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Parliamentary Update - Bill Watch 15/2011
April 01, 2011

The House of Assembly has adjourned to Tuesday 5th April

The Senate has adjourned to Tuesday 10th May

Roy Bennett’s Senate Seat At Risk

Senator Bennett has now, without the leave of the Senate, missed more than 21 sittings of the Senate during the current Parliamentary session - Tuesday’s sitting was the 21st. This exposes him to loss of his seat if ZANU-PF manage to get one-half of the total membership of the Senate to vote for a resolution that his seat should become vacant. With support from the Senator chiefs, ZANU-PF would have the votes to achieve this. If Mr Bennett loses his Senate seat this will provide President Mugabe with another reason for refusing to appoint Mr Bennett as Deputy Minister of Agriculture. [Ministers and Deputy Ministers are required to be members of Parliament.] Filling the vacancy should be straightforward. The seat is one of the four appointed non-constituency Senate seats created for MDC-T by Article 20.1.9(b) of the GPA, as incorporated into the Constitution by Constitution Amendment No. 19 [there were also two such seats for MDC-M]. Holders of these four seats were nominated by MDC-T in 2009 and formally appointed by the President. According to Article 20.1.10, if a vacancy occurs in any of these seats it must be filled by a nominee of the party that held it before the vacancy. So it is up to MDC-T to nominate a person qualified to be a Senator – and it could re-nominate Mr Bennett, but he would have to negotiate his return to take it up.

In the House of Assembly This Week

Apart from the swearing-in of two new ZANU-PF MPs and the election of the Speaker on Tuesday 29th March, no business was conducted in the House of Assembly this week. After the election the Speaker adjourned the House until Tuesday 5th April. [See Bill Watch 13/2011 of 31st March for details of Tuesday’s proceedings.]

In the Senate This Week

The Senate sat on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but only briefly – 40 minutes, 25 minutes and 15 minutes – and adjourned until Tuesday 10th May, after the school holidays. It did not get round to the only Bill on the Order Paper – the stalled POSA Amendment Bill.

Two New ZANU-PF Non-Constituency Senators Sworn In:

  • Rugare Gumbo on Tuesday 29th March
  • Simon Khaya Moyo on Thursday 31st March, following his unsuccessful bid to become Speaker of the House of Assembly. Reports suggest Mr Moyo is to be appointed a Minister of State for National Healing, to take over from Vice-President Nkomo the National Healing duties that he has continued to perform since his elevation from Minister of State to Vice-President in December 2009.

The new Senators fill the two ZANU-PF appointed seats left vacant by the death of late Vice-President Joseph Msika and Vice-President Nkomo’s recent move to the House of Assembly [see Bill Watch 13/2011 of 31st March for comment on this move].

New Senate Vacancy: Senator David Karimanzira, Provincial Governor for Harare Metropolitan Province, died on 24th March. As provincial governors are ex officio Senators, this vacancy will be filled by whoever the President appoints to succeed Mr Karimanzira. It remains to be seen whether President Mugabe will appoint an MDC-T nominee in accordance with the agreement on sharing governorships between the three GPA parties, reached by the party negotiators in 2009.

Debates: On Tuesday the chairperson of the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS introduced the committee’s report on Access to Treatment. On Wednesday Senator Mandaba introduced his motion on the effect of economic sanctions, calling for the government to institute a class action against the European Union in the European Court of Justice to get EU sanctions set aside [this is the same motion originally introduced by Deputy Minister Georgias but withdrawn by him when the Senate President ruled that Ministers and Deputy Ministers could not bring up such motions.] On Thursday Senator Chimbudzi spoke about the report on Access to Treatment produced by the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS.

Coming up in the House of Assembly Next Week

Bills When the House gets back into its normal routine on Tuesday 5th April it will have four Bills to deal with:

  • Small Enterprises Development Corporation Amendment Bill now awaiting Committee Stage. [Electronic version available.]
  • Deposit Protection Corporation Bill now awaiting Second Reading.
  • General Laws Amendment Bill now awaiting Second Reading. The Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] agreed to give it a non-adverse report conditional on the Minister making changes to the Bill as requested by PLC [see Bill Watch 10/2011 of 15th March for details]. [Electronic version available.] Two portfolio committees – the one on Justice and the one on Local Government – are preparing reports on the Bill, so it may not come up until late in the week.
  • National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill now awaiting reports from the PLC and from the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce, which held a well-attended public hearing on the Bill. [Electronic version of Bill available.]

Question Time – Wednesday 6th April There are 15 written questions with notice on the Order Paper for reply by Ministers, some dating back to November 2010. ZANU-PF Chief Whip Joram Gumbo has put down new questions for the Minister of Local Government asking what Government’s policy is on:

  • business licences that are “counteractive” to the Government’s indigenisation drive
  • prohibitive rentals in Old Mutual shopping malls.

Parliamentary Committees

Committee Meetings Committee meetings continued as normal in spite of developments in the Speakership saga.

Committee Reports Electronic versions of the following reports are available:

  • Thematic Committee on Peace and Security – “The Role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Promoting and Safeguarding Peace and Security in Zimbabwe”.
  • Portfolio Committee on Public Works and National Housing – “Constitutionalisation of Housing”
  • Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology – “The Fee Structure, Cadetship Support Scheme and Scholarship Programmes in Institutions of Higher Learning”
  • Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development – “Air Zimbabwe and the Civil Aviation Authority”
  • Portfolio Committee on State Enterprises and Parastatals Management – “Supply of Water Treatment Chemicals by Chemplex Corporation to City of Harare”.

Update on Legislation

Bills Passed and Awaiting Presidential Assent and Gazetting as Acts [Electronic versions available]

Bills in Parliament [see above]

Bills Gazetted and Awaiting Presentation in Parliament – None

Bills Being Printed for Presentation in Parliament – None

Statutory Instruments and General Notices

Government Gazette of 25th March

Mining Sector Indigenisation The only noteworthy instruments gazetted were GN 114/2011, setting out the minimum indigenisation requirements for the mining sector, and SI 34/2011 containing amendments to the main Indigenisation Regulations. Both came into effect on 25th March. [Electronic versions of GN and SI available.]

Government Gazette of 1st April Two SIs are worth noting, both effective from 1st April:

Commencement of Audit Office Act SI 42/2011 brings the Audit Office Act [Act No. 12 of 2009] into force with effect from the 1st April. The Act establishes the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s Office as a separate entity outside the Public Service. [Electronic version of Act available.]

Postponement of Commencement of Motor Vehicle Equipment Regulations SI 44/2011 postpones the commencement of SI 154/2010 [the new Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use) Regulations] until the 1st July 2011; this delays until the 1st July the enforcement of new requirements such as all vehicles having to carry warning triangles, fire extinguishers etc. The SI also fixes a new cut-off date, 31st October 2011, for importation of left-hand drive vehicles. [Electronic version of SI 44/2011 available – but not SI 154/2010.]

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