BILL WATCH 5/2023
[2nd February 2023]
PVO Bill Passed
Government Business Fast-Tracked
The PVO Bill
As Amended by National Assembly [link]
In the Senate on Wednesday Minister Ziyambi on behalf of the Minister Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare of Social Welfare made his Second Reading speech on the PVO Bill [according to the Constitution a Bill does not have a first reading in the Senate if it has been forwarded from the National Assembly]. Senators then made contributions and all praised the Bill except Senator Komichi. After the Minister’s response to these contributions the Senate gave the Bill its second reading and the Bill went on to Committee stage. During the Committee Stage there were no amendments and no discussion. The Third Reading [just a formality] quickly followed.
The Bill will go to the Government Printers and they will prepare three special copies which will go to the President for his signature.
Government Business Fast-tracked in the National Assembly
The sitting in the National Assembly on Tuesday started with Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Ziyambi Ziyambi who is Leader of the House asked the House for leave to introduce a motion for the suspension of certain Standing Orders which would allow the whole week to be dedicated to Government Business only. This means that the House will not automatically adjourn at 6.55 pm, may deal with several stages of a Bill in a single day, may sit on Friday morning with no automatic adjournment;
Minister Ziyambi had originally proposed an indefinite suspension of the relevant Standing Orders but was persuaded to modify this for the current week only with the possibly of extension next week – so we may expect more fast tracking next week.
Judicial Laws Amendment Bill
This Bill [link] which makes provisions for virtual court hearings had already been reported on by the Portfolio Committee and debated by MPs. Veritas critiqued the Bill [link] and advised of the progress on it previously made on 21st and 22nd September – delivery of Minister’s Second Reading speech, presentation of Portfolio Committee report. [It is a sound report [link], recording all the objections lodged against the Bill by the Law Society and others, including ZLHR and Veritas, which pointed out inconsistencies with the Constitution, and calls for clarity on the feasibility of the proposals for virtual hearings of court proceedings in both civil and criminal cases]. For contributions by several MPs –see Bill Watches 44/2022 [link] and 45/2022 [link]. Minister Ziyambi on Tuesday replied to points made by the Committee and MPs and the Bill was given its Second Reading. The Committee Stage followed immediately and clauses 1, 2 and 3 were approved before an adjournment until the next day. On Wednesday Biti successfully moved that MPs revert to clause 3, and Committee Stage was adjourned before clause 3 was completed.
National Security Council Bill
For a copy of the Bill see [link] and for Veritas comments see [link]. On Tuesday 31st January the Report on the Bill by the Portfolio Committee on Defence was presented and then MPs Mayihlome, Mliswa and Biti made their contributions. Minister Ziyambi then replied to points made and the Second Reading was given. The Committee Stage followed immediately and the 9-clause Bill was approved, with amendments to clause 3 of the Bill at the suggestion of Hon Biti:
- New subclause (1) making it clear that “the Council shall be the apex organ for all national security matters” – this was prompted by concerns raised by MPs about the position of Joint Operations Command [JOC] in such matters and that JOC should be restricted to the operational level in accordance with policy decided by the NSC.
- Clarifying by express wording that the President will be the chairperson.
- Clause 3(1)(c) presently names the Ministers responsible for national security, defence, the police, prisons and finance as ex officio NSC members but allows the President to add other Ministers as NSC members “after consultation with” any of the named Ministers. The words requiring the President to consult were deleted.
The Bill was then sent to the PLC for its report on the constitutionality of the amendments to clause 3.
Prisons And Correctional Services Bill
On Tuesday Minister Ziyambi read out his short Second Reading speech, then agreed with Hon Biti that there should be an adjournment Wednesday 1 February, but in fact it was not dealt with.
Child Justice Bill
The Bill [link] – for Veritas comments see [link] – had already been reported on by the Portfolio Committee on Justice [link] and been debated by MPs. Minister Ziyambi dealt at length and carefully with issues raised in the report and by MPs and wound up the Second Reading stage. The Bill was then given its Second Reading and the Committee Stage was fixed for Wednesday, but in fact was it not dealt with on Wednesday.
[New] Police Amendment Bill
Standing Order 142 requires Bills to be gazetted at least 14 days before being presented in the House. A suspending resolution was approved for the new Police Amendment Bill, which was gazetted on 27 January 2023. The Bill [link] had its First Reading on Wednesday and has been sent to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]
Note: the previous Police Amendment Bill of 2021 lapsed at the end of the last session of Parliament.
The Bill [link] was gazetted on 23rd December 2022. The Bill had its First Reading on Wednesday and has been sent to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC].
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill [Patriot Bill]
The Bill [link] was gazetted on 23rd December 2022. For Veritas comments on the Bill see [link]. The Bill had its First Reading on Wednesday and has been sent to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC].
- [Note the Bill still has to have public hearings.]