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Parliament to resume sitting Tuesday 28th February - Bill Watch 7/2012
Veritas
February 26, 2012

Both Houses will resume sitting this coming Tuesday 28th February

Parliament

Next week’s sittings of the Senate and House of Assembly will be their first since they adjourned in mid-December. Parliamentarians have, however, been at work in Senate thematic committees and House of Assembly portfolio committees since 16th January. The Clerk has said that since their sitting allowances have been resumed more MPs are turning up at these meetings.

On the Order Papers for Tuesday

Senate

Bills – none

Motions

There are three motions listed:

Restoration of the Public Order and Security [POSA] Amendment Bill

Hon Gonese’s Private Member’s Bill was passed by the House of Assembly without opposition and transmitted to the Senate in December 2010. Debate in the Senate started on the 3rd August 2011 but was adjourned after ZANU-PF objections. The Bill then lapsed at the end of the last Parliamentary session on 5th September. On 11th October Mr Gonese proposed his motion that the Bill be restored to the Order Paper and several ZANU-PF Senators spoke against the motion. Debate was adjourned to allow the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Senator Chinamasa, to explain whether amending POSA was still being separately considered by the GPA negotiators. As Mr Chinamasa will be out of the country until 20th March, attending the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, it remains to be seen if the Bill will remain stalled until his return.

Partisan nature of media

This motion by MDC-T’s Senator Komichi’s condemns hate speech and abuse of freedom of speech by the “partisan media” and calls for the relevant thematic committee to investigate these “unethical and unprofessional activities” and report its findings expeditiously. This motion was introduced last year but has not yet been debated.

African Parliamentary Speakers Conference

A new motion asking the Senate to take note of a report on the Conference of Speakers of Parliaments of the African Parliamentary Union held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea from 29th November to 3rd December 2010.

Questions for reply by Ministers

Only two questions are listed for reply on Thursday, both for the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs:

Lack of Community Development Funds for Senators - The question is why elected Senators have not been allocated money under the Community Development Fund scheme in spite of the fact that “they are elected officials and there is a lot expected of them from the electorate”.

Whips - The question is why there are only Deputy Whips in the Senate when the House of Assembly has Chief Whips.

House of Assembly

Bills

  • National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill - This Bill, presented by the Minister of Industry and Commerce, is the only Bill ready for debate. It has already had its First Reading and been given a non-adverse report by the Parliamentary Legal Committee. It now awaits its Second Reading stage, which will start with a speech by the Minister explaining the principles of the Bill, followed by contributions from members. If the Second Reading is approved the Bill will move on to the Committee Stage when it will be scrutinised clause by clause and amendments may be proposed.
  • Two Bills ready for presentation - Two other Bills are ready for First Reading, although not listed for Tuesday. These are the Urban Councils Amendment Bill [this is a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Hon Matimba, MDC-T; he got the House’s permission for this Bill in October last year, following which it was officially gazetted and is now ready for Hon Matimba to present for its First Reading] and the Older Persons Bill [to be presented for its First Reading by the Minister of Labour and Social Services].

Motions

There are 7 motions carried forward from last year. These have already been partly debated and then adjourned for further contributions from MPs or winding-up by the proposers. They include motions:

  • calling for the enactment of revised Indigenisation Regulations;
  • condemning political utterances by service chiefs;
  • on the report on Shabani-Mashava mines issued by the Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee’s. [available from veritas@mango.zw]

There are three new motions:

  • on the Ministry of Local Government Budget performance This is motion for the House to take note of a portfolio committee report on the Ministry’s budget performance for the third quarter of 2011.
  • on the Public Service audit The motion demands that Government tables the payroll audit and provides a road map to deal with the unlawfully employed workers appearing on the payroll within 14 days from adoption of the motion.
  • on Air Zimbabwe The motion calls on the Government to put the current fleet out to pasture and privatise the airline.

Questions for reply by Ministers

There are 18 questions listed for Wednesday afternoon, most carried over from last year.

Topics raised include:

Health

The question asks what the Ministry has done to ensure that it achieves Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 which relate to reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases and whether these goals can be met by the 2015 deadline.

CIO members in politics

The question for Minister Sekeramayi is why three named full-time CIO employees are allowed to hold office as members of the ZANU-PF central committee.

