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Fiscal Policy Review postponed; progress on HRC and Electoral Bills
- Bill Watch 31/2012
July 11, 2012
Fiscal Policy Review Postponed to Next Week
Tendai Biti has postponed this to Wednesday 18th July.
Made on Major Reform Bills in House of Assembly
Rights Commission Bill with amendments is now through its Committee
Amendment Bill has had its Second Reading – amendments
on Order Paper for Thursday
the House of Assembly
approved the suspension of Standing Orders 22, 106 and 109. This
meant that different stages of a Bill could be taken on the same
day; the House could sit after 7 pm, and, if necessary, on Friday
after 1 pm, instead of automatically adjourning at those times;
and also that the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] did not have
its usual 26 days within which to report on amendments made. This
was to permit the fast-tracking through the House of these two urgent
Right Commission Bill Now Through Committee Stage
approved by House
the Minister moved his previously tabled amendments during the Committee
Stage on Tuesday afternoon. [Bill and Minister’s Amendments
available from firstname.lastname@example.org]
All the amendments were approved. Also approved was an amendment
proposed by Mr Gonese and accepted by the Minister, to delete the
words “and has domesticated as part of its laws” from
the definition of “human rights violation”. This means
the Human Rights Commission will be able consider alleged violations
of all international human rights agreements to which Zimbabwe is
a party, even agreements which have not been specifically domesticated
into Zimbabwean law. But the Minister would not accept an amendment
to allow the Commission to investigate violations occurring before
13th February 2009, although MDC MPs contested this date hotly as
they wanted the
violence surrounding the 2008 elections to be investigated.
The Minister was adamant that the GPA
negotiators had compromised on the date the inclusive
government was sworn in, and that there was no room for change.
This was accepted by the House.
Bill referred to Parliamentary Legal Committee
by the Constitution, the Bill as amended during the Committee Stage
has been referred back to the PLC for a report on the constitutionality
of the amendments. A non-adverse report is assured as the amendments
were agreed between the PLC and the Minister.
The Bill is
expected to pass its Third Reading and be transmitted to the Senate
on Thursday 12th July.
Amendment Bill Through Second Reading
Parliamentary Legal Committee’s Adverse Report
House of Assembly proceedings on the Electoral Amendment Bill started
with the PLC’s withdrawal of its adverse report after the
Minister agreed to amend the Bill. This Second Reading stage then
went ahead immediately.
Second Reading speech
began by giving the background to the Bill – that it was a
result of negotiation between the three parties to the GPA. Work
on it had begun in July 2009, when as Minister of Justice and Legal
Affairs he submitted a Memorandum of Principles on proposed amendments
to the Electoral Act
for approval by Cabinet. Cabinet referred the proposed amendments
to a Cabinet Committee made up of the six GPA negotiators. The negotiators
took nearly two years to reach agreement, resulting in the Bill
now before the House.
Committee’s Report on the Bill
of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs, Constitutional
and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Douglas Mwonzora, presented the committee’s
report on the Bill, explaining that it had been prepared before
it was known what amendments the Minister would be proposing.
to debate by MPs
In the course
of a lengthy debate lasting until 6.49 pm there was some heated
criticism of the Bill, although MDC MPS had been mollified by Minister’s
agreement to amend it to provide that polling-station based voting
will not apply in the forthcoming elections.
response to the debate
referred to the “unique situation” of the inclusive
government and returned to his point that the Bill is the collective
effort of the political parties represented in Cabinet, arrived
at painstakingly after many compromises. He said it would “not
be in anyone’s interest to scuttle that understanding”.
He assured MPs, however, that their views would be taken into account
for future improvement of the electoral laws.
passes Second Reading
7 pm yesterday the House of Assembly approved the Second Reading
of the Bill without a division.
Stage to be on Thursday
amendments [9 pages of them], including a new clause stating that
polling-station based voting will not be used in the forthcoming
election, are on the Order Paper. [Bill and Amendments available
When the Committee
Stage is complete the amended Bill will have to be submitted to
the PLC again. If the PLC does not give it adverse report, the Bill
will have its Third Reading, a formality, before being transmitted
to the Senate.
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