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Update on Parliamentary business - Bill Watch 9/2013
March 10, 2013

Both Houses of Parliament have adjourned until Tuesday 7th May

Update on Parliamentary Business

Filling of Vacancies in ZEC and ZHRC Chairs

Parliament’s Role

It was announced on 18th and 19th February that Justice Rita Makarau and Mr Jacob Mudenda had been nominated as the new chairpersons of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission respectively. The selection was by agreement among the so-called “principals” President Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara [but MDC’ s President Welshman Ncube was not consulted although under the GPA the three party leaders should agree.]

Under the Constitution the President cannot legally finalise either appointment until both the Judicial Service Commission [JSC] and the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders [CSRO] have been consulted.

The JSC met within days of the announcement. But the CSRO has not yet met because it has not been possible to arrange a quorate meeting as so many of its members are going about the country promoting the Yes vote for the Referendum. CSRO chairperson, Speaker of the House of Assembly Lovemore Moyo has therefore circulated the names of the two nominees to all CSRO members asking for their views in the hope of being able to give a response to the President without a full meeting.

MDC leader Welshman Ncube is challenging both proposed appointments and insisting on a proper CSRO meeting. The Speaker, however said he was still waiting for responses to from members and that an early CSRO meeting might be difficult to arrange. This makes it unlikely that Justice Makarau will be able to assume office at ZEC before the Referendum on 16th March. [Note: When appointments have to be made “after consultation with” the CSRO, this means the President has to consult, but is not bound by the advice or opinion given by the body consulted although he must carefully consider the advice or opinion before going ahead.]

POSA Amendment Bill on Hold

Mr Gonese has confirmed that he is considering tabling a motion in the House of Assembly asking that the Bill, as passed by the House in December 2010, be sent to the President for assent, despite the Senate’s rejection of his motion to revive the Bill and consequential failure to pass the Bill. [Note: This procedure is permitted by the Constitution, Schedule 4, paragraph 3, which sets out what can be done by the House when the Senate either rejects a Bill passed by the House or has not passed it within 90 days of its introduction into the Senate. If Mr Gonese goes ahead this would be the first use of this special procedure.] Nothing further can be done until Parliament sits again, when there are likely to be other issues clamouring for the House of Assembly’s attention.

Zimbabwe Youth Council (General) Regulations [SI 4/2013]: Update

Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] adverse report - The PLC’s adverse report on these regulations was not presented to the Senate before it adjourned until 7th May. So further Parliamentary developments will have to wait until then. In the meantime interested parties are free to go to court to challenge the validity of the regulations if so advised by their lawyers. [The adverse report is not available until tabled in the Senate.]

Parliament Adjourned until Tuesday 7th May

After the sittings covered in Bill Watch 8/2013, both Houses sat only once – on Tuesday 26th February – before adjourning until 7th May. The reasons given for the adjournments included:

  • COPAC’s call for MPs and Senators to join the publicity campaign to make the COPAC draft known to the people before the Referendum and also to urge their constituents to vote YES
  • an apparent lack of urgent Government business to place before Parliament. The Speaker has said that he received no response from the Prime Minister when he wrote to him, in his capacity as Leader of Government Business in Parliament, to enquire whether the Government had any business requiring Parliament’s urgent attention.

Parliamentarians’ Referendum duties will be completed by the 16th March, unless the polling date is extended at the last moment.

[Note: there are Bills outstanding and motions and questions carried forward from the last session of Parliament – and there should be legislative reforms before the election. Is too much business being left for Parliament to tackle later, in addition to adopting the new Constitution before the elections?]

In timing the long adjournment, Parliamentary authorities have obviously calculated that with Referendum result probably taking the full 5 days allowed for their announcement by ZEC; and taking a YES vote for granted; and with Easter falling on the weekend the 29th March to 1st April and Independence Day on the 18th April; and with the Constitution Bill having to be gazetted for 30 days before it can be introduced in Parliament, it will probably not be necessary for Parliament to sit to consider the new Constitution until 7th May.

Note: the Houses can be recalled by Speaker or Senate President at the request of President Mugabe, whatever the result of the Referendum. A possible reason for recall would be a Government decision to press on with the three Ministry of Finance bills awaiting Second Reading [see below].

In Parliament on 26th February

House of Assembly

The House sat from 2.15 pm to 6.34 pm.

