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Important Bills on parliamentary agenda not dealt with last week - Bill Watch 26/2012
Veritas
June 18, 2012

Both Houses of Parliament will meet again on Tuesday 19th June

In Parliament Last Week

Although scheduled to sit for three days, both Houses conducted business on Tuesday and Wednesday only. There was no discussion of Bills in either House despite important Government Bills being on the agenda – such as the Human Rights Commission Bill and the Electoral Amendment Bill. The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Hon Chinamasa, was out of the country, which may account for the failure to proceed with the Committee Stage of the Human Rights Commission Bill in the House of Assembly. The POSA Amendment Bill has still not been restored in the Senate. Thursday afternoon’s sittings were abandoned immediately after delayed opening prayers because of a ZESA power failure and problems with the back-up generator.

Senate

Motions

African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance - Senator Marava of MDC-T introduced a new motion calling on the Government to expeditiously sign and ratify this Charter [for details see next Bill Watch]

Prisons and prisoners - Debate continued on the Human Rights Thematic Committee’s report on the state of prisons and prisoners [report available from veritas@mango.zw].

House of Assembly

Motions

On President’s opening speech Hon Zhuwao, the proposer of this motion, wound up the debate, and the motion of thanks to the President was adopted by the House. MPs had used only 8 hours of the 35 allowed for this debate by Standing Orders

On Portfolio Committee Report on the Public Media - Debate on this motion continued [report available from veritas@mango.zw].

On Portfolio Committee Report on ZUPCO - Hon Karenyi, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Rural and Urban Development presented the committee’s report on the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company [ZUPCO] [report available from veritas@mango.zw].

Question Time – Wednesday 6th June

The Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs told MPs that he had the previous week addressed Cabinet about the large backlog of outstanding questions, identifying the Ministers concerned. Perhaps as a result, there was a better than usual attendance by Ministers on 6th June, and Standing Orders were waived in order to devote the whole of the 3½ hour sitting to members’ questions [Standing Orders allow 1 hour on Wednesday for Questions without Notice, and the following hour for Written Questions with Notice, which appear on the Order Paper]. Sports and Education Minister Coltart, Home Affairs Co-Minister Makone, Water Resources Minister Nkomo and Deputy Mines Minister Chimanikire were kept particularly busy. Subjects raised included:

Use of schools for political meetings

The Minister of Education confirmed that Ministry regulations prohibit the use of school premises to further political objectives.

Army and Police defiance of Treasury freeze on recruitment

The Minister of Finance that in spite of a Treasury freeze on the making of new appointments, the Army had taken on and was paying 4 500 recruits, and the Police 1 500, resulting in unbudgeted and unlawful payments to the new personnel.

2012 Budget to be revised downwards

The Minister of Finance also said that when he makes his Mid-Term Financial Statement on 12th July he will announce a “major revision” downwards of the $4 billion 2012 Budget. This has been necessitated by under-performance of revenue targets, principally the receipt of only $30 million from diamond revenue instead of a projected $240 million.

Apology for police inaction when Parliamentary public hearing disrupted in July 2011 Co-Minister of Home Affairs Theresa Makone apologised for the “gross dereliction of duty” by police on duty at Parliament on the day when an unruly mob invaded Parliament, disrupting a public committee hearing into the Human Rights Commission Bill and assaulting legislators and journalists.

Spot fines at police roadblocks

Co-Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi made heavy weather of replying to a question about Government policy on spot fines. Eventually he was asked to come back to the House at a later sitting with a properly prepared reply.

Chiadzwa diamonds – who is mining, dividends to Government, “leakages”

Deputy Mines Minister Chimanikire said there are five companies mining in Chiadzwa, not nine as suggested by the questioner, all of them either 100% Government-owned or joint ventures between Government and private investors. The CIO, the Prisons Service and the Police are not, he said, involved in the companies. Dividends to Government from the companies for January-March came to just under $30 million. On “leakages” the Deputy Minister claimed that smuggling to Mozambique was negligible, but conceded that it could stem from small-scale operations at Chiadzwa, outside the areas designated for the operations of the five companies.

Coming up in the House of Assembly this Week

Bills

As there was no progress last week on any Bills, the agenda for Bills remains as outlined in Bill Watch 25/2012 of 12th June.

Motions

Approval of Palermo Protocol [see next Bill Watch for details of this Protocol]

Elections and African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance

This motion refers to the emergence of manifestations of violence, calls for the Government to put mechanisms in place to ensure a peaceful pre- and post-election transition and urges SADC and the AU to ensure member States “subscribe to the ethos” of the African Charter on African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance [see next Bill Watch for details on this Charter].

Need for Government-fixed cotton price - This motion may have been largely pre-empted by Government action [see under Government Gazette below].

Alleged Reserve Bank corruption

This motion, tabled by Hon Zhanda of ZANU-PF, seconded by Hon Madzimure of MDC-T, asks the House to express concern at alleged RBZ “corruption, shady deals, acts of economic sabotage and poor corporate governance” and the Anti-Corruption Commission’s apparent involvement in the matter” and for the appointment of an ad hoc Parliamentary committee to investigate.

Question Time – Wednesday

Prime Minister’s Question Time

The Prime Minister will be answering questions on Government policy put to him by MPs from the floor of the House. Standing Orders have been waived to permit this deviation from the rule that PMQs are on the last Wednesday of each month.

Questions for Ministers

There are also written questions on the Order Paper awaiting responses from Ministers, all carried forward. Following last week’s marathon Question Time the backlog of unanswered questions has shrunk to 15.

Coming up in the Senate This Week

PLC adverse reports on statutory instruments

The Parliamentary Legal Committee chairperson will present adverse reports on six SIs gazetted during March. [See Bill Watch 24/2012 of 6th June for a list of the SIs. The adverse reports are not yet available.]

Motions

  • Approval of Palermo Protocol
  • Approval of African Charter of Democracy, Elections and Governance
  • On the Thematic Committee reports on education in resettled areas
  • On the Thematic Committee report on the ARV therapy roll-out programme
  • On assistance to farmers in drought-stricken agricultural region 5
  • For the restoration of the POSA Amendment Bill to the Order Paper This long-stalled motion is by Hon Gonese

Government Gazette 15th June

Statutory Instruments [NOT available from Veritas unless otherwise stated]

Code of Ethics for the Judiciary – SI 107/2012 gazettes the new Code of Ethics for judicial officers as regulations made by the Judicial Service Commission in terms of the Judicial Service Act. The code is now legally binding. [For a detailed discussion, see Court Watch 7/2012 of 11th April.] [Code available from veritas@mango.zw]

Tariffs for Deputy Sheriffs and Messengers of Court – SIs 109 and 110/2012.

Cotton declared a controlled product – In SI 106A/2012, published in a Gazette Extraordinary dated 8th June, the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development declared seed cotton and seed cotton products to be controlled products under the Grain Marketing Act during the 2011/2012 growing season. This means the cotton price will be as fixed by the Minister. The SI says that a “contract buyer” must pay that price even if a lower price was contracted for – or refer the grower to the Grain Marketing Board and claim its grower’s input costs from the GMB.

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