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sends HRC and Older Persons Bills to Senate, amended Electoral Bill
to PLC – Bill Watch 32/2012
July 15, 2012
Houses of Parliament will Sit AgainThis Week
Minister’s Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review on Wednesday 18th
Parliamentary By-Elections Ordered by Supreme Court
On 12th July
the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision ordering Presidential
proclamations to be gazetted before the end of August for the holding
of by-elections in three Matabeleland House of Assembly constituencies.
These constituencies, formerly held by the smaller MDC party, fell
vacant in 2010 when their MPs were expelled from their party and
as a result forfeited their seats. In terms of the Electoral
Act, the proclamations must call for nominations of candidates
and fix dates for nomination courts to sit and for voting. The Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission must then conduct the by-elections following
the proclamation dates. The Electoral Act allows a minimum of 14
days and a maximum of 21 days between the date a proclamation is
gazetted and the sitting of the nomination court; and a minimum
of 28 days and a maximum of 50 days for campaigning between nomination
day and polling day or last polling day. So, if the President gazettes
a proclamation on 31st August, polling could be as late as 10th
November i.e. 71 days after the gazetting of the proclamation. Conversely,
if he gazettes a proclamation, this week, on 18th July, and uses
the minimum periods, polling could be as soon as the 1st September.
[Note: if the
current Electoral Amendment
Bill – see below – becomes law before the proclamation
is gazetted, as is now feasible, the parameters for by-election
dates would be different, because the Bill requires longer campaign
periods, of not less than 42 and not more than 63 days. This would
permit polling to be set for as late as 22nd November.]
for Other Overdue By-Elections
While the Supreme
Court’s order applies only to these three vacancies, the decision
creates a precedent for other similar cases – meaning that
the President would have no legitimate grounds for resisting applications
to the High Court for the proclamation of by-elections in such cases.
In these circumstances, an appropriate response to the decision
would be a Government announcement that it will apply the decision
across the board to fill the other 25 constituency seats that are
vacant in the House of Assembly [16 seats] and the Senate [9 seats].
Like the three vacancies directly covered by the Supreme Court’s
decision, all are well overdue for by-elections which, according
to the Constitution
and Electoral Act, should have been set in motion by the President
within 14 days of Parliament
notifying him of each vacancy. [Some of the vacancies date from
the beginning of the present Parliament in 2008 – one of the
ZANU-PF MPs elected in March 2008 died before the opening of Parliament
several months later.] The Supreme Court’s decision also creates
a precedent for summoning meetings of provincial assemblies of chiefs
in Manicaland and Matabeleland to fill the two chief’s seats
from those provinces that are vacant in the Senate.
House of Assembly Last Week
in House and Transmitted to Senate
Rights Commission Bill – this Bill was amended during
its Committee Stage on 10th July and sent back to the Parliamentary
Legal Committee [PLC] for its report on the constitutionality of
the amended Bill. The PLC returned a non-adverse report Bill on
12th July, as expected, and the Bill was immediately had its Third
Reading [a formality] in the House and was transmitted to the Senate
for consideration on Tuesday 17th July.
Persons Bill – this Bill, which has been awaiting its
Second Reading stage since the PLC’s non-adverse report was
announced some time ago, went through all its stages on 12th July,
without amendment and with little debate. It, too, was transmitted
to the Senate for consideration on 17th July.
Bill Amended – now awaiting PLC report
given its Second Reading on 10th July, the Electoral Amendment Bill
went through its Committee Stage on 12th July. The amendments tabled
by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs – see Bill
Watch 31/2012 of 11th July – were approved and the Bill
was sent back to the PLC for its report on the constitutionality
of the amended Bill. If, as expected, the PLC returns a non-adverse
report on 17th July, the Bill will have its Third Reading in the
House and then be transmitted to the Senate.
The House approved
a motion proposed by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick
Chinamasa for the ratification of the Swakopmund Protocol on the
Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore
within the framework of the African Regional Intellectual Property
Organisation [ARIPO]. The Protocol is designed to protect traditional
knowledge [such as expertise in traditional medicines] and traditional
cultural expression of folklore in developing countries, particularly
within ARIPO Member States, from the current rampant illicit exploitation
of that knowledge and expression without any benefit accruing to
the holders. Harare is the seat of ARIPO headquarters.
Ministerial Statements were made in the House, on the:
- 2012 Population
Census – by the Minister of Finance. The census will be
conducted from 17th to 27th August.
Situation – by the Minister of Energy and Power Development.
