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Parliamentary update for week ending 19th February - Bill Watch 5/2011
February 21, 2011

The House of Assembly sat last week and adjourned until 22nd February

The Senate did not sit

Parliamentary Update

Committee on Standing Rules and Orders [CSRO]

At its meeting on Monday 14th February the CSRO made decisions on:

Prime Minister’s Question Time Once a month there will be Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Assembly [Wednesday afternoon] and the Senate [Thursday afternoon], probably on consecutive days.

Right of Audience in Both Houses for Introducer of Private Member’s Bill CSRO approved in principle an amendment to Standing Orders to allow a member responsible for a Private Member’s Bill to speak to his or her Bill in both Houses. This will, for instance, allow Mr Gonese to speak to his current POSA Amendment Bill in the Senate even though he is not a Senator. [The general rule is that a member of Parliament may sit and speak only in the House of which he or she is a member. A Vice-President or a Minister may sit and speak in both Houses, but may only vote in the House of which he or she is a member. This allows a Minister responsible for a Government Bill to pilot it through both Houses. But there is no current rule allowing a backbencher responsible for a Private Member’s Bill to speak to that Bill in the House of which he or she is not a member.]

In the House of Assembly Last Week

The House sat on Tuesday and Wednesday 15th and 16th February. It did not overwork, sitting for just under two hours on Tuesday and under one and three quarter hours on Wednesday.


General Laws Amendment Bill This was introduced on 16th February, read the first time and referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee. [Electronic version available] [See Bill Watch 44/2010 of 31st October for an opinion that the Bill’s clause imposing copyright protection on the texts of Acts, statutory instruments and court judgments is unconstitutional.]


  • On Tuesday the House approved a motion formally ratifying Parliament’s membership of the SADC Organisation of Public Accounts Committees [SADCOPAC].
  • The chairperson of the portfolio committee on Small and Medium Enterprises presented the committee’s report on the Status of SMEs in Harare. The report’s conclusion is that Government has failed to provide adequate capital for the SME growth that is vital for economic growth and reduction of poverty.

Ministerial Statement

Also on Tuesday, the Minister of Finance made a statement on the implementation and management of the 2011 Budget and dealt with follow-up questions raised by members.

Question Time [Wednesday]

Questions responded to included:

Failure to appoint Anti-Corruption Commission The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs acknowledged there had been a delay in appointing new members to the Commission but said the matter was being attended to. The Government was looking for people “who will be objective and will not use corruption as a political weapon”, and there had been wide-ranging and deep consultations. [Note: Under the Constitution the Commission has 4 to 9 members appointed by the President in consultation with Parliament’s Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.]

Public Service Audit The Minister of Public Service said the audit, by Ernst and Young India, had been submitted to but not yet considered by Cabinet. The party principals had been given the report last November. He undertook to make a full statement to the House once Cabinet had dealt with the matter.

Convention against Torture Asked to explain why Zimbabwe has still not ratified this Convention, the Minister of Justice said that in discussions with the United Nations Geneva Office he had undertaken to conduct workshops in Zimbabwe to ensure understanding of the Convention before it was ratified. The workshops had not yet been conducted “because of the busy schedule of our work”.

Impounding of vehicles for failure to pay “spot fines” Co-Minister of Home Affairs Theresa Makone expressed the opinion that it is unacceptable and unlawful for the police to impound a vehicle where the driver does not pay a “spot fine”.

New Vacancy in Senate

The death of Senator Chief Chimombe of Manicaland on 26th January created a second vacancy in the ranks of Senator chiefs. The first arose from the death of Senator Chief Bidi of Matabeleland South in 2009. A vacancy of this sort should be filled by a chief from the province concerned elected by the provincial assembly of chiefs at a meeting summoned by Presidential proclamation gazetted within 14 days of notification of the vacancy. The Government has to date failed to hold, not only an assembly of chiefs to replace Senator Chief Bidi, but also by-elections to fill the many vacant constituency seats in both Houses.

Government Gazette of 18th February

No Bills and no Acts were gazetted

Statutory Instrument New fees for registration of factories SI 16/2011 gazetted new fees for the annual registration of factories under the Factories and Works Act.

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