam construction projects countrywide”, continues “among them Mirror Dam in Chipinge”. Her contribution in support of the motion certainly mentioned the importance of other dam construction projects, but went into detail about the benefits that would accrue to Chipinge and district on completion of the Mirror Dam project – understandably, given that she is a Senator representing Manicaland and hails from Chipinge.
Bills on the National Assembly Order Paper for 26th to 28th July
Insurance and Pensions Commission Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of Committee Stage, with clause 4 under consideration, at which point the Minister of Finance and Economic Development proposes the insertion of a new clause allowing the Commissioner of Insurance and Pensions to delegate her/his functions. Documents available: (1) Bill Watch 5/2022 [link] containing Veritas comments on the Bill, (2) the Portfolio Committee’s report on the public hearings [link]
Police Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of Second Reading stage. A Veritas commentary is available [link]. Committee Stage amendments proposed by Hon Mayihlome, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services, appear on the Order Paper [link] and were summarised in Bill Watch 15/2022 [link].
Public Finance Management Amendment Bill [link] – for beginning of Second Reading with delivery of Second Reading speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development or his deputy.
Health Service Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of Second Reading debate. Veritas concluded it was not satisfactory [link]. and the Portfolio Committee’s report, already presented [link], recommended withdrawal and redrafting of the Bill.
Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of Second Reading debate. Veritas has analysed and commented on the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare’s proposed Committee Stage amendments – see Bill Watch 26/2022 of 16th June [link]. Copies of the amendments [link] and a version of the Bill as it would look if all the Minister’s amendments were incorporated [link] are available on the Veritas website. Veritas has also proposed a model for consideration “PVO Bill: A Better Option” [link].
Children’s Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of Second Reading stage, with the Minister’s Second Reading speech having been delivered on 22nd June by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on behalf of the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. The report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is awaited on the public hearings being held during the week ending 22nd July. Comments by Veritas are available [link].
Child Justice Bill [link] – for continuation of Second Reading stage, with the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs having delivered his Second Reading speech and the Portfolio Committee’s report [link] having made numerous suggestions for the improvement of the Bill. Comments by Veritas are available [link].
Labour Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of the Second Reading stage – where MPs are making their contributions after hearing the report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare [as indicated above].
Insurance Bill [link] – for continuation of Second Reading stage with the report on public consultations on the Bill by the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development.
Institute of Loss Control and Private Security Managers Bill [link] – for start of Second Reading stage by Hon Dr Murire with the delivery of his Second Reading speech, this being a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by him.
Bills Awaiting PLC Report on Constitutionality
Judicial Laws Amendment Bill [link] – this Bill received its First Reading on 21st June and was immediately referred to Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC].
National Security Council Bill [link] – this Bill received its First Reading on 12th July and was immediately referred to the PLC.
Cabinet 19th July Press Briefing [link]]
Plant Breeders Rights Amendment Bill: Principles approved
Cabinet approved the principles of the above Bill. Armed with this approval the responsible Ministry, which is the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement will now submit the Bill to the Attorney-General’s Office for drafting. The Bill’s objective will be to enable Zimbabwe to accede to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) Convention and become a Member State of the International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties.