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Parliamentary Update - Bill Watch 47/2010
Veritas

November 13, 2010

The House of Assembly will sit again on Tuesday 16th November

The Senate has adjourned until 8th February

Singing Senators “Named”

Senate President Ednah Madzongwe on Wednesday formally “named” 18 noisily protesting MDC-T Senators for disregarding the authority of the Chair and persistently and wilfully disrupting the business of the Senate. Under Senate Standing Orders 78 and 79 this means that when the Senate next meets they could be suspended for four sitting days.

A curious aspect of the whole incident was that it was a person objected to by the MDC-T Senators as a “stranger” who proposed the motion that the Senate should be adjourned to 8th February.

Hopefully, the issue of the provincial governors which caused the protest that resulted in the adjournment of the Senate will be resolved soon and the Senate will be recalled, as there is a great deal of Parliamentary business to get through before the end of the year. The previous session of Parliament achieved very little [see Bill Watch 30/2010 of 31st July]. So far only two fast-tracked money bills have been deal with since this new session opened in July.

Electoral Amendment Bill

The Electoral Amendment Bill has still not been cleared by Cabinet.

In Parliament Last Week

The House of Assembly sat on Tuesday and Wednesday only, until 6.38 pm and 5.08 pm respectively. On Thursday members were expected to attend a COPAC Special Outreach for Members of Parliament designed to provide MPs with an opportunity to submit their views to COPAC.

Bill Passed

Public Accounts Committee Report Adopted

The House adopted the Third Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Special Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the 1st Quarter of the Financial Year 2009. The report discusses failures by Ministries to adhere to laid down procedures with regard to the management of public funds and state assets and makes recommendations for corrective action. Issues raised included poor payroll administration [leading to continued payments to former employees after they have left the Public Service] and the need for Government to formulate a clear policy on movement of assets, such as motor vehicles and laptop computers, with Ministers when they are reassigned.

Parliamentary Legal Committee

PLC non-adverse reports were returned on the following Bills, clearing the way for their Second Readings:

Question Time – Wednesday

The following questions were dealt with:

Maternal mortality rate: Deputy Prime Minister Khupe spoke about the Government’s commitment to the accelerated reduction of this rate and said the aim was to scrap hospital and clinic user fees for pregnant women.

Teacher/pupil sexual relations: Education Minister Coltart condemned such conduct and confirmed that teachers engaging in it face immediate expulsion from the teaching service.

Elections in 2011? Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara said the timing of the elections was a matter to be agreed by the three GPA political parties and stressed how much still needed to be done to create conditions for free and fair elections.

Presidential scholarship scheme: The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education gave no details, saying responsibility rested with the President’s Office and that the programme was directed by Manicaland Provincial Governor Chris Mushohwe.

Most of the written questions were carried forward to next week because the relevant Ministers were not present. [See above.]

On the House of Assembly Order Paper for the Coming Week

Bills for Second Reading

  • Criminal Law Amendment (Protection of Power, Communication and Water Infrastructure) Bill
  • Attorney-General’s Office Bill
  • Energy Regulatory Authority Bill

Electronic versions available – please email requests to veritas@yoafrica.com

Bill awaiting Committee Stage

The POSA Amendment Bill still awaits commencement of its Committee Stage. The Bill has been stalled at this stage for over a month. The motion approving the introduction of this Private Member’s Bill was approved on 19th November 2009. [See Bill Watch 43/2010 of 16th October for a summary of the proposed amendments to the Bill that have been tabled for consideration during the Committee Stage.]

Motions

A new motion listed for debate on Tuesday takes note of the “deteriorating” welfare of members of Parliament, civil servants and Government Ministers; asks the Minister of Finance to allocate more money in his 2011 Budget to address their plight; and proposes the establishment of a Parliamentary Service Commission.

Items carried forward include motions for discussion of adverse reports by the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] on statutory instruments, and the ongoing debate on the President’s speech opening Parliament in July this year.

Members’ Question Time – Wednesday

18 written questions with notice are listed for reply by Ministers, most of them questions not dealt with last week. They include:

  • for the Minister of Finance, Government: What is Government policy towards payment of pensions – and the resumption of pension payments to pensioners outside Zimbabwe?
  • for the Minister of Education: A request for details on teachers’ pensions; an analysis of Grade 7, O and A level pass rates in urban and rural schools; and comparisons of ZIMSEC and Cambridge examinations
  • for the Minister of Transport: A request for information on the dispute between Zambia and Zimbabwe over Zimbabwe’s new vehicle number plates
  • for the co-Ministers of Home Affairs: What is being done about complaints of police brutality at a police post in Lupane District?
  • for the Minister of Youth: Is it the Ministry’s policy to discriminate against MDC youths and in favour of ZANU-PF youths in the allocation of loans?
  • for the Minister of State Security: Are officers of the Central Intelligence Organisation [CIO] allowed to hold positions in political parties, as in the case of a CIO Deputy Director-General who has been appointed to the ZANU-PF Central Committee?


Business Awaiting Attention by the Senate

Matters awaiting attention by the Senate when it resumes sitting include:

  • Zimbabwe National Security Council Amendment Bill [transmitted from the House of Assembly on Tuesday] – this amendment makes the Minister of Justice a member of the NSC in his capacity as the Minister responsible for prisons.
  • Approval of International Agreements already approved by the House of Assembly [see Bill Watch for a list of the 11 agreements concerned].

Parliamentary Committee Meetings

House of Portfolio Committees will be meeting during the week. So will Senate Thematic Committees, notwithstanding the adjournment of the Senate until February. [Note: as provincial governors do not sit on thematic committees there is no basis for MDC-T anti-governor protests to be repeated at committee meetings.] A separate bulletin has listed details of meetings open to the public.

Bills Awaiting Introduction in Parliament

The following Bills have been printed and gazetted:

  • Deposit Protection Corporation Bill [gazetted 22nd October]
  • General Laws Amendment Bill [gazetted 22nd October]
  • Small Enterprises Development Corporation Amendment Bill [gazetted 5th November]
  • National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill [gazetted 5th November]
  • There were no Bills in the Government Gazette of 12th November.
  • Statutory Instruments and General Notices

There were no statutory instruments of general interest in the Government Gazette of 12th November.

Competition Commission to Investigate TelOne: GN 301/2010, gazetted on 12th November, announced that the Competition and Tariff Commission is to investigate TelOne for alleged abuse of its monopoly in the provision of fixed line telephone services. Representations from interested persons are invited and should be submitted to the Commission by no later than Friday 26th November. For further information contact the Commission: telephone 04-775040/5; fax 04-770175; email compcomm@mweb.co.zw

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.

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