Late provision of funds to Ministries

The question for the Minister of Finance is how Ministries which receive budget transfers late in November or December can utilise the budget allocation meaningfully before the expiry of the financial year at the end of December, when unused funds have to be surrendered to Treasury.

President’s 88th Birthday Interviews

The president has given several interviews both for radio and the press – to mark the occasion of his birthday. Of significance for the future of the inclusive government were two remarks on:

Elections in 2012?

“They just must take place with or without a new constitution. definitely I will exercise my presidential powers in accordance with the main principal law, the Constitution of our country and announce when the election will take place. And I will do this.”

SADC facilitator Zuma

Mr Mugabe said ZANU-PF might be forced to reject SA President Zuma as SADC-appointed facilitator: "We can reject Zuma very easily". He also criticized statements by Lindiwe Zulu, spokesperson for President Zuma’s facilitation team, implying conduct exhibiting “bias towards another party in the coalition government".

Zuma Remains Mediator

Both SADC Executive Secretary Salomao and Ms Zulu have commented on the President’s remarks on President Zuma’s position. Mr Salomao confirmed that Mr Zuma remains the mediator and is not a party mediator but a SADC mediator appointed by the SADC summit, and that any complaints should therefore be directed to SADC. He knew of no such complaints. Ms Zulu said President Zuma and his facilitation team were mandated by SADC and report to SADC. “We have said it to all the principals … that if they have any problems with us, they should follow proper procedures to register them.”

EU Sanctions Eased

On 17th February the European Union:

  • revoked the asset freezes and visa bans on 51 individuals and 20 organisations previously listed, leaving 112 individuals and 11 organisations still subject to these freezes and bans
  • suspended the visa bans on Foreign Affairs Minister Mumbengegwi and Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Chinamasa to enable them to travel to Brussels as members of Zimbabwe's re-engagement team with the EU
  • extend its restrictions on development assistance for only six months instead of a full year.

The Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe, Sr Aldo Dell’Ariccia said this had been done “in recognition of progress made and to encourage further reforms”, and that achievements made “deserved a gesture”. He cited progress on crafting the new constitution and recent efforts to free up local media and stop hate speech.

[Comment: There is still much to be done – for instance, the airwaves are still to be opened up and the Human Rights Commission has not been made operational nearly 2 years after its members were appointed. It is to be hoped that the EU’s gesture will indeed encourage further reforms.]

Status of Bills as at 24th February 2012

[no changes since Bill Watch 2/2012 of 29th January]

[Available from veritas@mango.zw]

Bills passed by Parliament awaiting Presidential assent/gazetting as Acts

  • Small Enterprises Development Corporation [SEDCO] Amendment Bill [sent to President’s Office by Parliament on 30th September 2011]
  • Deposit Protection Corporation Bill [sent to President’s Office by Parliament on 8th December 2011]

Bill awaiting Second Reading in the House of Assembly

  • National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill

Bills gazetted and awaiting presentation [these can be introduced in either House]

  • Older Persons Bill [gazetted 9th September]
  • Urban Councils Amendment Bill [as gazetted by Parliament on 16th December]

Lapsed Bills from previous session awaiting restoration to Senate Order Paper

  • Public Order and Security [POSA] Amendment Bill [Private Member’s Bill]

Lapsed Bills from previous session awaiting restoration to House of Assembly Order Paper

Statutory Instruments and Government Gazette

[Please note that electronic versions are not available from Veritas]

  • Bills and Acts

No Bills or Acts were gazetted this week.

Statutory Instruments

Customs duty SI 22/2012 grants 3-year suspensions of duty on goods for three named mining locations. SI 22A/2012 restores clothing and shoes to the list of goods covered by the $300 rebate on travellers’ effects.

Ethanol exempt from VAT SI 21/2012 makes ethanol fuel exempt from VAT.

Collective bargaining agreement SI 23/2012 sets out a collective bargaining agreement, signed on 3rd December 2011, for Harare municipal workers covering basic salary increases with effect from 1st January 2011.

General Notices

Broadcasting licences – application deadlines extended GN 42/2011 extends the deadline for applications for free-to-air local commercial radio broadcasting licences to 29th February 2012 [14 are available in 14 different centres]. GN 41/2012 extends the deadline for applications content distribution broadcasting licences [these cover services received through satellite transmission].

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