Bills [all available from]

There was no progress on the three Ministry of Finance Bills awaiting the Second Reading stage, all of which have therefore been carried forward to the next sitting on 7th May:

International agreement approved

The House approved the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism at the request of Home Affairs Co-Minister Mohadi. His brief explanation of the Convention and the need for Zimbabwe to be a party to it was accepted without opposition or debate [Full text of Convention available from].


Vote of thanks to the President for his speech opening the Session

There were several substantial contributions to this debate. Subjects raised included political violence past and present; the state of the country’s roads; police roadblocks [an MP suggested renaming the police force the Zimbabwe Roadblock Police]; and hunger and drought relief programmes.

Portfolio Committee report on Shabanie Mashava Mines [SMM] The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, Hon Chindori-Chininga wound up the revived debate on the Committee’s report. He expressed the Committee’s disappointment that the two Ministers criticised in the report [Justice and Legal Affairs, and Mines and Mining Development] had not responded to the report’s findings and recommendations, although obliged to do so by House Standing Order 168. This criticism was backed up by a suggestion that the Standing Order be tightened up to provide for punishment of offending Ministers. Mr Chindori-Chininga also criticised backbenchers for failing to contribute to the debate on the report.

Condolence motion following death of Deputy Minister Seiso Moyo There were also several contributions to the debate on this motion, which will continue when the House returns.

Question Time

Questions were not taken because the House did not sit on the appointed day, Wednesday 27th February.


The Senate sat for only 24 minutes before adjourning.

Bills - There were no Bills for consideration.


There were brief contributions to the debates on the vote of thanks to the President for his speech opening the current Session, and to the Vice-President Landa John Nkomo condolence motion.

Question Time did not take place because the Senate did not sit on the appointed day, Thursday 28th February.

Comment: considering the short sitting hours and the small amount of work done by the Senate during this Parliament, it could be questioned why the new Constitution is providing for a Senate.

Government Gazettes: 1st to 8th March

Statutory Instruments [NOT available from Veritas unless stated to be available]

Referendum and Election issues

SI 26/2013 [gazetted 1st March] contains the new Referendum Regulations, and replaces the regulations of 2000.

SI 26A/2013 [gazetted 6th March] contains regulations setting accreditation fees payable by observers at the Referendum and at elections [gazetted 6th March]. [Both available from]

New mining fees SI 29/2013 [gazetted 8th March] repeals the controversial mining fees that were fixed by SI 11/2012 and drew an adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC] and protests from the mining sector and replaces it with a new schedule of fees. [It is extraordinary that it has taken the Government a year to react to the PLC’s report.]

Legal practitioners fees for conveyancing

SI 24/2013 [gazetted 1st March] sets new Law Society (Conveyancing Fees) By-laws.

Customs suspension and rebate

SI 27/2013 [gazetted 8th March] grants suspensions of duty on goods for listed mining locations for two or three years.

SI 30/2013 [gazetted 8th March] amends the regulations granting customs duty rebates for electrical manufacturers.

Collective bargaining agreement SI 28/2013 [gazetted 8th March] sets out an agreement, signed on 30th August 2012, settling rates of pay for the mining industry for 2011 and 2012

Local authority by-laws

SI 25/2013 [gazetted 1st March] sets out the Mangwe Rural District Council sand extraction by-laws.

General Notices

ZIMPLATS mining rights – proposed compulsory acquisition by State

In GN 123/2013 [gazetted 1st March] the President gives preliminary notice of the State’s intention to expropriate, under section 398 of the Mines and Minerals Act, “part of the land held by Zimplats Holdings Ltd under Special Mining Lease Number 1 for the utilisation of such mining location for the benefit of the public”. The area concerned is described by a long list of map grid references and by reference to a map of the area available for inspection at the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. As the Mines and Minerals Act applies the Land Acquisition Act procedure to this sort of expropriation, persons wishing to object to the acquisition are given 30 days from 1st March to lodge objections with the Minister of Mines and Mining Development; and claims for compensation in terms of section 22 of the Land Acquisition Act are invited. If the acquisition is contested, the State will have to apply to the Administrative Court for confirmation of the acquisition; and the court may refuse to confirm the acquisition unless satisfied that the acquisition is “reasonable necessary” for the stated purpose. Disputes over compensation must likewise be decided by the Administrative Court.

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