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Proclamation proroguing Parliament & summoning new session gazetted
- Bill Watch 27/2010
July 09, 2010
Parliamentary session will end on Monday 12th July and the new Session
will begin on Tuesday 13th July
Proclamation, Statutory Instrument 118/2010, gazetted today in a
Government Gazette Extraordinary, prorogues the present Second Session
of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe on Monday 12th July and fixes
Tuesday 13th July as the date on which the new, Third Session of
the Seventh Parliament will begin. [“Prorogue” is the
technical Parliamentary term for ending a session, prorogation discontinues
a particular session without dissolving Parliament.]
programme for the coming week
13th July: Ceremonial Opening of the Second Session by
the President. This will commence at noon. [Note: The original date
given was the 14th July and this was reflected in the press and
in Bill Watch 26,
but this has now been changed to the 13th July.]
14th July: Presentation of Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review
[mini-Budget - including Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure
and taxation proposals] by the Minister of Finance.
15th: Both Houses will sit to deal with Bills, including
an Appropriation (Supplementary) Bill and a Finance Bill to give
effect to the mini-Budget presented by the Minister of Finance [these
Bills are not yet available]. [For a list of other Bills see below.]
16th July: If necessary, sittings of both Houses will continue,
to enable completion of work on Bills.
is that both Houses should pass all available Bills by the end of
the week. This will require suspension of certain Standing Orders
to permit fast-tracking of Bills and may also entail late night
sittings [see below]. There will then be an adjournment, probably
to October, in order to permit the Constitution Outreach to proceed.
[Note: Parliamentary Standing Orders permit the Speaker of the House
of Assembly and the President of the Senate to recall both Houses
during an adjournment, if they are satisfied that the “public
interest” requires a recall.]
outreach suspended 11th to 18th July
are essential members of all the outreach teams, these Parliamentary
sittings necessitate the suspension of Outreach meetings. There
will be no Outreach meetings from 11th to 18th July, inclusive.
Meetings will resume on Monday 19th July.
procedure: The Standing Orders of both Houses lay down
the normal procedure for consideration and passing of a Bill:
gazetting at least 14 days before presentation
by the appropriate portfolio committee as soon as the Bill has
been gazetted. The committee may consult the responsible Minister,
call in stakeholders and even gauge public opinion by calling
for submissions or holding public hearings.
- First Reading
[formal introduction of the Bill, without any debate] and immediate
reference to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] for its decision
on whether or not the Bill is consistent with the Constitution,
especially the Declaration of Rights. The Bill cannot proceed
to its Second Reading until the PLC has had a chance to report
its decision, and Standing Orders allow the PLC 26 days to do
- Second Reading,
when the Minister presenting a Bill explains what it does and
why it is necessary, and members can debate the principles and
policy issues raised. This is when the portfolio committee’s
report on the Bill should be presented.
Stage, when a Bill is considered and voted on clause by clause
by the House sitting “in committee”. This is when
amendments can be made.
- Third Reading,
which is the stage at which a Bill is “passed”. After
this the Bill must be transmitted to the other House, where it
goes through the same procedure and, if passed by it, can be sent
to the President for assent.
for normal procedure: This procedure is to ensure that
Parliamentarians have sufficient time to consider Bills properly
and to consult their constituents, and that portfolio committees
have an opportunity to examine a Bill in depth and, if considered
necessary, call for input from stakeholders and hold public hearings
to canvass public opinion. Standing Orders also guard against undue
haste by requiring the various stages to be taken on separate days.
This is so that Parliament’s legislative function must be
taken seriously by both Government and Parliamentarians, and that
Parliament must not be reduced to rubber-stamping whatever Bills
Government sees fit to lay before it. From the public’s point
of view, the normal procedure permits press coverage and engagement
and lobbying by interest groups and concerned citizens.
to enable fast-tracking of Bills: All these Standing Orders
can, however, be suspended by resolution of the House concerned
and it will be necessary for both Houses to pass such resolutions
if all the waiting Bills are to be passed by both Houses next week.
And the rule that both Houses stop work at 7 pm can likewise be
suspended to allow late- or all-night sittings [Comment: While it
is obviously necessary for Parliament to be able to suspend Standing
Orders in a true emergency, such as a wartime situation or a sudden
natural disaster, it is not acceptable to apply fast-tracking to
pass important Bills that have been delayed by the Inclusive Government’s
inability to reach agreement on them before now. Neither past abuse
of fast-tracking by the previous Government nor the need for the
Inclusive Government to enhance its record of legislative achievements
justifies a resort to fast-tracking.]
cannot dispense with the need to refer a Bill to the PLC after its
First Reading, that is a constitutional requirement, but the 26-day
time-frame can be changed. What has happened in past cases of fast-tracking,
is that PLC has been asked to report back on Bills on the same day
a Bill has been formally referred to it. This speeding up of the
process may prevent the PLC from giving Bills the attention they
of prorogation/end of Session
When the present
Parliamentary session ends on Monday, all unfinished business of
the session falls away. This means that the POSA
Amendment Bill currently before the House of Assembly will lapse,
and uncompleted motions and unasked questions will lapse. Standing
Orders permit lapsed Bills to be restored to the Order Paper [agenda]
at the stage previously reached, and it is hoped that the POSA Amendment
Bill will be placed on the agenda for the coming week.
Order and Security [POSA] Amendment Bill: This Bill [a
Private Member’s Bill introduced by MDC-T Chief Whip Innocent
Gonese last year] is presently part-way through its Second Reading
debate. Although the Bill will lapse on Monday [see above], it can
be restored to the Order Paper and proceeded with.
gazetted and ready for presentation:
National Security Council Amendment Bill
Law Amendment (Protection of Power, Communication and Water Infrastructure)
both these Government Bills were given in Bill
Watch 22 of 8th June. Both are listed to be presented by the
Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs.] [Electronic versions of
both Bills available on request.]
being printed: There are two Government Bills still being
prepared by the Government Printer [drafters are presently checking
- Energy Regulatory
Authority Bill [to be presented by the Minister of Energy and
Office Bill [to be presented by the Minister of Justice and Legal
[These two Bills
are not yet available. They are unlikely to be presented during
the coming week’s sittings.]
there is still no sign of the promised electoral and media
reform bills being ready for this coming week’s sittings.
makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take
legal responsibility for information supplied
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