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No banning of NGOs, ZANU-PF: No to Private Members' Bills: Last
week in Parliament - Bill Watch 10/2012
March 20, 2012
Houses of Parliament will sit again on Tuesday 20th March
Not Banned: Ministerial Statement
On 14th March
Labour and Social Welfare Minister Hon Mpariwa made a Ministerial
Statement in the House
of Assembly on 14th March in her capacity as Minister responsible
for Minister responsible for registering, de-registering and setting
the conditions of operations of NGOs [full text available from firstname.lastname@example.org].
Without referring directly to the recent action
by the Masvingo Provincial Governor [see Bill
Watch 5/2012 of 18th February] she confirmed that:
- all registered
NGOs are entitled to carry on their operations in any part of
Zimbabwe where their humanitarian and developmental services are
needed. Only de-registered organisations are prohibited from carrying
on any work.
- no NGOs
have been de-registered since the formation of the Inclusive
Government and as such no NGOs have been lawfully banned from
carrying on their operations in Zimbabwe.
- NGOs are
to be thanked for their work complementing Government’s
efforts to meet citizens’ needs, and it is not Government
policy to ban those who help us.
Mpariwa is the Minister responsible for the Private
Voluntary Organisations Act [PVO Act]. This is the Act under
which NGOs are registered.
Claims GPA Prohibits Private Members’ Bills
After a ZANU-PF
parliamentary caucus meeting last week their Chief Whip, Hon Joram
Gumbo, announced the caucus had agreed that it is not lawful for
any MP to introduce a Private Member’s Bill. They believe
that Article 20 of the GPA,
as enshrined in Schedule 8 to the Constitution
by Constitution Amendment No. 19, takes away the right of private
members to introduce Bills. The matter would be raised with the
The steps in
the party’s argument are as follows:
- during the
life of the GPA, Schedule 8 to the Constitution
prevails “notwithstanding anything to the contrary”
elsewhere in the Constitution [Comment: This is correct.]
- GPA Article
20.1.2(c), in Schedule 8 to the Constitution, says that “the
Cabinet shall have the responsibility to prepare and present to
Parliament, all such legislation and the instruments as maybe
necessary to implement the policies, and programmes of the National
Executive”. [Comment: This, too, is correct.]
1(3) of Schedule 4 to the Constitution, which entitles individual
MPs to introduce Private Members’ Bills, is overridden by
Article 20.1.2(c) and cannot be invoked as long as the GPA lasts.
[Comment: This proposition is questionable. Article 20.1.2(c)
merely re-states the conventional, traditional position that Government
Bills require Cabinet approval – presumably to make it quite
plain that individual Ministers in the inclusive government cannot
take Bills to Parliament without Cabinet approval. Provisions
for Government Bills and Private Members’ Bills have always
existed side by side. So it is difficult to see how Article 20.1.2(c),
by mere implication, rules out Private Members’ Bills completely.]
Bills that could
be affected by this new stance MDC-T MPs have put up three Private
Members’ Bills so far:
Amendment Bill - This has already been passed by the House
of Assembly but is presently stalled in the Senate.
Councils Amendment Bill - This was introduced with the permission
of the House. The report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee
is awaited. The Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban
Development has written to the Speaker informing him that his
Ministry is working on its own reforms of local government laws
and objecting to the Bill as contrary to the GPA.
- Bill to
repeal section 121(3) of the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act Hon Gonese has put down a motion,
not yet presented, seeking the leave of the House to introduce
Deputy Minister Sworn In
On 16th March
the President swore in ZANU-PF Senator for Chimanimani, Hon Monica
Mutsvangwa, as Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare. She
fills the vacancy left by Hon Tracy Mutinhiri, who left office in
December 2011 after expulsion from ZANU-PF and the consequential
loss of her Parliamentary seat.
Senate Last Week
no-one was ready to speak and the House sat for only 13 minutes,
prompting the Senate President to remind Senators that they should
not merely wait for Ministers to bring work to them, but could create
their own work by introducing motions for debate.
slightly longer sitting [37 minutes] several contributions were
made to the debate on Senator Komichi’s motion on the partisan
nature of the media.
the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs became
the first Minister to attend the Senate for Ministers’ Question
Time. Most of the sitting of 1 hour 13 minutes was taken up with
an informative question and answer session about Constituency Development
House of Assembly Last Week
First Monthly Statement to the House Honouring a pledge to keep
the House regularly informed about what is happening in Government,
the Prime Minister on Tuesday made a detailed statement
explaining the recently-adopted Government Work Plan for 2012. This
was followed by a question and answer session. The Prime Minister
said that in his next statement he would name Ministers who were
underperforming or failing to implement agreed Government policies
All agenda items
concerning Bills were carried forward untouched, including motions
to restore Bills to the Order Paper.
President’s Speech opening the Session
resumed on Tuesday and several contributions made.
wound up the debate on his motion calling for the audit report to
be presented to the House. the motion was then passed.
motions on Portfolio Committee reports came up for debate:
Flats housing project mismanagement
of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, presented this report,
containing revelations of improprieties in the allocation of flats
to beneficiaries. Several MPs contributed to the debate. It will
continue next week.
of Local Government budget performance
with the presiding officer having to remind members that general
complaints about the Minister’s exercise of statutory powers
were not covered by the motion.
of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development
presented the committee’s report on the sorry state of the
NRZ. The report’s 14 recommendations for Government action
include the appointment of a board of directors for the company
– it has had no board since June 2009. Debate started but
was interrupted when the House adjourned for lack of a quorum.
Minister Mutambara waxed eloquent on the need for Government vigilance
in negotiating mining rights, to ensure mining companies give the
country real value for the hugely valuable assets they are allowed
by police at roadblocks
of Home Affairs Hon Mohadi, grilled about spot fines, told the House
that Cabinet had condemned spot fines. So a policy to replace them
was being formulated, the aim being that erring motorists be given
tickets and pay admission of guilt fines at police stations or courts.
commuter bus windscreens
of Home Affairs Hon Makoni explained this practice is resorted to
if necessary to immobilise an offending driver disobeying lawful
police instructions to stop.
of National Housing said he had just presented to Cabinet his proposals
for a Land Developers Bill to control this sector.
The Deputy Minister
of Mines denied that the new fees were designed to deter indigenous
miners; the idea was to stop the holding of mining claims for speculative
Rwanda genocide suspect
of Foreign Affairs assured the House Zimbabwe would arrest and extradite
the individual named if he was found. It was bound to do so by international
mortality and protection of women from HIV/AIDS
Minister Khupe gave detailed answers on these topics.
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