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Parliament in recess until May - Bill Watch 15/2012
April 02, 2012
of Parliament have adjourned until Tuesday 15th May
meetings have been suspended until Monday 7th May
Break for Parliamentarians
The Senate and
the House of Assembly have started a six-week break and will only
resume sittings on the 15th May. This is in accordance with Parliament’s
policy that no sittings be scheduled during school holidays or weeks
coinciding with public holidays and national events. April sees
not only the Easter and Independence Day public holidays but also
the school holidays. 1st May is the Workers’ Day public holiday.
and Portfolio Committees to resume 7th May
will have a slightly shorter break – all Thematic Committee
and Portfolio Committee meetings are suspended from Monday 2nd April
to Monday 7th May.
as the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] will meet as necessary.
The break will
hold up progress on all Bills on the Order Papers. Bills affected
House of Assembly
Human Rights Commission Bill
The Second Reading
debate was concluded on 27th March, but the Committee Stage has
not started. The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs has tabled
amendments he intends to propose for adoption during the Committee
Stage [for details see Bill
Watch 14/2012 of 28th March].
On 27th March
the Speaker told the House that the Parliamentary Legal Committee
[PLC] has given an adverse report on this Bill. This means that
the House cannot proceed to the next stage [Second Reading] of the
Bill until the PLC chairperson, Hon Shepherd Mushonga, has proposed
the adoption of the adverse report in the House and the House has
decided whether or not to adopt the report – in other words,
whether or not the clauses in question are inconsistent with the
Any clause the House finds to be inconsistent with the Constitution
will then have to be dropped from the Bill or amended so as to remove
the inconsistency. [Please note: The text of the adverse report
has not been released, so it is not yet available. It is unlikely
to be released until the PLC chairperson has proposed its adoption
in the House.] It is possible that during the break the Minister
responsible – Hon Chinamasa, Minister of Justice and Legal
Affairs – will negotiate with the PLC on amendments which
will remove the need for an adverse report. Even if this is done
the Bill cannot proceed until the House sits again.
Private Member’s Bill to repeal section 121(3) of Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act
Hon Gonese has
delivered his speech proposing the adoption of his motion requesting
the leave of the House to introduce this Bill and there have been
contributions from several MPs, both for and against the motion.
The object of the Bill is to take away the power of a prosecutor
to stall the release of an accused person on bail for 7 days while
the Attorney-General considers whether or not to appeal against
the granting of bail. Debate was adjourned to give the responsible
Minister – the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs –
an opportunity to reply to points raised.
Private Member’s Bill to amend Urban
has already spoken in support of his motion for leave to introduce
this Bill and several MPs have contributed to the discussion. A
contribution from the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban
Development is expected before there is a vote on whether to allow
the Bill to be introduced.
This is a Ministry
of Labour and Social Welfare Bill waiting for the Minister’s
Second Reading speech.
Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill
This Bill is
waiting for the Second Reading speech from the Minister of Industry
The Senate has
still not completed discussion of Mr Gonese’s motion asking
for his Private Member’s Bill to be restored to the Senate
Order Paper after it lapsed at the end of the previous Parliamentary
Session in September 2011. This item will therefore be carried forward
for continuation of the debate when the Senate resumes in May. The
Senate is waiting for a contribution to the debate from the Minister
of Justice and Legal Affairs.
on Private Members Bills
procedure for Private Members’ Bills
- These are Bills that are taken to Parliament by Ministers to give
effect to Government policy. They are originated in the responsible
Ministry, but must also be approved by Cabinet and drafted in proper
legal form by the Attorney-General’s Office before being sent
to Parliament. Parliament then sends them to the Government Printer
for printing and gazetting. The gazetted Bill is then introduced
by the responsible Minister in Parliament - either in the House
of Assembly or in the Senate.
A Private Member’s
Bill - A Bill introduced by a backbencher - has to follow a different
preliminary procedure. The backbencher wishing to introduce it must
first get it privately drafted. He or she must then propose a motion
in the House or the Senate seeking leave to introduce the Bill.
If he or she is able to persuade a majority of fellow members that
the Bill is worth considering further, leave will be granted by
the passing of a resolution, and the Bill will be sent by Parliament
to the Government Printer for printing and gazetting. Thereafter
it will be introduced in the House of Assembly or the Senate by
the private member responsible for it, and from then will follow
the same course as a Government Bill - First Reading, referral to
the Parliamentary Legal Committee, etc.
of GPA’s effect on Private Members’ Bills
Watch 16/2012 of 19th March 2012 discussed a recent ZANU-PF
contention 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 Private Members’ Bills. The contention was described
as “questionable”. That unduly polite description did
not accurately convey the Veritas’ view of the contention,
which is in our view INCORRECT. The quoted provisions of Article
20 do NOT justify the conclusion that the GPA takes away the constitutional
right of a private member to introduced a Private Member’s
Bill. They do no more than emphasise that any Inclusive Government
Bill must be approved by Cabinet.
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