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Parliament adjourns until March 8 - Bill Watch 6/2011
February 28, 2011
House of Assembly and the Senate met on 22nd and 23rd February,
then both Houses adjourned until Tuesday 8th March.
returned to the country on 20th February after a week away for a
medical check-up. He had a brief meeting with the Prime Minister
the next day.
not meet while the President was away, but did meet on Tuesday 22nd
February. [The only other Cabinet meeting this year was on 8th February.]
No extra Cabinet meeting was scheduled although there is a backlog
of work awaiting Cabinet attention.
facilitation team members arrived in Harare on Tuesday to work with
representatives from each of the three GPA parties and others on
the "roadmap" to the next elections. They met JOMIC, MDC-T,
MDC, ZAPU, ZANU-PF and, on Friday, the party principals.
The GPA principals
[Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara] met on Friday morning.
dispute has still not been resolved and will not be until the end
of the court case brought by dissenting MDC-M members challenging
the validity of the leadership changes made at the party's congress
in the country is causing further rifts between the two main parties.
In the House
of Assembly Last Week
Protection Corporation Bill did not come up for Second Reading.
The Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance, Economic Planning and
Investment Promotion has asked for more time to consider the Bill
in the light of representations made to it by the banking sector.
Two Bills are
under consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]:
- General Laws
Amendment Bill [Electronic version available] [See Bill
Watch 41/2010 for an opinion that the Bill's clause imposing
copyright protection on the texts of Acts, statutory instruments
and court judgments is unconstitutional.]
- Small Enterprises
Development Corporation Amendment Bill
Both Bills have
had their First Reading, but there will be no further proceedings
until the PLC has reported on their consistency or otherwise with
the Declaration of Rights and other provisions of the Constitution.
The PLC meets on Tuesday 1st March.
might have ended without debate on any of the 16 agenda items had
not Hon F.M. Sibanda made a brief contribution to the take-note
motion on the Education Portfolio Committee's report on early childhood
development. On Wednesday there was brief debate on portfolio committee
reports on Air Zimbabwe, the Civil Aviation Authority and the operations
restrict questions without notice to questions seeking information
on matters of Government policy, although the Speaker occasionally
allows some relaxation of this rule if a Minister is prepared to
answer a question seeking factual information. When members want
factual information, questions should be submitted in writing and
they are printed in the Order Paper. This gives Ministers time to
obtain the required information. Topics covered last week included:
- Cabinet responsibility
for Budget - Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara confirmed that formulation
of the national Budget is a collective Cabinet responsibility
and that if individual Ministers have problems with Budget allocations
the proper forum to air them is Cabinet rather than political
forces personnel and Constituency Development Funds - The Minister
of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs stated that security
force personnel should not be playing any part in the administration
activities at schools - Asked about political harassment of teachers,
the Minister of Education said he had issued a circular banning
the use of schools for political purposes. Later this would also
be covered by regulations.
presence of Zimbabwe National Army personnel in Libya - Asked
whether press stories about ZNA personnel being in Libya in support
of Colonel Gaddafi were true, the Minister of Defence did not
answer directly, but said the Minister of Foreign Affairs might
know whether there are "African mercenaries" in Libya;
he did, however, concede that the Defence Act does not allow serving
ZNA members to participate in "events outside this country
where they use arms".
25 questions on the Order Paper for reply by Ministers, 12 of them
dating back to last November. Only one was dealt with, by the Minister
of Education. The other Ministers concerned were not present. Both
the Speaker and MPs expressed dissatisfaction with the absentee
Ministers' cavalier disregard of the House, and Deputy Prime Minister
Mutambara undertook to ensure their presence in future. Both the
Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have given similar
Senate Last Week
The Senate resumed
on Tuesday after a one-week break.
Excluding Ministers and Deputy Ministers from Participation in Private
On Tuesday the
President of the Senate ruled that Ministers and Deputy Ministers
cannot introduce or debate private motions in the Senate, saying
this is the preserve of backbenchers. Following this ruling Senator
Tapela [MDC], Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education,
was not allowed to give notice of a motion, although Senator Georgias
[ZANU-PF], Deputy Minister of Public Works, had proposed an anti-sanctions
only two weeks before. The President of the Senate said this had
been a mistake. The ruling is regarded as controversial, given that
Standing Orders are silent on the issue and that in the past Ministers
and Deputy Ministers have taken part in debates on private motions.
- On Tuesday Senator Komichi [MDC-T] introduced his motion condemning
the "unabated incidents of violence in Mbare, Budiriro and
surrounding areas and calling on the police to maintain law and
order professionally and bring the culprits to book. Debate continued
on Wednesday. There were some heated exchanges when members accused
each other's parties of responsibility for fomenting the violence.
Government's achievements and failures - Deputy Minister Tapela's
notice of this motion was disallowed [see above], and notice of
the motion was then given by Senator S Ncube [MDC].
motion was withdrawn by Deputy Minister Georgias following the Senate
President's ruling [see above] and it was removed from the Order
The Second Reading
debate on Mr Gonese's Private
Member's Bill to amend the Public Order and Security Act [POSA]
did not commence. It is unlikely to come up until Parliament completes
processing the amendment to Standing Orders which will permit Mr
Gonese to speak to his Bill in the Senate – the amendment
was approved in principle by the Standing Rules and Orders Committee
on 14th February [see Bill
and Awaiting Presidential Assent and Gazetting as Acts [Printing
of these Acts for the President's signature is not yet complete.]
Bills in House
of Assembly [See In the House of Assembly This Week, above]
and Awaiting Introduction
and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill [gazetted 5th November 2010].
[Electronic version available] This Bill provides for the downgrading
of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission to a board with much
reduced powers and functions. Powers to fix prices and pricing standards
and control rentals, incomes and service charges are repealed. The
board will be an advisory body tasked with research and monitoring
functions. Price control will be covered by regulations and orders
under the Control of Goods Act, as it was before 2007.
printed for presentation in Parliament - None
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