BILL WATCH 4/2023
[31st January 2023]
Coming up in Parliament This Week
PVO Bill and 12 Other Bills on Order Paper
Both the Senate and the National Assembly will resume sitting on Tuesday 31st January and continue on Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd February – and probably next week as well.
In the Senate
Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill, as amended by National Assembly [link]
This Bill heads the Order Paper. It was finally passed by the National Assembly, with comprehensive and controversial amendments, on 16th December 2022. It was the very last item of business for 2022 before the House adjourned for its Christmas break, after it had finished dealing with the two Budget Bills.
As the Bill is considered urgent by the Government, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, who is the Minister responsible for the Bill, may press Senators to deal with it quickly.
Disastrous Committee Stage in National Assembly needs a remedy
It is to be hoped that Senators will feel it their responsibility to repair the damage done by the disastrous Committee Stage in the National Assembly, which was rushed through the National Assembly without Opposition participation – and entirely without debate or discussion. This came about when Opposition MPs who wished to speak against the amendments were not present physically – and unable to contribute virtually because the virtual platform was not working properly due to lack of connectivity, as described in Bill Watch 35/2022 [link].
Senators can help by examining the Bill thoroughly
Despite the Speaker’s ruling that the conduct of the Committee Stage was proper, the fact remains that the Bill as amended by the National Assembly did not receive the detailed scrutiny that Opposition MPs would have given it during the Committee Stage had they been physically present. Now Senators have the chance to fill this yawning gap. It is hoped that Senators will subject the amended Bill to thorough and critical examination, both in the Second Reading and Committee Stages. Veritas discussed the amendments in Bill Watch 26/2022 [link] and concluded that they would not improve the Bill to any material extent.
Other Senate business Senators also have two adjourned debates to be continued:
· the debate on Senator Mpofu’s motion in reply the Presidential State of the Nation speech opening the current session on 23rd November 2022; and
· the debate on Senator Mabika’s motion on Early Childhood Development [ECD].
Bills on the National Assembly Order Paper
Bills from Fourth Session restored to Fifth Session Order Paper
These Bills were restored Bills by resolutions of the House of on 7th December 2022 [for the Government Bills] and 8th December 2022 [for the Private Member’s Bill]:
For completion of Second Reading stage:
Judicial Laws Amendment Bill [link] – Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. For progress previously made on 21st and 22nd September – delivery of Minister’s Second Reading speech, presentation of Portfolio Committee report and contributions by several MPs – please see Bill Watches 44/2022 [link] and 45/ 2022 [link]. Still to come before the Bill is given its Second Reading, are any further contributions from MPs and the Minister’s response to the report and debate.
National Security Council Bill [link] – for Veritas comments see [link]
Children’s Amendment Bill [link] – for Veritas comments see [link]
Child Justice Bill [link] – for Veritas comments see [link]
Labour Amendment Bill [link] – for Veritas comments see [link]
Insurance Bill [link]
For Minister’s speech beginning Second Reading stage:
Public Finance Management Amendment Bill [link] – Finance and Economic Development.
Electricity Amendment Bill [link] – Energy and Power Development. Veritas has commented twice, first [link] and in further thoughts [link]
Medical Services Amendment Bill [link] – Health and Child Care. Veritas has made comments [link] .
Private Member’s Bill for Committee Stage
Institute of Loss Control and Private Security Managers Bill [link] – the private member concerned is Hon Dr Col. (Rtd) Murire and his copious amendments are on the Order Paper. Veritas has commented on both the Bill and the amendments [link] and there is a Portfolio Committee report [link].
New Bills presented since beginning of Fifth Session
Prisons and Correctional Services Bill [link] – Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Veritas will comment soon.
Electoral Amendment Bill [link] – Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Veritas has made comments [link].
Recently gazetted “Patriot Bill”
The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill [link] was gazetted on 23rd December 2022 and, that being so, can be presented by the responsible Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs at any time from now on. Veritas comments are available on the Veritas website [link]. As Parliament has received a Notice of Presentation from the Minister, he is likely to present it this week and public hearings are likely to be held soon.
Other National Assembly Business This Week
ZEC’s Report on 7th May 2022 By-elections
The report of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] is scheduled to be presented this afternoon, Tuesday 31st January, by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. He will move the necessary take-note motion.
Motion on the President’s speech opening the Fifth Session
Hon Togarepi, Chief Whip of the governing party, is also scheduled to present the customary motion in response to the President’s State of the Nation Address delivered on the occasion of the opening of the Fifth Session on 23rd November 2022.
Committee Reports ready for presentation
There are a number of committee reports scheduled for presentation:
- Public Accounts Committee – report on non-compliance by some local authorities with regards to the submission of financial statements;
- Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs – report on the inquiry into the state of affairs in Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service facilities and living conditions of prisoners;
- Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services – report on the accreditation process of Media Practitioners and ZBC’s implementation plan for fair and balanced coverage of all Political Parties during elections;
- Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services – report on New Ziana;
Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care – report on the petition from the Retail Pharmacists Association on the need to open up administrative posts in the health sector to other health professionals.