BILL WATCH 12-2023 - Progress on Bills Last Week & Coming up This Week

BILL WATCH 12/2023

[7th March 2023]

Progress on Bills in Both Houses 28th February to 2nd March

The National Assembly will Sit from Tuesday 7th March: Senate in Recess until 20th March

Note : Three of the four Bills passed by Parliament this year have not yet been sent to the President

Acts being prepared for transmission to the President

  • Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Act – Act proofs being checked by Attorney-General’s Office.
  • Police Amendment Act – Act proofs being checked by Attorney-General’s Office.
  • Institute of Chartered Loss Control and Private Security Management Act – transmitted to Government Printer on 16th February for production of Act proofs.

Transmitted to the President on 2nd March

  • National Security Council Act

Last Week in the Senate

Senators spent three afternoons without even being asked by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to tackle the two Bills received from the National Assembly on the 22nd February – those were

Judicial Laws Amendment Bill as amended [link] – for the continuation of the Committee Stage [which had been interrupted on 23rd February when it became apparent that Senators had not been timeously provided with a copy of the Bill incorporating the many important amendments made by the National Assembly before it was sent to the Senate];

Child Justice Bill [link] – for the Minister to start the Second Reading Stage with his speech explaining the Bill, which had not been amended at all by the National Assembly.

Continued debate on adjourned motions

ZEC report on May 2022 by-elections  Several Senators contributed to the continuing discussion of this report on Tuesday 28th February, all hoping and calling for this year’s harmonised elections to be violence-free.

Motion of thanks for President’s November 2022 SONA  Several Senators spoke on this subject, with Senator Makope lauding the achievements within his constituency of Mwenezi East.

Sustainable management of waste  Contributions were made to this debate.

Question Time (Thursday]

As MPs had done in the National Assembly the day before, Senators subjected Hon Soda, Minister of Energy and Power Development, to a barrage of questions about the ongoing dearth of electricity supply.  The Minister repeated much of what he had said in the National Assembly.  On the proposed connection of Hwange Unit 7 to the National Grid, he revealed that 99% of the preparatory work was now complete; the 1% remaining was the essential process of synchronisation, with hopes for completion by mid-March; Hwange Unit 8 should be contributing another 300 megawatts in June.  Also mentioned by Minister Soda was the probability of greater power from Kariba following a good rainy season and the resulting improving water-level in Lake Kariba.

The Senate then adjourned until Tuesday 21st March

Bills In the National Assembly Last Week

Two related Bills were brought up at the sitting on Tuesday 28th February:  Another related piece of legislation the Pension and Provident Funds Bill was passed late last year and  is now an Act [link]

Insurance and Pensions Commission [IPEC] Amendment Bill [link]

In the absence of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Deputy Minister Hon Chiduwa found himself having to steer the Bill through the Committee Stage, from clause 2 of the Bill.  He had amendments ready for consideration on clause 2: the repeal of the definition of “appointed member” in section 2 of the principal Act and the insertion of two new definitions of “closely related” and “asset” in the same section.  These amendments were approved and Hon Chiduwa next moved the deletion of clause 3 of the Bill and its replacement by a new clause to insert a new section 3A in the Act to state the objectives of IPEC; Hon Biti suggested a splitting of one of the objectives in order to emphasise that a standalone objective is “to protect policy holders and pension and provident funds members”, and this was approved.  Proceedings were then adjourned, so the Committee Stage will resume with consideration of clause 4.  The Minister has given notice on the Order Paper that he (or the Deputy Minister) will move amendments to clauses 4, 5, 8, 9, 11 and 13 of the Bill; these amendments are on the Veritas website [link]

Insurance Bill [for a new Insurance Act] [link]

Hon Dr Nyashanu presented the comprehensive report of the Budget and Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Committee.  The report lists seventeen recommendations for changes to the Bill in paragraph 6, which necessarily imply major Committee Stage amendments.  Its conclusion is as follows:

“7.0. Conclusion

7.1. The Bill is progressive as it seeks to strengthen the Insurance and Pensions industry in line with the international best practices. The bills seek to bring sanity to the Insurance and Pensions industry which for decades has crumbled under a weighty full brunt of factors, inter alia, legislative shortfalls and macro-economic challenges.

7.2. The Committee therefore implores that all raised observations, the input from the public and recommendations therein be given due attention.”

This was followed by notable contributions to the debate by Hons Mushoriwa, Biti and, Nduna, all of whom severely criticised companies in the insurance and pensions sector for their past conduct resulting in pensions and insurance policies become worthless.  Hon Biti concluded his speech by saying:

“I think we should be given the opportunity of proposing major amendments at Committee Stage. The Bill as it stands right now is very naked. We must use the opportunity of the Committee stage to try and patch it up.” 