The Minister went into great detail on measures being taken to
ease power outages in the country.
and management in Harare/Chitungwiza – the chairman of the
Portfolio Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism
proposed that the House take note of the committee’s report
on waste disposal and management, which concludes that determined
effort is required from the local authorities and the Environmental
Management Authority to arrest problems in these areas before they
get out of hand.
notice raised issues including difficulties being experienced by
would-be investors notwithstanding the introduction of the One Stop
Shop Investment Centre; distribution of funds from the Youth Development
Fund by commercial banks; NSSA investment decisions; the provincial
spread of agricultural training colleges; deterioration of the National
Sports Stadium; scrapping of hospital user fees for expectant mothers.
The Deputy Minister
of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, responding to
a question about a district administrator compelling kraalheads
to attend a ZANU-PF meeting, confirmed that it is wrong for district
administrators to dabble in politics. Other questions on the Order
Paper were not dealt with for lack of Ministerial attendance.
Senate Last Week
[see Bill Watch 30/2012],
there was no further debate on Mr Gonese’s motion to restore
his POSA Amendment Bill to the Order Paper.
Protocol Approved by Senate
On 10th July
the Senate passed a resolution approving the Palermo
Protocol [the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and
Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children] as
proposed by Co-Minister of Home Affairs Theresa Makone. Like their
colleagues in the House of Assembly last month, Senators spoke in
support of the motion. Minister Makone assured Senators that she
would be back in Parliament next Session with a Bill to domesticate
the Protocol, i.e., give it legal effect in Zimbabwe. Now that both
Houses of Parliament have approved the Protocol, the Government
can proceed to deposit Zimbabwe’s instrument of accession
with the UN Secretary-General. The Protocol will finally become
fully binding on Zimbabwe 30 days thereafter. [See Bill
Watch 27/2012 of 18th June for notes on the protocol.]
- Public Service
ghost workers There was further debate on this motion.
- PLC Adverse
Reports on SIs The chairman of the Parliamentary Legal Committee,
Hon Mushonga, presented another batch of adverse reports on statutory
instruments. Again, all the reports criticise penalty provisions
in local authority by-laws on the basis that the provisions concerned
are inconsistent with the procedure for small admission of guilt
fines laid down by the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act, and therefore unconstitutional.
There are now seventeen adverse reports on SIs awaiting further
debate by the Senate, to end with decisions whether or not to
adopt the adverse reports. [For the consequences of Senate adoption
of an adverse report on a SI, see Bill
Watch 24/2012 of 5th June.]
Time Questions Without Notice were marred by poor attendance by
Ministers, although Hon Zvidzai, Deputy Minister of Local Government,
Rural and Urban Development dealt valiantly with a variety of questions
on local government issues, including several complaints about unqualified
“special interest councillors” being forced on local
authorities by Ministerial appointment. Questions with Notice were
not dealt with at all.
up in the House of Assembly This Week
Amendment Bill – as soon as the PLC returns a non-adverse
report on the Bill, it will receive its Third Reading and be transmitted
to the Senate to be passed by that House.
Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill – this
Bill is at the top of the Order Paper, awaiting its Second Reading.
But as it has been there practically all the Session waiting for
the Minister of Industry and Commerce to deliver his Second Reading
speech, it may not be dealt with.
Fiscal Policy Review
is due to present this on Wednesday 12th July – and is expected
to follow it up with Amended Estimates of Expenditure for 2012 and
an Appropriation (2012) Amendment Bill to give effect to them.
up in the Senate This Week
The Senate is
likely to have a busy week dealing with Bills transmitted from the
House of Assembly. On 17th July it will receive the two Bills the
House passed on Thursday:
- Human Rights
- Older Persons
Later in the
week it will be receiving from the House of Assembly the:
(2012) Amendment Bill, if as anticipated the Minister of Finance’s
Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review necessitates a downward revision
of Estimates of Expenditure for the year
- any other
Bill passed by the House next week, e.g., the National Incomes
and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill it the House of Assembly
The Senate is
still faced with continuing debate on the PLC’s seventeen
adverse reports on SIs [see above] and on several other motions.
If the Senate
is still sitting on Thursday afternoon, proceedings will commence
with questions, for which two hours are set aside.
Bill being Printed by Government Printer
received the Securities Amendment Bill from the Minister of Finance
and sent it to the Government Printer for printing. The Bill may
be gazetted during the coming week, but cannot be presented until
the next Session of Parliament. The official text of the Bill will
become publicly available when it is gazetted. The Bill has been
under preparation for some time, and was one of the Bills mentioned
by the President when he opened the present Parliamentary Session.
It is designed to strengthen the regulatory framework for the financial
sector, including the largely self-regulated Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
Gazette of 13th July
No Bills, Acts
nor statutory instruments were gazetted.
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