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Parliamentary update - Bill Watch 10/2011
March 15, 2011
of Assembly has adjourned to Tuesday 22nd March
The Senate has
adjourned to Tuesday 29th March
of New Speaker
Court judgment of 10th March setting aside the election of Mr
Lovemore Moyo as Speaker of the House of Assembly, the first business
of the House when it resumes is to elect a new Speaker. In terms
of both the Constitution and House of Assembly Standing Orders,
the House cannot transact any business until a new Speaker has been
elected. [See Bill
Watch 9/2010 of 13th March for more on the court case and the
election of a new Speaker.]
the House may be delayed: If preparations are not in place for an
election to be held on Tuesday 22nd when the House is due to resume,
the Clerk of Parliament may fix another date for the election.
If there is
more than one candidate, the election, as required by Standing Orders,
will be conducted by the Clerk of Parliament by “a secret
ballot”. It was this secret ballot requirement the Supreme
Court said had not been observed in the Moyo case - six MPs, after
marking their ballot papers in the privacy of the polling booth,
showed their marked ballot papers to colleagues before depositing
them in the ballot box. Both the Clerk and MPs now have the Supreme
Court judgment to guide them as to what constitutes a secret ballot.
eligible for election are persons who are or have been members of
the House of Assembly and are not members of the Cabinet, Ministers
or Deputy Ministers. Lovemore Moyo is free to stand for re-election
and the MDC-T are likely to support him, although no official statement
has been made. ZANU-PF is still consulting, but the State press
says it is “likely” that Simon Khaya Moyo, the party’s
national chairman, will be nominated. He is a former MP. The other
candidate in the August 2008 election was Paul Themba Nyathi, a
former MP put forward by the then MDC-M, and there is talk that
he may be put forward again in the hope that he may be a compromise
candidate. Another suggested name as a compromise candidate has
been former Speaker Mr Cyril Ndebele, who is respected by all parties.
- Current party strengths in the House were given in Bill Watch
9/2010 of 13th March. The actual numbers present for the vote may
be affected by MPs being unavoidably absent through illness or official
travel commitments or, in the case of MDC-T MPs, detention in police
cells or remand prison, although obviously the parties will do their
best to get all available members to attend. The Clerk of Parliament
has ruled that Lovemore Moyo cannot now resume the Matobo North
seat he won in the 2008 parliamentary election and therefore he
cannot have a vote.
is decided by a simple majority.
Both the House
of Assembly and the Senate sat last Tuesday [House 2 hours 22 minutes,
Senate 1 hour 23 minutes] and Wednesday [House 3 hours 6 minutes,
Senate 1 hour 21 minutes].
House of Assembly Last Week
Amendment Bill [See Bill
Watch 7/2010 of 5th March for a commentary on the Bill.] The
Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] and the Minister of Justice
reached a compromise over this Bill. In order to avoid an adverse
PLC report on the Bill’s amendments to the Copyright and Neighbouring
Rights Act and the Civil Aviation Act, the Minister has agreed to:
the copyright clause, clause 16. This clause would prohibit the
publication of texts of Acts, statutory instruments, court judgments
and public records without Government permission. Veritas made
submissions to the PLC and the Portfolio Committee on Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that this clause is an unconstitutional
infringement of 20 of the Constitution, which protects freedom
of expression, contrary to openness and transparency in government,
and against regional best practice. [See Bill
Watch 44/2010 of 31st October 2010.]
- modify the
civil aviation clause, clause 7. This clause would allow the Civil
Aviation Authority to impose monetary “civil penalties”
for contraventions of aviation regulations, without allowing the
alleged offenders any recourse to the ordinary courts of the land.
A civil penalty would be payable for every day a contravention
continued. In a submission to the portfolio committee on Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, civil aviation industry stakeholders
argued that the clause would infringe their constitutional right
to have their civil rights and obligations decided by the courts
section 18]. The modification will allow these civil penalties
to be challenged in court.
The Bill will
receive a non-adverse report from the PLC, conditional on the agreed
changes being made. This will clear the way for presentation of
the Bill after the House comes back on 22nd March. Note this is
a clear example that lobbying Parliament can be effective in leading
to modification of government proposals and better laws being passed.
Development Corporation Amendment Bill received a non-adverse report
from the PLC and passed its Second Reading. It now awaits its Committee
and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill was introduced on 9th March
and referred to the PLC. The portfolio committee will hold a public
hearing on the Bill on 15th March.
Corporation Bill is still awaiting its Second Reading debate [for
summary see Bill Watch 8/2010 of 6th March].
- Two motions were debated:
- Right to
Housing - The Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works
and National Housing calls for the right to housing to be recognised
as a constitutional right.
- Review of
Local Authority Acts - This MDC-T motion calls for the Urban Councils
and Rural District Councils Acts to be reviewed in the light of
unwarranted interference in local authority management by Minister
of Local Government Ignatious Chombo of ZANU-PF. MDC-T contributors
accused Dr Chombo of abusing his position for personal as well
as political gain.
There was a
slightly improved Ministerial attendance and questions dealt with
of foreign-owned companies - Minister of Industry and Commerce Welshman
Ncube said recent statements by ZANU-PF threatening takeover of
foreign-owned companies did not represent government policy.
teaching liberation history in schools - Minister of Education David
Coltart said government policy was that only qualified teachers
should be employed in schools, and urged MPs not to politicise education.
Violence - Minister
of State for National Healing Ndlovu said the Police Commissioner-General’s
recent utterances on violence were unfortunate and undermined the
work of his ministry.
The House approved
two agreements under section 111B of the Constitution:
Agreement on Cultural Co-operation concluded in Brazil on 16th
Convention against Doping in Sport.
Senate Last Week
Amendment Bill Not dealt with. The Bill has dropped to the bottom
of the agenda pending finalisation of the procedural changes needed
to allow Mr Gonese to speak to his Bill in the Senate although he
is not a Senator. [Electronic version of Bill as passed by House
of Assembly available.]
- None. Output is awaited from the House of Assembly.
was brief debate on two new motions:
Government’s Achievements and Failures - This was introduced
by Senator S Ncube [MDC]. Lack of progress on national healing
was mentioned by some Senators; others said the country was not
ready for elections.
- Peace and
Security Thematic Committee’s Report on Role of Ministry
of Foreign Affairs in Maintaining Peace and Security in Zimbabwe.
The report gives an overview of the Ministry’s functions
and the challenges it faces, and catalogues the Ministry’s
assessment of its achievements.
Governor Gideon Gono failed to give evidence to the Portfolio Committee
on Mines and Energy on 7th March. Dr Gono pleaded other national
duties and said he would attend at a later date. Continuing its
investigation into the closure of the Shabanie and Mashava asbestos
mines, the committee wants him to throw light on allegations of
externalising foreign currency leveled against Mutumwa Mawere and
his SMM companies prior to the Government’s takeover of the
asbestos mining group. The Secretary for Home Affairs told the committee
that his Ministry’s investigations into Mr Mawere and SMM
had failed to unearth evidence of wrongdoing, leading to the lifting
last year of their six-year specification under the Prevention of
and Awaiting Presidential Assent and Gazetting as Acts [Electronic
versions available] [Proof-reading and printing has to be completed
before submission to the President for signature.]
Bills in Parliament
printed for presentation in Parliament – None
and General Notices
Gazette of 11th March contained no statutory instruments at all,
and no General Notices worth noting.
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