The general view of MPs who contributed to the debate was that the Bill had the right aim – to clean up the pensions and insurance sector – but required a great deal of strengthening.  In replying to the debate, Deputy Minister Chiduwa defended various aspects of the Bill but conceded that it could do with improvement – but he did not say that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development would provide the amendments needed to do so.  The Bill then received its second reading.  MPs, it seems, will have to come up with their own Committee Stage amendments –as no notices of amendments appeared on the Order Paper for the sitting of the National Assembly on 7th March. 

The two subsequent sittings passed without any further Bills being brought up.

Other Business in the National Assembly Last Week 

Committee Reports

Public Accounts Committee on Analysis of 2020 Auditor-General’s Report on Harare City Council 
This report, presented on 28th February, brings the Auditor-General’s report up to date with the committee’s own more recent investigations, the results of which will be dealt with in a separate Economic Governance Watch bulletin.  

Manufacturing and supply of transformers in Zimbabwe

This report, by the Portfolio Committee on Energy and Power Development and presented on 2nd March, is available on the Veritas website [link].

Inquiry into State of Affairs in Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services {ZPCS] facilities and living conditions of prisoners

This report, by the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and presented on 2nd March, is available on the Veritas website [link].  The main thrust of the report is the need for more resources to be availed for ZPCS.

Question Time [Wednesday]

Questions without Notice was noteworthy for a long list of apologies from absent Ministers and Deputy Ministers.  Nevertheless, MPs grilled the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Hon Soda, on the sudden dearth of power on the national grid and obtained information about three old units having failed unexpectedly at Hwange Power Station, still awaiting commissioning of new units 7 and 8; the problems at Kariba hydro-electric plant due to the low water level having barred use of the turbines; and satisfactory arrangements recently concluded for private power producers to feed into the national grid.  Also present was the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon Mhona, who was asked to bring a comprehensive Ministerial statement about the Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Fund when questions about specific roads became too specific to be entertained as questions on policy.  The dwindling supply of kapenta in Lake Kariba was also discussed in detail, and the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry explained the measures being taken to remedy the situation.

Written questions with Notice

The Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development said he was “not ready” to give answers to Hon Markham’s seven detailed questions [that had been on the Order Paper for over a month] about the Kuvimba mining house, ZAMCO and the Sovereign Wealth Fund.  Hon Biti protested, citing the constitutional rights of MPs to question Ministers and hold the Executive responsible for Ministers’ actions.  Hon Markham gave a long list of his questions that had been answered incompletely or not at all, not only by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, but also by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement [about wheat farmers still waiting to be paid the US$ portion of their due for the wheat crop by the GMB] and also the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs [about the non-publication of the Justice Uchena Report into urban land some three years after it had been delivered to the President].  Hon Markham accused the defaulting Ministers of contempt of Parliament and lamented that Parliament had been too lenient with the defaulters.

Coming up in the National Assembly This Week

Bills

Electoral Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation/completion of Second Reading debate.  The Minister’s Second Reading speech and the Portfolio Committee’s report [link] were presented on 2nd February; see Bill Watch 6/2023 [link].  The proposed amendments on the Order Paper by Hons Gonese and Hwende have been rearranged in the customary clause-by-clause order by Parliament [link].  Comments by Veritas are available [link].  Veritas has also suggested [link] additional amendments to the Bill.

Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill [“Patriot Bill”] [link] – for start of Second Reading stage with the delivery of the Second Reading speech by Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  The Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is scheduled to adopt its report on this Bill on the morning of Thursday 9th March.

Prisons and Correctional Service Bill [link] – for continuation of Second Reading debate.  The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs delivered his Second Reading speech on 31st January.  Next will be presentation of the Portfolio Committee report on the Bill’s public hearings.  Then MPs will make their contributions.

Medical Services Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of Second Reading debate.  There are Committee Stage amendments already on the Order Paper by Hon Dr Labode [link].  The report of the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care is on the Veritas website [link].

Insurance and Pensions Commission [IPEC] Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of Committee Stage from clause 4 and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development has further amendments on the Order Paper [link] [see above].

Insurance Bill [link] – for start of Committee Stage.  There are as yet no proposed amendments on the Order Paper, but proposals are expected [see above for what was said during the Second Reading debate on 28th February].

Public Finance Management Amendment Bill [link]– for start of Second Reading stage. 

Children’s Amendment Bill [link] – for continuation of Second Reading debate.

Labour Amendment Bill [link] for continuation of MPs contributions to the Second Reading debate.  The Portfolio Committee report on the public hearings was presented in July 2022 and is available on the Veritas website [link].

Electricity Amendment Bill [link] – for start of Second Reading stage.  Veritas has commented twice, in Bill Watch 42/2022 [link] and “further thoughts” in Bill Watch 52/2022 [link].

Motion for Approval of International Loan Agreement

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development will move that the House resolves to approve a loan of US$ 15 million for part-financing of the Smallholder Agriculture Cluster Project in Mashonaland Central, East and West, Midlands and Matabeleland North.

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