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Parliamentary Update - Budget Bills and other business - Bill Watch 51/2010
Veritas
December 12, 2010

The House of Assembly will sit again on Tuesday 14th December

The Senate has adjourned until Tuesday 8th February 2011

Recalled Senate Meets – No Further Rumpus over Provincial Governors

The Senate met on the 7th December, having been recalled to meet from that day on notwithstanding its November adjournment until 8th February 2011. The recall was ordered by Senate President Ednah Madzongwe, at the request of President Mugabe, in terms of Senate Standing Order 187, which permits her to recall the Senate during an adjournment if she is satisfied that the “public interest” requires it to meet. Business proceeded normally, without MDC-T Senators objecting to the presence of the provincial governors whose recent reappointments are not recognised by MDC-T. A party spokesman said that MDC-T Senators would not repeat their November blocking of Senate proceedings, because the provincial governors issue was now before the High Court and also being dealt with by SADC Facilitator President Zuma. At the same time he reaffirmed the party position that the governors’ reappointments were not constitutional.

New MDC-M Minister and Deputy Minister Sworn In

On 9th December President Mugabe swore in the new:

Minister of State in the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration – Moses Mzila Ndlovu [MP for Bulilima West] [he fills the place of the late Gibson Sibanda, who died on 23rd August].

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs – Rabson Makhula [Senator for Nkayi] [he fills the post formerly held by new Minister Ndlovu].

ZANU-PF Congress

The ZANU-PF National People’s Congress runs from 15th to 18th December. It will kick off with a politburo meeting on Wednesday the 15th in Harare followed by the main Congress in Mutare on the 17th and 18th.

On the House of Assembly Order Paper for this Week

Tuesday may be the House of Assembly’s last sitting day of 2010, as the ZANU-PF national congress commences the following day and in previous years Parliament has always adjourned to allow this event to take place.

Senate’s recommended amendments to Finance Bill: The main item of business will be consideration of three amendments to the Finance Bill recommended by the Senate on Friday. Under the special rules applicable to money bills the House of Assembly is not obliged to accept these recommendations, and the Bill can be submitted to the President for his assent either with or without the recommended changes, as the House decides. The recommendations are that members of the ZIMRA board, the Procurement Board and the Reserve Bank board should be restricted to sitting on only two statutory boards, rather than three as proposed by the Minister of Finance in the Bill.

Deposit Protection Corporation Bill: The Bill awaits its Second Reading. It envisages the setting up of the Deposit Protection Corporation and Deposit Protection Fund to provide for the compensation of depositors in failed financial institutions. This will replace the existing compensation scheme, which is spelled out in the Banking Act and in regulations made under that Act.

Other Bills: Progress on the three bills currently with the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] [see below] is unlikely.

Other items: These include motions for discussion of adverse reports by the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] on statutory instruments, motions on reports and the ongoing debate on the President’s speech opening Parliament in July.

In the House of Assembly Last Week

POSA Amendment Bill: Hon Gonese’s private member’s bill went through its Committee Stage, during which the House agreed to three amendments to the bill proposed by Mr Gonese. The amendments received a prompt non-adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee and the Bill was then passed and transmitted to the Senate. The Senate’s adjournment until 8th February means that the bill cannot now become law this year. [Electronic version of bill as passed by the House available – please address requests to veritas@yoafrica.com.]

Fast-tracking Bills: On 25th November the House approved the fast-tracking of the money bills and all the other bills already on the order paper [see below]. The resolution also approved late-night and Friday sittings and the suspension of Questions on Wednesday. [Comment: Fast-tracking of Budget and other end-of-year business has become routine, but remains a deplorable practice, as it undermines well-established procedures designed to ensure proper consideration of Parliamentary business. Surely any government should be able to plan ahead. Also, the tradition of allowing a party congress to take precedence over Parliamentary work needs to be reconsidered.]

Money Bills: On Tuesday the debate on the Budget continued, with portfolio committee chairpersons reporting to the House following the post-Budget analysis carried out by the committees. The Minister’s allocations attracted much criticism and there were calls for changes. Hon Zhanda, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance etc. attempted to have the debate postponed until MPs had been able to meet the Minister of Finance for further discussion, but was ruled out of order by the Speaker. On Wednesday the Minister replied to the debate, putting up a spirited defence and pointing out that the whole Government had approved the Budget. On MPs’ calls for a larger allocation for constituency development funds he pointed out that 39 MPs had failed to activate their constituency funds this year. In the end, despite the rumblings of discontent, there was no backbench revolt and on Tuesday the Estimates of Expenditure for 2011, the Finance Bill and Appropriation (2011) Bill were passed without further debate. On Wednesday the Revised Estimates for 2010 and the related Appropriation (2010) Amendment (No. 2) Bill; [making adjustments to appropriations for 2010 as a result of revenue collections for 2010 having exceeded expectations] were passed without debate. The two money bills for 2011 and the Appropriation (2010) Amendment (No. 2) Bill were transmitted to the Senate.

Bill Passed:

  • Energy Regulatory Authority Bill – the Bill passed its Committee Stage during which numerous amendments were made at the request of the Minister of Energy and Power Development. The PLC returned a non-adverse report on the amendments and the bill was passed and transmitted to the Senate.

Bills still in House

Motions: Discussion commenced on the report of the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Portfolio Committee on the operations of the National Social Security Authority [NSSA] and the report on the November session of the Pan-African Parliament.

In the Senate Last Week

Like the House of Assembly, the Senate approved the suspension of Standing Orders to enable pending business to be fast-tracked. It sat on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before adjourning until 8th February 2011.

Budget Bills: The Senate received the three money bills from the House of Assembly on Wednesday. It passed Appropriation (2011) Bill and the Appropriation (2010) Amendment (No. 2) Bill on Thursday. On Friday it also passed the Finance Bill but recommended three amendments for consideration by the House of Assembly. [Note: Under the Constitution the Senate cannot amend a money bill but can recommend amendments which the House of Assembly is then free to accept or reject.]

International Agreements Approved: The Senate approved the following international agreements in accordance with section 111B of the Constitution:

  • Agreement on the Establishment of the Zambezi Watercourse Commission
  • Agreement on the Establishment of the Limpopo Watercourse Commission
  • Loan Agreement between Government of Zimbabwe and Export-Import Bank of China relating to Zimbabwe’s 2G and 3G National Network Rollout Project being implemented by Net One
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation on Water Supply and Wastewater Management Policy and Technology
  • Agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments [BIPPA]

Bills carried forward to February next year: The Senate adjourned without dealing with the following bills on its Order Paper:

  • Zimbabwe National Security Council Amendment Bill [transmitted from the House of Assembly in November]
  • POSA Amendment Bill [transmitted from the House of Assembly on 8th December]
  • Energy Regulatory Authority Bill [transmitted from the House of Assembly on 9th December]

Bills Awaiting Introduction in Parliament

The following bills have been printed and gazetted, but have not yet been listed on the Order Paper for presentation in Parliament:

  • General Laws Amendment Bill [gazetted 22nd October]
  • National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill [gazetted 5th November]
  • SI 154/2010 – Road Traffic Regulations – Postponement Not Gazetted

Despite confirmation by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport that the commencement of SI 154/2010 would be postponed from 1st December until 1st June 2011, no statutory instrument has been gazetted making this postponement legally effective. This is of concern to non-compliant motorists. Veritas has been assured that the statutory instrument is being prepared and will be gazetted soon.

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

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